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Pests/Tiny Splinter Looking Biting Insect

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Question
I was sitting outdoors when my white tank top seemed to attract an insect I have not ever seen before.  I was alarmed due to how extremely tiny this insect is and it bites.  I was bitten on my chest and smashed it.  As I checked my tank to, it appears there were probably a dozen more  crawling over it and I smashed all but one.  I am unable to get a clear photo due to their size.  The size is a tiny splinter which is sort of a rust color.  A pencil point is larger than this.  I can relate the size to a tad bit larger than mites on a bird.  These little trolls are longer and thinner than a bird mite.
I read another blog that claims there are no such insects which exist.  I'm here to say 'Yes there are.' and I have proof.
Please advise because I want to know how they got here, why they are here, and how to eradicate.  
Thank you!

Answer
Julie,

This is one of the few times that I don't need a picture because your description is perfect. These insects are often called "splinters (slivers) that bite". These are called thrips and they normally feed on plants but will occasionally bite people too. The bites are completely harmless. See http://www.livingwithbugs.com/thrips.html for more about thrips and a close-up picture.

Jack DeAngelis

Pests

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects such as aphids and spider mites, insects that bite and sting such as ticks and wasps, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.

Experience

20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

Organizations
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html Fine Gardening magazine

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology (the study of insects)

Awards and Honors
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

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