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Pest Control/Tiny bugs crawling on my floor

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QUESTION: I had a flood from the air conditioning system 2 months ago which caused some of the parquet floor tiles to buckle. It dried out and flattened out. I think this may be the cause of what I see. It started when I saw a really tiny whitish dot crawling on a magazine. A week later, I saw a few bugs on my white laptop. They crawled up the wire. They are brownish or black, with 6 legs and antennae. They are 1 mm and what I think are the babies are grayish and even smaller. I empty the dustbuster and put them on a piece of typing paper and throw it out. The exterminator was in the building 2 days ago and took some live ones back to the lab for analysis in a ziploc bag. I also sent about 15 that I taped down the first day by my computer, put the white paper around the table.

It is really making me stressed because every time I vacuum, I get 10 of them. I wash the filter and the outside, dry it and start all over again, all day. What do you think they are? What can I do to get rid of them? One time I had plaster beetles all over my wall from my neighbor's flood (we share a wall, she had them too) and they drilled a hole in the wall with a drying agent. If these are plaster beetles now, why are they on the floor? The exterminator thought that's what they might be, he mentioned fungus beetles. Do they just die off under dry conditions? I picture this going on forever and I think I will lose my mind. They aren't biting me but it's just very scary. Thank you.

ANSWER: Susan,

Can you post of picture of these bugs? I can't tell from your description what these are. Did you mean "plaster bagworm" instead of plaster beetle? The "tiny whitish dot" was probably a mold mite (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/mold_mites.html for a drawing and description). If you can get a clear image of these critters I'll be able to help you figure this out.

Jack DeAngelis


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QUESTION: Hi Jack, the exterminator said beetle. He had an eyecup, we both saw the legs. Maybe the dots I see are mites in addition to the beetles, I see some that actually have legs but they are even tinier than the actual bug, smaller than the head of a straight pin. I thought they may be the same bug, just a baby. Here is a picture; I don't know if it will enlarge. It is under scotch tape so hard to see. I am almost sure I see 6 legs with the magnifying glass and definitely 2 antennae.

I read that if this is what it is, they don't normally spray. How could they spray my whole floor? I just keep vacuuming, spray Murphy's and vinegar. I am even using a very hot hair dryer on every square inch thinking this will kill them. I hope this picture helps if you can enlarge it. It is 1 mm long. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

ANSWER: The white dots were almost certainly mold mites and if the dampness/moisture from the flood is gone the mites will be gone as well.

I can't see enough detail in the photo to id the species but it appears to be a beetle. Since "plaster beetle" is not a common name I'm familiar with I'm guessing this is a regional name perhaps. This could be one of the dermestid beetles that are very common in homes. See http://www.livingwithbugs.com/carpet_beetle.html for a related species. These beetles are harmless so there's no reason to be overly concerned. They infest stored foods and dry pet foods to check your storage areas carefully. Insecticides are not needed nor are they very effective. Once you locate the infested source (stored or spilled food) then cleaning is usually enough.

Jack DeAngelis


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QUESTION: Just one more question, please. They are not in the kitchen...there is no food in the cupboard at all and I checked the cupboards thoroughly. They are just in the living room. I think they may be under the parquet floor from the flood, which was 3 months ago. I feel that they may be hiding underneath because right after I vacuum, more are in the canister. I just didn't see them until they appeared on my computer. I live in NYC if that helps and maybe the hurricane brought something in although I doubt it. I just used the dustbuster and in 10 minutes, there were 40 bugs when I emptied the canister. I had just used it a half hour before, so this tells me there are thousands. Most of them now are grayish and move very very fast, they are even smaller than the little 1 mm black ones. I am afraid I might have to have my whole floor replaced. The black ones also move very fast. Does this help identify them? I am sorry to ask more questions but I am really distraught and can't think of anything else. Hopefully, the lab will have results tomorrow but I would love to hear your opinion. I looked at the website you gave me but they don't look like that and they're not coming from food. What do you think an exterminator would do? He looked and said he doesn't know where they are coming from. Thanks again.

Answer
I think your best option is to collect a few and get them identified (use a damp Q-tip). There's an Extension office in NYC where you can take a sample. Check the phone book under Cornell Cooperative Extension. Once identified we can discuss control if Extension does not provide this info but they probably will. Try not to be overly concerned, they are no insects that pose a serious threat especially ones so small.

Jack DeAngelis

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions about the control of pest insects, spiders, mites and related arthropods. These household pests include termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, nuisance ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, wasps, and many others. I can also answer questions about using pesticides and other pest control tools such as baits and traps.

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I am a retired university extension entomologist. I've taught and conducted research in urban and agricultural entomology. I've published over 70 extension publications, 20 research publications and several books about insects.

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Ph.D. in Entomology

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