I hate bugs.
March 22, 2009 12:11 PM   Subscribe

what the hell are these bugs?

These showed up maybe a week ago when it started to get warm. Every day when I get home from work There are maybe 50-100 of these on the floor in front of the fridge. I haven't seen them anywhere else in the kitchen, in the cupboards, fridge,etc. but this floor. They seem to get active when the day gets warm since I never see them other than around 2-3pm each day. I have been vacuuming them up but they keep coming back!

Heres a pic and one with my thumb for scale. Sorry I can't get more detail but my iphone camera sucks. They seem to have a little pattern on their back that is black/brown.
posted by zennoshinjou to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the pics and description are not much to go on (in fact the closeup looked like a bedbug or something), but the general appearance of the "clustering" that I see on the pics, and the behavior with the weather getting warm to me strongly suggests ladybugs. You may want to check through this gallery at the bottom of the page to see if it looks like any of the non-classic types.
posted by crapmatic at 12:21 PM on March 22, 2009

unless you've got one huge thumb, I don't think that's a ladybug, at least not the kind we see here...
posted by HuronBob at 12:27 PM on March 22, 2009

You might have a cigarette beetle infestation.

You can get these from dried flowers, spices with larvae along for the ride (paprika is the most common vehicle, as it's one of their favourite foods), and so many other possibilities that I'm just going to link you to the google search.

We've had these before - and paprika was our vehicle. The nice kind that comes in a fancy tin. It took us a long time to figure out what they were and how to get rid of them, but we did finally find the contamination source (sources, really, since they'd had so long to get spread out) and followed the instructions for pesticide-free removal and have been free of them ever since. In that time, we've almost become infested twice more because of spices containing larvae. We no longer buy tinned paprika and put any dried spices and herbs (since we once found them in the dill) in the freezer for a week before using them.
posted by batmonkey at 12:39 PM on March 22, 2009

Response by poster: I added another picture taken as best I could with a nicer camera.. it does look ladybug-ish but the shell isn't shiny.
posted by zennoshinjou at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2009

Check your chickpeas. I had little bugs like this, dead in clusters around the kitchen (mine particularly liked the window area, but were soon found in the cupboards and then in packets of food like rice and pasta and dried beans). I couldn't work out where there were coming from, I threw away a ton of stuff when I spotted but we still had bugs.

Then I moved house and I looked again at an old packet of chickpeas, there were little holes in all the peas and the packet was full of the bugs. At first they hadn't been dying in the cupboard, so I didn't think they were coming from there to begin with.

I think we had bean weevils.
posted by Helga-woo at 12:42 PM on March 22, 2009

Response by poster: they do look a bit like tiny bean weevils.. I will toss all my dried beans. Any other input in support or to the contrary would be appreciated!
posted by zennoshinjou at 12:56 PM on March 22, 2009

I was thinking clover mites -- do they smear orange when you wipe them up? Here's another link.
posted by barnone at 1:07 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: Looks like carpet beetles (click on the various "Carpet Beetle" links to see the individual posts) to me, especially in your third photo.
posted by CKmtl at 1:38 PM on March 22, 2009

Response by poster: Not clover mites-- shape and proportions are wrong.
posted by zennoshinjou at 1:40 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: I think carpet beetles too. I've seen these little guys now and then around the various houses I've lived in, for as long as I can remember, but never that many at once; usually just one at a time. Check under your carpets near that location!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 2:01 PM on March 22, 2009

Response by poster: so saying they are- how do I get rid of them? I would prefer to not call an exterminator for my pets sake.
posted by zennoshinjou at 2:07 PM on March 22, 2009

This place seems to have pretty comprehensive info, including prevention.
posted by CKmtl at 2:41 PM on March 22, 2009

Ooh, I've always wanted to know what those strange little bugs were in my old house (and once in a while in my new one), and how to get rid of them. Thanks for the links!
posted by sixcolors at 2:58 PM on March 22, 2009

They look a lot like bugs we've had two or three times in our kitchen. Once, I was getting "bug falls" on the stove, and it turned out they were living in a box of cornmeal in the cupboard above the stove; another time, on the other side of the kitchen, they had moved into a nice paper bag of whole-wheat bread flour.

In both cases, I got rid of them by finding their food source, dumping whatever they were eating and thoroughly wiping down the shelves it had been on. Now, I put all kinds of grain products in plastic bags or canisters, and haven't had them again.
posted by not that girl at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2009

Carpet beetles.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:15 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: They definitely look like carpet beetles to me, although I'm not sure why they'd be pooling around the kitchen like that. Start looking around the rest of your house for the larvae -- that's the real source. Is there maybe something above or behind the fridge area? Their favorite things to eat are animal products -- wool, silk, pet hair, your hair, leather, etc, but they will also eat any fabric with significant amounts of dirt on it -- food, sweat, dead skin, etc. If there's a carpeted area that doesn't get much traffic, sunlight, or vacuuming, that would be a perfect place for them. If you've seen little holes in your clothing it's more often carpet-beetle larvae than moths.

I didn't get in an exterminator either and didn't want to use chemicals because we had a pet. Extreme heat is the most effective method for death, for the eggs, larvae, and adults. I bought a clothing steamer and steamed all of my clothing. You could also get a steam cleaner or steam vacuum. You'll want to vacuum EVERYWHERE, especially around the baseboards. If you have one or can borrow one, use a canister vacuum just so that it's easier to clean and less likely that the f@ckers will be clinging to things.

Borax and/or boric acid (I never was able to figure out the difference) also is supposed to kill them and is supposed to be not harmful for pets or humans. Moth balls and other pthe-whatever products that are used to deter/kill moths don't work.

If you do find the larvae and they really are carpet beetles, you'll have to be so vigilant. Vacuum everything all the time. Every fabric/upholstered thing will have to be either washed in hot water, dry-cleaned, hit with steam, or thrown in the dryer (things that might shrink in the dryer, like a wool sweater, only shrink if they're wet -- you can put them dry right into the dryer).
posted by thebazilist at 3:47 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was just about to say carpet beetles because I looked it up earlier today when I found a tiny black and tan striped bug.
posted by mathowie at 8:13 PM on March 22, 2009

They definitely look like carpet beetles to me, although I'm not sure why they'd be pooling around the kitchen like that. ...Their favorite things to eat are animal products -- wool, silk, pet hair, your hair, leather, etc,

If you have a pet who sheds, it is fairly common for the hair to accumulate under the fridge, so check for that.
posted by mikepop at 5:46 AM on March 23, 2009

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