You are here:

Entomology (Study of Bugs)/unknown bathtub insect


close up of insect
close up of insect  

penny for scale and location
penny for scale and lo  
Hi, I'm in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Single family, detached home.  No other insect issues.  I found these tiny insects in my bathtub this week.  I've only found them in the upstairs bathroom tub (in the tub bottom and at the grout line).  I would add a third picture to show more of them if I could.  Any ideas what they could be?  They move slowly until I touch them, then they are quite quick!
The bathroom environment has not changed, other than the seasonal adjustments.

I sent the pictures to a pest control company and they said they looked like psocids, but I don't see enough similarities.

Thanks for your help!

Hi, Brian:

Thank you for including the images with your question.  Knowing how small these insects are, I am impressed with the quality of the pictures!

Sorry to hear that the pest control company misidentified them, but that often happens.  Pest Control Technicians are schooled more in the application of insecticides than in how to identify *what* they are spraying....

The creatures are "springtails," class Collembola.  They were formerly considered insects, but now are "non-insect hexapods."  Here's a link with more:

The above is a l-o-o-o-ng page, so be sure to scroll down.

Not all springtails....spring!  Some don't jump at all.  They are not pests, but certainly can be a nuisance.  They likely graze on molds and mildews in the tub, shower, or basin, or in potting soil of houseplants, and other damp situations.  They are not tolerant of drought, and the best way to kill them is to literally dry them to death.  If they become a problem, consider a de-humidifier for the room where you see them.  You can also sprinkle a fine layer of diatomaceous earth where you see them.  Be careful if you have curious kids or pets, though.  DE is essentially pulverized glass.  It etches the cuticle of insects and related arthropods so that they leak water and die.

Hope this helps.  I've had them in my own shower in Tucson, Arizona when I lived there, so they are remarkably durable!


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.