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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Little black bugs in my bed!



I live on the Tennessee/ Kentucky border and in the late afternoon today I started seeing these black bugs crawling on my bed. They don't seem to fly or jump and they have small antennae with elongated butts. I can't tell where they are coming from and I've never seen them before but they just keep popping up. Sometimes their rear ends will stick up almost at a 90 degree angle. Do you know what these are?

Hi, Haley:

Thank you for including the clear images with your question.  I would have made the wrong suggestion were it not for the pictures.

These are de-alate subterranean termites.  That is, they are reproductive males and females (as opposed to sterile workers and soldiers, which are white).  They once had wings (as "alates"), but after flying and landing shed those appendages (now they are "de-alates").  The ones in pairs are now looking for places to set up housekeeping.

Ones with their rear ends in the air are females "calling" for mates by emitting a scent called a pheromone that attracts the opposite sex.

Here's a blog post I wrote about termite swarms:

That has some information and links you might find helpful. I wouldn't panic, but I'd try and find out if they are emerging indoors, or drifting in from outside.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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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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