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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Request: ID of Type of Acari



Thank you in advance for insights you may provide. Myself and my home have become infested with a type of acari. That was confirmed when I sent bug fecal matter I found on my bed sheet to a diagnostic lab who runs PCR tests; they found dna in my specimen that matches acari. They don't have any specific acari DNA primers to match against though. I had also brought exoskeleton I found on my mattress to a local entomology extension, who said not bed bug, but looked like some kind of spider.

Do you know what kind of mite or tick is infesting me and my home, based on the symptoms below?

My Symptoms:

- Find specks, such as in this photo on my bed linens every few days. They do not stick to fabric, are 1/2 mm diameter, dark brown, and either spherical or tube-shaped.
- While near dogs, they became itchy about 20 minutes later, and they weren't before
- Sores on scalp - new ones daily
- Pustules (look like pus-filled acne) on my face, usually my nostrils, where nostrils meet face, and sometimes around jaw line - new ones every 2 or 3 days
- It's nocturnal, and does not like light. I feel something moving through my hair on scalp 5 to 10 minutes after I lay down to sleep
- When wearing hat in movie theater, feel something moving through hair at 10 PM and later




Thanks for the question. I will do my best to help you. You have provided a lot of helpful details, but photos are always best, so send some if you can.

The evidence of acari found by the diagnostic lab could indicate a number of species. Acari includes ticks and mites, including dust mites. If you don't actually see the bugs in your bed, then they could be mites because mites are very very small. However, if you can see them (or their exoskeletons), then I would guess you have something larger than a mite that is biting you. Could you send a photo of the exoskeleton?

As for the specs you are finding, they could be dirt or plant matter from houseplants. They could also be feces from some insect (first thing that comes to mind is flea dirt), but I am not sure based on your description.

Being itchy near dogs could indicate: fleas, allergies, or skin irritation if your skin is already sensitive.

Sores on your scalp: lice, fleas, or bedbugs...

So... it could be lice, fleas, mites or bedbugs from your description. If you can get some photos of the insects, exoskeletons, and/or bites, that would be very helpful. I could give you a better ID if I had some photos to look at.


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

QUESTION: Hi Jessica,

THANK YOU so so so much for your assistance with this! My life is in ruins by it at present, because I cannot have any semblance of a normal social life (no love life, that's for certain) until I can successfully exterminate these bugs from my home. Not knowing what kind of bug it is makes success dubious. So, again, thank you for your help with this - you are a god send!

The photo above of the bug fecal matter is the only evidence I have, other than acne-like bites that occur on my face and scalp. I sleep inside an EcoKeeper Bed Bug Tent which is meant to keep bugs out. I see the bug fecal matter even after I put the tent and linen through the dryer at over 160 degrees F for an hour and a half, and go directly into the tent after a thorough shower with nothing on and only one decontaminated bed sheet inside the tent. So, we can rule out dirt or plant matter as what I find on my bed sheet in the morning, that was not there when I fell asleep.

Here's what Research Associates Laboratory found it was Not, based on DNA primers, of what kind of acari it is not (along with other bug types it is not): Cimex Species, Dust Mites, Bed Bugs, Head/Body/Pubic Lice, Fleas, Collembola, Demodex Mites, Dermestic, Dermanhyssus Mite, Notoedres Mites, Otodectes Mites, Ornithonyssus Mite, Pyemotes, Scabies.

Kind regards,


Hello Vivian,

I have to be honest that if they aren't lice, fleas, mites, or bedbugs, then I don't know what they are. There are many different types of mites, but all the ones I would have suspected seem to have been ruled out by the Research Associates Lab. If I were you, I would try three things next:

1. Contact another lab for a second opinion. I don't doubt that the first lab's results are correct, but it is always good to get a second opinion. Maybe send a larger piece of sheet with the fecal matter so they have a nice big sample to work with.

2. See a doctor. It would be good to rule out any skin conditions, allergies, or side effects of any medications you might be taking. If they are indeed bites, then a doctor will verify that. If they are from some kind of insect infestation, then it is not unlikely that other people in your area are also having the same problem (and that your doctor has seen other cases).

3. Contact an exterminator. If there is an infestation, they should be able to recognize it. Even if they don't, they can try treatments that might help.

I am sorry to hear about the trouble this is causing you. It sounds awful. Good luck and let me know if you find out anything.


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Jessica Mellinger


I can answer questions about invertebrates native to California, including insects commonly found in homes. If you have an identification request, please attach a photo to your question.


I was involved in collection and identification of invertebrates for the United States Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division for six years. Also, I provided these same services intermittently for the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment for many years. I have been a member of since 2009.

Department of the Interior: United States Geological Survey, Davis Field Station; University of California, Davis Aggie Alumni Association; UC Davis Center for Neuroscience; U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

I have two B.A.'s from the University of California, Davis and two Associate's degrees from Sacramento City College.

Awards and Honors
Special Thanks for Achieving Results award from the Department of the Interior

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