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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Tiny Brown Wood Eating Bugs


Tiny Brown Bug
Tiny Brown Bug  
I just moved into a recently renovated apartment and within the last couple of days I began to notice sawdust (frass?) in my kitchen cabinets and drawers. I did not pay it much attention; however, yesterday I began to notice very small brown bugs in my silverware drawer. After discovering the initial bugs I began to notice them in many place all over the house (Kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bathroom cabinets, and on top of the oven). They do not fly and most of the bugs I have found have been either very inactive or dead upon discovery. I tried to search online but googling "tiny brown wood eating bugs" is not very accurate. I live in the Milwaukee area. Hopefully you can help me identify these bugs! They do not bother me so much but I would prefer them not to be around my utensils/kitchen area. Thanks in advance!


I'm somewhat stumped.  The behavior you describe fits with "deathwatch beetles" in the family Anobiidae, many of which will emerge from milled lumber, even cabinetry, but will not re-infest.  They do leave behind piles of sawdust when they emerge from the pupal stage and chew their way to freedom.

However, the image looks to be some kind of "stored product pest," of which some also belong to the Anobiidae, but also Silvanidae, Dermestidae, and other families of beetles.

You really need to take intact specimens to a local entomologist at a museum, university, state department of agriculture, or even the public health department (vector control should have at least one staff entomologist).  He or she can then put the critters under a microscope and render a valid ID.

I know U of Wisconsin in Madison has a top-flight entomology department, if you can make the trek there.

Wish I could be more helpful, but you might try Googling "stored product pests" to see if you get any matches.


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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.

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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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