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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Tiny black bugs that look like poppy seeds


Poppy seed bugs
Poppy seed bugs  
We just came home and found our sheets covered in what my daughter thought was mouse droppings.  Obviously, I told her she must be crazy and came to inspect.  What I found was a bunch of black specks that looked like poppy seeds.  The dog does sometimes get in the bed so I thought maybe it was some kind of debris that was stuck in his long hair from outside.  I started to brush them off the bed and my daughter started screaming that they were moving.  I watched very close and sure enough they do move, but so slow you will miss it if you don't watch closely!  We do stay in hotels often and were at one a few days ago but these don't seem to be bed bugs.  There were none on the mattress pad under the fitted sheet.  Any idea what they may be and what I need to do?

Hi, Wendy:

Thank you for including the image, but there is simply not nearly enough detail for me to conclude what the objects are.

I would simply vacuum them up, or collect them, intact, into a zip-loc baggie or plastic vial, and take them to a local entomologist at a university (U of Maryland has an entomology department), natural history museum, state department of agriculture office, county extension office (Cooperative Extension Service, office usually located in the county seat), or even the public health department (vector control division will have at least one staff entomologist).  He or she can then put the specimens under a microscope, tell you definitively what they are, and recommend control measures.

I suspect that the dog probably did drag them in from outdoors, but it might be wise to get a professional opinion anyway.


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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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