Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery Bug


Mystery Bug
Mystery Bug  

Mystery bug
Mystery bug  
We were cleaning out our daughter's room (she went off the college) and these tiny dark brown bugs are everywhere in her room.  They are in drawers, between the sheets, on the mattress, in clothes, and just crawling around on the floor.  My first thought was bed bugs, but they look more like beetles.  We live in the desert in Arizona.  Any ideas?

Dear Rhonda - These are beetles in the family Tenebrionidae (darkling beetles); the images are not clear enough for me to be certain, but they look like flour beetles in the genus Tribolium. However, these beetles usually are found in areas where grains or grain-derived food products (such as flour, pasta, etc.) are stored (see http://tinyurl.com/29qvhmq). I suggest that you collect some of these in a small container, and take them to your county office of the University of Arizona's Cooperative Extension Service for assistance in identification and any recommended control measures. See http://extension.arizona.edu/ and click on your county for contact information. Extension service offices generally are a good resource when dealing with most home/yard/garden pest problems.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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