Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Tiny fast brown bugs


Tiny brown bugs
Tiny brown bugs  
Tiny brown bug
Tiny brown bug  
QUESTION: Can you please help me identify these bugs? They have been a problem outside of my house for about a month but now I am seeing them indoors.  They first were on my front deck only but now they are on the deck, sidewalk and bathroom window sills. They don't seem to be doing any damage but they seem to be every where! I have 2 young children and don't know what to do about the bugs. I have my house sprayed monthly during the summer for spiders, bees, wasps etc. but the exterminator said he didn't see any when he was here (i dont think he looked hard, if yiu just hlance down you dont see them because they are so small) and I didn't notice any decrease in activity after the outside of the house was sprayed.


Forgive me, but you are a classic example of the kind of mentality I try to discourage.  You spray first (have someone else do it, actually, which costs even more), and ask questions later.

Unless you have a problem with structural pests (termites, carpenter ants), a large indoor cockroach population, bed bugs, or wasps nesting between walls, there is no need to be using any chemicals, let alone preemptively!

The creatures in your image are springtails, class Collembola, recently reclassified as "non-insect hexapods," meaning they are more primitive than insects.  Not all springtails....spring....and they are at most a nuisance.

The only way to get rid of springtails is to thoroughly dry the room or area where you find them.  Consider a dehumidifier.  You can also sprinkle a fine layer of diatomaceous earth where you see them, but be careful if you have curious toddlers or pets.  DE is essentially pulverized glass.  DE etches the cuticle of insects and related creatures, causing them to lose water and die.

Chemicals are useless against springtails, which feed mostly on decaying organic matter, and probably mold and fungal spores.  They must have moisture to survive, so when you find them indoors it is usually on a window sill that accumulates condensation, or in the potting soil of a houseplant, or around the sink or bathtub.

I'd let them be since they are not a health concern, and when the weather dries out they will likely disappear on their own.

FYI, wasps and spiders are helpful predators of pests that could be far worse, like roaches, termites, bed bugs....Bees pollinate our crops, gardens, and native wildflowers.  Give the exterminator a rest, will you?  Please?


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

QUESTION: Thank you for the info!
We actually had the house sprayed because we were having a big problem with large spiders and small ants in the house. Then these other bugs appeared (probably because we got rid of the spiders, i get it now!) I understand spiders are beneficial and would be open to doing something else to keep them out of the house. Do you have any suggestions? They were about 2 inches and frankly scaring my daughter so I felt I needed to do something.


Thank you for your positive response to my previous "rant."

I wrote this article on how to avoid spider bites and exclude spiders from your home:


and my colleague wrote this article on how to safely remove spiders to the outside:


Those two references should give you a place to start in keeping *all* creepy-crawlers out of your way.

Thanks again, take care.


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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