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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Tiny flying black bugs


Tiny Black flying bugs
Tiny Black flying bugs  

Tiny bugs image 2
Tiny bugs image 2  
We had a few of these tiny black winged bugs (small enough they could fit through a hole in a screen) starting in our bathroom maybe 5 - 10 off and on since September. Then in October right before Halloween we had our entire roof replaced and a ridge vent placed and removed the attic fan.  We now have THOUSANDS of these bugs in our home.  We always see them first in our bathroom near the windows on the ceilings and high wall then they seem to spread throughout the house clustered on ceilings mostly near windows in the bedrooms and occasionally downstairs. They are drawn to light.  We have put up fly paper and caught them and just when we think they are gone the temperature rises and they are back again! We can't seem to identify what they are or find out how they are getting in to our home.  We have covered drains and have no food sitting out.  Any help is greatly appreciated. Just a odd side note when I squish one they have a noticeable smell sweet I think.

Hi, Jennifer:

Thanks for including the images with your question.  I "zoomed in" on the critter, and it would appear that it is a "humpbacked fly" or "scuttle fly," family Phoridae.

Phorids are extremely diverse and can be overwhelmingly abundant.  Yours does not resemble the most abundant "domestic" species, though, which is Megaselia scalaris .  Here's my blog post on those:

Most of the indoor phorids have the same basic biology, though, and controlling them means finding out where they are breeding.

One of my friends, Dr. Brian Brown, is a world expert on phorids, and I would recommend contacting him for a more specific identification and suggestions on how to alleviate the magnitude of your situation.  Here is a page with his contact info:

Please tell him I sent you.  I don't bother him often, but he is your best bet.  Please tell him to "cc" me with his answer to you, too, so I can better address the next person with this kind of infestation.

Hope you are having a Happy Thanksgiving otherwise!


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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.

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

Past/Present Clients
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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