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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/how to id, then get rid of household bug


Hi Erik,

I would love your help in identifying the type of bugs that keep crawling all over my brand new couch in the apt I moved into last month.  I live in Los Angeles, 1 block from the beach and the windows behind the new couch don't close properly, so there is a chance they are easily getting in from the outside.  I also had a brand new couch delivered from pottery barn and on the couch, each day, i see one or two of them crawling along.  if they are out on the couch in broad daylight, who knows how many are lurking elsewhere.  gross.  I tried to get a good photo (attached)

they come out when it's warmer and when it's been a bit cooler, so i can't tell if they are termites or something different.  I would like to give as much information as possible to my landlord before i ask him to take care of them.  Your suggestions for what they are and how to exterminate them would be GREATLY appreciated.

thank you SO much!


Yes, those would be a pair of male and female ("king" and "queen") termites, looking to set up house somewhere.

I can't tell what *species* these are.  You have several in southern California, so the best idea is to take intact specimens to an entomologist at the LA County Museum of Natural History, a local university (UC Riverside has an entomology department), or even the public health department (vector control division will have at least one staff entomologist). He or she can then put the specimens under a microscope and render a verdict.  Do NOT rely on a pest control company to make a proper identification.

You may or may not have an active colony in your home, so don't panic yet.  Get the ID first, and explain to the entomologist the circumstances in which you found them.  They could be from a swarm blocks away that flew or were blown your way.

Good luck!


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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