Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery Bug


mystery bug
mystery bug  
The last three times I have changed my bed sheets, I have found one of these bugs.  Just one.  I thoroughly checked my mattress for signs of bedbugs and found none.  Neither my husband nor myself have had any evidence of bites, and everything I've been able to find says that with bedbugs, where's there's one, there's more.  I know the picture is poor quality for the actual insect, but I submitted it anyway for scale.  The pictures I found showed bedbugs to be much rounder than the one I found, which is elongated and rather flat. The three that I've found have all been dead.  I haven't been able to find any images of bugs that match this one, so I was hoping you could perhaps point me in the right direction?  I live in mid-Michigan, if that helps at all.

Dear Emily - Although I cannot see enough detail in your image to be confident of an identification, I can assure you that it is not a bed bug. My best guess is that it is a tiny beetle, perhaps one of the grain beetles in the genus Oryzaephilus; see http://tinyurl.com/k8x657u for an example. These beetles sometimes can be pantry pests, infesting dry stored food products such as flour, baking mixes, dry cereals, dry pet food, etc. I suggest that you place your specimens in a small container, and take them to your county office of Michigan State University's Cooperative Extension Service, see http://tinyurl.com/ksgkzp5 for links to contact information. Someone there should be able to assist you with identification and provide any necessary control advice.
Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.