Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Gold Glitter


QUESTION: Is there any insect or organisms that you know of that appear to look like gold glitter to the human eyes? Moved into a place that has had toxic mold in the basement, which is my bedroom. My skin of course is always irritated after all the work around the house. My skin is incredibly sensitive and I notice gold glitter all over my clothes and skin. I also notice it on our dark clothing after being cleaned and put away. I have a portable infrared sauna, and it looks like gold glitter all on the outside of the sauna. We have also noticed small holes in our clothing. Only thing I can think of is moths����I am so grateful for your time! Thank you! Thank you!

ANSWER: Dear Sophia - I'm sorry, but I do not know of any insect or any other organism that would present the pervasive appearance of 'glitter' that you describe. I can only suggest that you consult a dermatologist/allergist to see if anything could be done to alleviate your skin sensitivity issues.

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QUESTION: Thank you so much! Do moths bite humans? My shirts keep getting snags and holes in them. I feel like something bites my back or something is picking at my shirt. New shirts will looks fuzzy or worn after the first wear.

Thank you again.

ANSWER: Dear Sophia - No moths are capable of biting humans, but there are a few species in Asia and Africa that will suck secretions from around the eyes of birds and mammals, including humans (see http://tinyurl.com/lt2t9oa). And the apparent damage to your clothing must be caused by something other than moths, as clothes moth damage usually occurs only after extended periods in storage. Also, as you mentioned having very sensitive skin, I suspect that the feeling of something biting actually may be caused by the fabric itself or something (dye, cleaning compound, detergent residue, etc.) in it. Again, a dermatologist may be helpful in sorting things out here.

Hope this helps,

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QUESTION: You mentioned storage. Well my couches were in storage along with tons of other stuff for 2 yrs. So I was thinking and decided to flip my couch over. And after doing a quick search online it appears I have carpet beetles in my leather couch. Would these appear shiny, and would they irritate human skin and clothing? Thank you so much! I will definitely make a donation! I appreciate your opinions, and advice. Thank you again!

Dear Sophia - Adult carpet beetles are covered with scales, which gives them a very dull appearance - see http://tinyurl.com/88ckzex for an example. Even with all their scales rubbed off, they would at best appear to have a subdued gloss, rather than being truly shiny - see http://tinyurl.com/nkajaax for an example (and note that this image was taken with a strong flash). Also, their larvae are quite hairy, and definitely would not be shiny - see http://tinyurl.com/otzgn59 for an example. There are reports of people experiencing skin irritation from exposure to the hairs of these larvae, but "Apparently, only individuals that have long-term exposure (years) to these hairs become sensitized." - see http://tinyurl.com/3pa92oh for details.

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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