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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Very tiny circular bug


QUESTION: So I don't have a picture, but I have spotted a tiny circular bug crawling on my iPod screen in my bedroom. I let my dog and cat sleep with me but I am positive they had nothing to do with it as I have seen them before I had pets. They are very tiny, so tiny I have smushed one but it was still moving. They are maybe a mm in size. I have looked everywhere online but couldn't find an exact identification or picture. I am pretty sure it isn't bed bugs as I have not been itching. I rarely see them and have only spotted two in the span of a month. I have a headboard that holds books but I am not sure if it is book louse. They are very tiny and have a clearish beige colour to them. I think they had 6 legs and a head attached to the body making their shape circular. Any help would be greatly appreciated in finding what these are. I don't think they bite, they are slow and don't jump.

ANSWER: Chris:

I'm afraid I am only as good as the information people provide for me, and there is not enough here for me to reach any conclusion.

My best guesses would be booklice or springtails (Collembola).  Not all springtails jump, and there are globular springtails....Still, I'd have to see at least a clear image, and preferably a specimen, to make an accurate determination.

I'd take specimens to a local entomologist at a museum, university, state department of agriculture, or even the public health department (vector control division would have at least one staff entomologist).  He or she could then stick the insect under a microscope and tell you conclusively what it is.

Please do *not* rely on a pest control technician (exterminator) to make an accurate identification, either.  They are schooled in pesticide application regulations, not in entomology.

Wish I had better news!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I keep looking at pictures of book louse but they always seem more long in shape. The critter is definitely circular, as the head melds into the body, keeping the shape. I thought they were a mm in size but I was wrong. These critters are probably smaller than a grain of salt. I keep trying to take pictures but the pictures always comes out blurry. Thank you though for answering. I will try to catch a specimen but have no clue how... Should I use tape? Or try to put them in a container? If I put them in a container I feel like the entomologist wouldn't be able to find it.


Tape might work.  I understand what you mean given how tiny they are....

Which makes me consider something I had not considered earlier:  You may be describing mites of some kind.  Do you have pet birds or rodents, or had birds nesting against your home, or had a rodent problem recently?  Some mites that normally infest birds or rodents will start wandering aimlessly in the absence of their normal host, and start finding their way into human habitations.  Normally, this only makes them a nuisance, but some people are allergic to them.

Bird mites might be a thought.  I am definitely *not* a mite expert (acarologist), so I can't offer much more help if it turns out they are mites.

Thank you for keeping me updated, I look forward to learning the outcome myself.  I'm going to get a question like this again in the future, no doubt!


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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.

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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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