Entomology (Study of Bugs)/please help


red bug
red bug  
QUESTION: Can u please tell me what kinda bug this is. I live in California and I found it on my bed and some on my wall by the window. Do they bite? What should I do bout them? I thought it ţ be a tick or bed bug, it was easy to squish and full of blood. Please help I have a 2year old.

ANSWER: Dear Christine - This appears to be a nymph of a hard tick (family Ixodidae), but I cannot be more precise as the diagnostic features are not visible in your image. As ticks in this family can be vectors of several diseases, you likely should consult a physician if your child develops a febrile illness (especially if a rash also is present) within the next couple of weeks.
  The fact that you have seen several of these in your home is interesting in that the only species likely to actually infest homes is the brown dog tick, and that species' nymph does not look like your example (see http://tinyurl.com/yalywye).  Are you sure that the ones seen by the window are exactly the same as the one found on the bed? There is a very common mite called the clover mite (Bryobia praetiosa), that is harmless, but their bodily fluids are red so it appears blood-filled when squished. They are easily told apart from tick nymphs or larvae by having their front pair of legs much longer than the others - see http://tinyurl.com/nzya6ry for an image.
 I suggest that you contact your county office of California's Cooperative Extension Service for advice on tick control/prevention; see http://tinyurl.com/arr6xu9 for links to contact information.

Hope this helps,

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


QUESTION: Yes I am sure it is the exact same bug that I found on the wall crawling on my bed. We have 2 German Shepard dogs but they r kept outside, so how is it possible to get them in my room were ne n my daughter sleep? we r never outdoors. Well I have a quick question r theis new bugs a life cycle if the first bug? Bc iv also found them crawling on my bed, & is it possible I'm to blame somehow for them being in our room? Please help me how do I get rid of the m? I'm starting to freakout, I feel things crawling on me all day long, but u know itsonly my imagination bc it only started wen I saw the first few bugs. R any of theis bugs harmful to my daughter? Should I fumagate the whole house? Will they die? Please help me!

Dear Christine - These are entirely different from your first specimen, the top one is a springtail, a harmless scavenger on bits of decomposing organic matter and that are extremely abundant in the general environment; the lower one also might be a springtail, but it is too damaged for me to be sure. It certainly does not appear to be anything to be concerned about. And fumigating/'bug-bombing' your house likely would pose a far greater health risk to your daughter than that posed by the insects you're trying to control.
   The Cooperative Extension Service I referenced in my initial reply to you is an excellent resource to access when dealing with most home/yard/garden pest problems. I suggest that you submit any critters you find in your home that you think might be harmful to them for assistance in identification as well as for any recommended control measures. Please bear in mind that once you have eliminated obvious pests such as termites, carpet beetles, or fleas, the vast majority of insects and other arthropods that find their way indoors are accidental intruders that will do no harm.

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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