Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Mystery Bug ID


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Help!  I discovered these mystery bugs in my kitchen on Thursday, 9/11.  The 2nd picture with the toaster oven knob was where I discovered them, then I looked up and the were VERY dense on top of the oven, swiping you finger across would leave a finger print.  Literally hundreds of thousands if I had to guess.  Well, they are now in my whole kitchen and as much as I wipe things down, they crawl out of more crevices.  I had a pest control guy out today and he didn't know what they were; however he did confirm (much to his surprise) that I wasn't crazy and that they do move, rather swiftly for their size.  The first picture was taken a few minutes ago.  I tried to get a closer up view for identification purposes.  At first I thought that they were aphids as I had had some home grown tomatoes in the house, but now I think they might be flour mites.  But where did they come from?  Could they have come in prepared bread from the store?  They are about the size of a pin point if not smaller.  The pest control people are going to fog the downstairs later this week, but it would be more effective if we knew what we were treating!  Thanks!

Dear Mandy - Anything that small just about has to be a mite. Although flour mites (Acarus siro) would be a likely possibility, storage mites (Glycyphagus domesticus) might be considered as well. Both species require moist/humid conditions to persist, so lowering indoor humidity levels to the extent feasible should be a start. Then, you should try to locate their food source(s). With flour mites, this will be in a food storage area such as your pantry (inspect all dry food products, including dry pet food, for signs of infestation, discard anything found infested, place all other items in sealable plastic, glass or metal containers, and clean all pantry surfaces with a mild bleach solution), but storage mites often have been found in old-fashioned upholstered furniture, in particular in damp items where the stuffing is moldy. The mites feed on the fungus therein and can multiply rapidly.
  I strongly suggest that you contact your local office of the University of Virginia's Cooperative Extension Service (see http://tinyurl.com/3nx6duz for contact links) to see if they can offer more specific control measures. Extension Service offices usually are a good resource for when dealing with most home/yard/garden pest problems.

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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