Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Grain or Mold Mites?


Thank you for taking my question.

I am from Toronto, Canada. The last couple of days we noticed what looks like dust all over our kitchen counters, cat food and water, and food storage containers. On closer inspection they appear to be moving! The bugs look like is off-white, microscopic mites. They're incredibly small and all over everything.

There was a large pile of mold behind the shelf where the cat food is. This is where most of the infestation was. They're also all over the sink, but I can find a couple of them everywhere that there's food or food related things. If they are grain/mold mites, I am reading that they thrive in warm, humid areas. My kitchen is in my basement, so this would make sense.

I am attaching a picture which I've zoomed in quite a bit. These are the mites on the lid of a Clorax spray can. The can itself does not even have a 4 inch radius, and the spot you see is not even an inch wide, just to give you an idea of just how small these things are.

I am wondering if I am correct in assuming they're grain or mold mites, and what steps do I need to eradicate them? Do I have to throw out all of our food? How do we keep them from coming back? There are lots of conflicting info online, and no exterminator in my city seems to know what I'm talking about. I wonder if I've accidentally brought them home with a cat I recently imported.

Thank you,


Well, I can't tell, but if they *are* mites, then they are not insects and therefore out of the realm of us entomologists.  You need an acarologist (mite specialist) to help you.

You might try Barry OConnor at the University of Michigan:


Do tell him I sent you if you write to him.  We are both on an international listserv for entomology. Oddly, this is the second mite question I have received this summer, to which I have referred to Dr. OConnor.

While mites are arachnids like spiders, they are so diverse and microscopic that few arachnologists are willing to take them on!


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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