What’s Bugging You?

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What’s Bugging You?

By Lee S. Yudin, Ph.D.
Pacific Daily News
September 26, 1998

You can become your own bug detective when trying to identify the pest or pests found in your home. Many times the pest you are trying to identify and control is not physically present, and only the damage or key signs of its presence are noticeable. Many home pests are active when you are asleep or reside in places you hardly get to when you clean your house. One nice thing about most home pests is that they leave specific signs (droppings, shed skins, egg casings) or specific damage to let you know that they are around even if you do not see them. Below is a list of sings or damage that you as homeowner can use to help identify the pest or pests in your home. The information is adapted from "What's Bugging Me?" by J. M. Tenorio and G. M. Nishida.

Identification by Signs or Damage

Open webbing around house spiders
Matted webbing in foodstuff, carpets, furniture


Small, fibrous, or bristly cases, or almond-shaped or boat shaped brown or gray cases found around fabrics or clothing, or hanging on walls moths
Brown or blackish egg-shaped or purse-shaped capsules found in dark places like kitchen drawers, cabinets, shelves, in boxes, and so forth cockroaches
Small disc like frass, pellets, black droppings termites, cockroaches, ants
Fine powdery like dust, usually droppings from furniture beetles
Vomit streaks or dried dark spots on counters, walls, in cup boards cockroaches
Holes, galleries, or chambers in furniture or books Beetles, termites
Holes, galleries, or chambers in wooden parts of the house Termites, carpenter bees, carpenter ants
Holes, abrasions, scrapings of fabrics, books, paper, carpets, hides, and other material Beetles, moths, cockroaches, silverfish, booklice
Small whitish (young) or brownish adults feeding on rice, grain, cereal products Beetles, moths
Wings scattered about on floors and other flat surfaces Termites, carpenter ants
Biting pets or people (pets of people and pets) Fleas, ticks, mites, bed bugs, ants, mosquitoes, centipedes, spiders
Stinging people Wasps, bees, ants

Identification By Habitat or Parts of House Insects are Found In

In fabrics, carpets, hides, and similar materials beetles, moths, cockroaches, ants
In wood, furniture, paper, books, cardboard, and similar material termites, beetles, silverfish, booklice, cockroaches, carpenter ants
In foodstuff beetles, moths, booklice, cockroaches, ants
In meat, cheese, other protein based foods beetles, flies
In garbage, trash, sewage, excrement (faces), and fermenting or rotting food wormlike: filth flies, fruit flies, sap beetles
adultlike, but wingless: cockroaches
In damp areas, on mold, in bathrooms, on sinks, on refrigerators booklice, cockroaches, millipedes, sowbugs, crickets, flies
Climbing walls (Outside walls) wasps, moths
Climbing walls (Inside of House) wasps, cockroaches, termites, flies

For more information about the description of these pests listed above, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Service.