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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Having trouble identifying a bug


QUESTION: Hello Jessica,

Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.  Last night when I went to look in under bed plastic containers, I found very tiny bugs on top of the containers, the bugs were actually underneath some paper posters I had inadvertently put on top of the containers (4 containers, side by side). They seemed to be limited to the top of the containers, underneath the paper. But they did not seem to be inside the containers. They were very small, light brown, uniform in color as far as I could see, and sort of the shape of a grain of rice, but smaller and flatter. Not oval, not round, sort of like a tiny, tiny surfboard.  I could not see how many legs they had, they did not seem to have wings. I could and did crush them all with my fingers.  

In a mild panic, I crushed them all, sprayed the top of the containers with Hydrogen Peroxide, and cleaned them all (they were quite dusty on top); then I vacuumed everything thoroughly.  

In the panic, I checked for other bugs in the bed, and vacuumed all the crevices of the bed.  It is an Ikea bed that does not have a box spring, just wooden slats that hold the mattress up.  The mattress is not made of traditional material, but is more like a dense sponge.  I found no bugs that were larger than the ones on the top of the containers, and those bugs were all the same size.  Which led me to believe that maybe, hopefully, that was just the size of that bug and they were not "kids" with future growth potential. I am crossing my fingers...

I know the bugs had not been there for long because the posters have not been there for long, and there were not that many of them, although enough for me to panic - I hate bugs. :-)

I checked this morning and they are not back.  Some other information: San Francisco is very moist, as is this particular apartment.  I have occasionally found mold on clothing, paper, old metal venitian blinds, and furniture, and utilize "damp rid" a lot.  I recently bought a new houseplant.  I have not travelled recently.

I hope this is helpful and if there are any other questions I can answer, please feel free to ask.
Thank you again

ANSWER: Hi Denise,

Thank you for the question. Please attach a photo if you would like an identification.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Jessica,

I don't have the technology available to take a photo. Plus, they are all dead and gone. Since I sent the question 3 days ago, there have been no more sightings.  I also ripped the bed apart and did not see one other bug.

They were light to medium brown, VERY tiny, and the shape of a surfboard; not a long board, a standard surf board. They didn't go nuts when the light hit them, but attempted to get away when I was crushing them.

Any speculation you can give, regarless of whether it is spot on or not, would be welcome.  

Thank you.

Hello Denise,

I apologize that without a photograph, there is no way to make an identification, especially without information about number of legs, wings, texture and patterning, eye type and shape, etc. I can tell you that there are a number of critters that fit your description, but that if they are completely gone, you have nothing to be concerned about. Websites with good photos of two common insects in CA homes that fit your description are below. Perhaps it is one of these.

Bed bugs:

Carpet beetle larvae:

Good luck!


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jessica Mellinger


I can answer questions about invertebrates native to California, including insects commonly found in homes. If you have an identification request, please attach a photo to your question.


I was involved in collection and identification of invertebrates for the United States Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division for six years. Also, I provided these same services intermittently for the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment for many years. I have been a member of since 2009.

Department of the Interior: United States Geological Survey, Davis Field Station; University of California, Davis Aggie Alumni Association; UC Davis Center for Neuroscience; U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

I have two B.A.'s from the University of California, Davis and two Associate's degrees from Sacramento City College.

Awards and Honors
Special Thanks for Achieving Results award from the Department of the Interior

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