Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Tiny tan bug


Tan bug
Tan bug  

I moved into a new apartment in NYC, and have naturally been a bit paranoid of the bed bug issue here. I found a very small bug in my bathroom tub, and after comparing to bed bug photos online, it doesn't have the same shape. Can you tell me what this is and if I need an exterminator? If there is an issue, I'd like to deal with it pronto. The bug is so small that my iPhone wouldn't focus super close up, but will attach what I have. Thank you very much, in advance!

Dear Toni - First off, My apologies for the delay in responding - I somehow overlooked your question, as I do not recall seeing it in my Inbox. At any rate, you do not have to worry about calling in an exterminator, as it is the remains of a very small isopod crustacean (not an insect) known as a sowbug or pillbug. They are harmless scavengers on decomposing organic matter, and sometimes are found indoors where damp conditions persist.

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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