Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Insect identification

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weird bug
weird bug  
QUESTION: Hi,

I live in northeast Kansas, and need help identifying an insect that has shown up in my apartment. About three weeks ago, I started to notice them show up, notified my apartment complex, and they did a treatment the following week. Now, a little over a week after treatment, I have found a couple more moving around. Where I have found them is usually around the baseboards or under the fridge in my kitchen, or near the baseboards in my living room. My complex told me they are oak mites, but I can't find anything online that looks exactly like them to confirm that's what it is. They are probably about 1/8 of an inch, black, have little pinchers and DO bite. Please help!

Jessica

ANSWER: Dear Jessica - This is a small weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Although your image quality is not sufficient for me to be absolutely certain, this most likely is one of the grain/granary weevils in the genus Sitophilus. Their larvae develop primarily in whole grains (seeds) of various kinds; usually wheat, corn (maize), or rice. I suggest that if you store whole grains/seeds of any kind that you inspect them for any signs of insect infestation. See <http://tinyurl.com/nk2zd9k> for more detailed information.
Hope this helps,
Saugy

p.s. I would not trust advice from anyone who would mistake a weevil like this for any kind of mite...

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

QUESTION: Hi Saugy,

Thanks for your reply.

The photo you linked to certainly looked like what is in my apartment. I checked my pantry though, and could not find anything that was infested. I poured out my rice and found nothing, and pretty much everything else is packaged. Like I stated before, they stick mainly to my base boards... Occasionally one or two will climb the wall. If they are weevils, what can I do on my own to rid of them and prevent them from coming back?

Answer
Dear Jessica - As you live in an apartment complex, it is possible that one of your neighbors has an infestation, and that you are seeing a spillover of sorts from that. Short of hermetically sealing your apartment, it is nearly impossible to keep something as small and mobile as these critters from gaining entry.
  Stored food products pests excluded, weevils in general are not going to do any harm to anything indoors, and I suggest simply vacuuming up any that you see. Also, it's always a good idea to store any dry food products (such as flour, grains, cereals, pasta, nuts, dried fruit, etc.) in sealable glass, plastic, or metal containers or in the refrigerator. Prevention almost always is easier than control.

Hope this helps,
Saugy

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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