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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Need help identifying tiny round dark bug


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Hi Eric,

I live in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY and about two months ago we discovered we had a minor infestation of bed bugs. We had the whole apartment sprayed and bombed several times over and no one has reported getting bitten in over 3 weeks. This morning I noticed a tiny, round dark reddish/brown bug on my bedroom floor, though it was already dead. I've done a lot of research looking up images of bed bugs and it really didn't strike me as a baby bed bug since it was very round rather than long. It obviously COULD just be another dead bed bug but it sort of looks like a spider beetle to me. I took some photos of it placed next to a penny for scale. What do you think?


Dear Layla:

Congratulations on doing your homework!  It is indeed spider beetles you are dealing with,probably this one:

Many, many old buildings seem to have colonies of these insects.  Exactly what they subsist on seems to be something of a mystery because they endure even in the absence of human tenants.  At most, I consider them to be a nuisance pest, though I would throw out any infested food items because they could be feeding on molds, mildews, or fungi that *could* be a health risk.

Spider beetles often "play dead" when alarmed, by the way.

Do not use chemical controls if you can avoid it.  Think of chemicals as the equivalent of nuclear weapons:  something to be used as an absolute last resort.  Practicing prevention is your best bet against pests.

Good luck, take care. Your husband married one smart woman :-)


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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

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One of the top 50 experts in all categories for, 2009.

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Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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