Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Unknown bug


Was told to check with you as Sue did not know what this is.  I have more pics if you want them.

QUESTION: I have some small bugs that I am finding crawling around my bathroom floor.  They seem to prefer the dark as they hide under things.  They can jump 1-2 inches along the ground and are themselves just over 1 mm.  Apparently they are covered with tiny hairs.  I took some microscope images and accidentally squashed it a little bit...oh and yes they are very easy to squash and then leave behind a gray mush when squashed.  If these images aren't enough I can try and drown another one tonight(they DO NOT sit still) and get more images tomorrow.  Also they flee to the baseboards when I start squashing them with my fingertip.

ANSWER: Hard to tell from the photos, but they look like fleas.  Do you have a dog or cat?  You can catch a few in a ziplock bag and take them to a licensed pest control operator.  You can also spritz them with hairspray or deodorant to catch them, unsquished.

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unsquashed bug
unsquashed bug  

bug forked tail
bug forked tail  
QUESTION: I got some better pics.  Yes I have a dog but she is on comfortis.  Also these bugs are gray not brown and lack a strong protective exoskelton as they are easy to squish.  In these pics there you can see a forked tail but the bug is hairy.  It almost looks like a cross between a earwig and a flea.


I could have told you what they are even without the pictures, but very nice images considering how small they are....

These are "springtails," now classified as "non-insect hexapods" in the class Collembola.  They are definitely *not* pests, but can be a nuisance at times.

Springtails are highly moisture-dependent, so to get rid of them you need to dry the room where you see them thoroughly. Consider a dehumidifier.

You can also sprinkle a fine layer of diatomaceous earth in the places you see them congregating.  The DE scratches the cuticle of the creature and it dehydrates to death.  Be careful if you have pets or inquisitive children, though:  DE is essentially pulverized glass.

Springtails probably graze on mold spores and fungi that grow in moist situations.  They do not bite, do not eat clothing, or infest food we eat.

I had them in my shower when I lived in Arizona, and just let them be.

Lastly, please do not trust a pest control company or technician to make an accurate identification.  They are schooled mostly in how to apply pesticides to comply with federal and state regulations.  They often know little about the insects and other creatures they are spraying.


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 AllExperts.com, 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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