Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery infestation


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These small bugs (1-3mm) are crawling around a rock fireplace.  It seems hundreds have died on the mantle.  These were photographed on the mortar or rock.  Don't seem to be anywhere else in the house.  Probably there for a few months but we though the debris on the mantle was flaked off mortar or moss/lichen.   House built in 1968.  Denver CO.  The rock runs from the roof down through attic and into our livingroom.  Some seem to have more red colored head and some more grey.

Dear Mike - I cannot see enough detail in your images to be confident of an identification. They bear a superficial resemblance to booklice (Psocodea: Liposcelidae) - see http://tinyurl.com/pzvplt3 for an example, but the legs on your specimens seem unusually long for those insects. Rather than me guessing, I suggest that you use a moistened toothpick, Q-Tip, or similar object to place some of these in a small container of rubbing alcohol and take them to your county office of Colorado State University's Cooperative Extension Service - see http://tinyurl.com/bzw6q5
for contact information. Someone there should be able either to assist in identification and provide any needed control recommendations, or could forward the specimens to the appropriate university office. In any case, your critters likely will fall into the category of nuisance pests in that although they are unlikely to cause any real damage, you really don't wish to share your living quarters with them.

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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