Entomologists, please weigh in on what type of insect this is.
May 5, 2009 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Entomologists!!! What kind of bug is this?

any entomologists out there want to tell me what kind of bug this is? the picture is blurry because a) the bug was captured using a q-tip drenched in rubbing alcohol, b) the bug is very small (it would be a speck on the end of the q-tip), and c) the bug was transferred to a scanner after the alcohol dried.

in your response, please tell me how certain you are regarding the type of bug (as in, "i'm an entomologist and i'm 100% certain," or "i'm about 85% certain, but hold no degrees in insectology," etc.).

thank you so much for your help and time!
posted by binocularfight to Science & Nature (13 answers total)
Where are you?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:21 PM on May 5, 2009

Not an entomologist, but is it perhaps a Psocid (book louse)?

More info in this previous question.
posted by snowleopard at 11:06 PM on May 5, 2009

Looks to me like a baby cricket, possibly a Jerusalem cricket.
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:08 PM on May 5, 2009

I was thinking Jerusalem cricket too, probably a hatchling or nymph. Can't really crosscheck it on Google though as the species seems rather very poorly documented except in adult form.
posted by crapmatic at 11:12 PM on May 5, 2009

Where did you find it?

If it is a "speck on the end of a q-tip", it's probably not a Jerusalem cricket. It could be a springtail (they are very tiny), or... a bedbug.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:16 PM on May 5, 2009

your picture is quite close to this one of a booklouse. I am not an entomologist and I am 33% sure.
posted by Rumple at 12:00 AM on May 6, 2009

Phooey - I train exterminators, but I can't see the picture from work.
From your description of the size, it definitely sounds like some sort of louse or psocid. It would be awfully small for a bedbug (even a nymph).
I'll take a look later tonight unless someone here comes up with a definitve answer.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:44 AM on May 6, 2009

What's That Bug
posted by electroboy at 6:58 AM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

thank you, everyone, for your responses. the reason i posted this picture is because i'm terrified i may have bedbugs. here are a couple more pictures of what i found. one shows the bug's size and another shows the bug on the qtip. per eletroboy's suggestion, i sent an e-mail to the "what's that bug" folks. here's what it said, which will answer everyone else's questions above:

"i live in milwaukee, wisconsin, where spring has finally sprung. in mid march, i went to puerto rico. when i came back, i put my backback and other travel bag in a closet.

three mornings ago, i woke up with bug bites. the first morning, there were three on my stomach (in a line) and one on my palm. the second morning, there was one on my neck, one on a finger and one more on my stomach. at this point, i freaked. i'm concerned i have bed bugs.

so in a mad frenzy, i have completely cleaned my bedroom. i checked everywhere online guides said to check - along mattress seams, inside my box spring, along wooden baseboards, in cracks between planks of wood flooring, on wooden bedroom furniture. i found nothing - no blood stains, no bugs, no fecal remnants, nothing. and then i thought about puerto rico, where i was getting lots of bug bites at night, but didn't know anything about bed bugs then so never checked while i was there. because it's now warm out in milwaukee, i thought it was possible for the bed bugs to have been dormant until recently. so i started looking through everything in the closet where i keep my bag, and i found bugs. i can't tell if they're bed bug nymphs or booklice. uploaded images one and two are scans of one specimin that i caught live. [for metafilter readers: these photos are my original photo posting, plus one that i posted as a link in this posting]

the bites: after swelling goes down, there is a definitive, hard spot in the middle of the bite (except on the largest one, which now looks like a bunch of broken blood vessels). they itch.

more info: since the cleaning frenzy, i have not received any more bites. also, i know that bed bugs can give off a sickly sweet smell, which i haven't experienced anywhere in my home. also, i have a dog and a cat. i purchased and applied flea, tick and mite prevention on the same day as the cleaning frenzy. finally, and this is the doozy...the morning after the second bite happened, i found a reddish brown bug under my pillow. bed bugs are reddish brown after feeding, but i didn't think they stuck around after feeding (this was around 10am). it was a slow mover, and i grabbed it between my fingers. i don't have a perfect memory of our interaction, but it was certainly smaller than the 5mm bed bug descriptions i've been finding. it had a very hard body and was difficult to kill (sorry to get violent, but i was concerned it was the source of my bites). it was entirely reddish brown, and no blood came out when i crushed it. also, i remember it having a very flat, thin body, but not parallel to the ground flat - perpendicular to the ground. this is also not what bed bugs are like, but maybe i'm misremembering. it all happened so fast!

finally, i'm a fool and didn't save that sample. so the specimin you're seeing is one of the bugs out of my closet, where the bags are. the bug i found in my bed looked very different from this specimin. if the specimin i describe sounds familiar, i'd love to hear what you think about that.

thanks for your help and time, and for reading my rather lengthy narrative. and in my defense, under normal circumstances, i'm the person who will capture a bug and put it outside. i hate killing things!"
posted by binocularfight at 9:19 AM on May 6, 2009

one more update: i haven't had any bites for two nights now.
posted by binocularfight at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2009

It doesn't look like a bedbug to me (they're darker), but the description of three bites in a row sounds like bedbug bites. Of course, you're a little paranoid now, so you could also be suffering from confirmation bias.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2009

I just looked at the pictures and you don't have anything to worry about. That's a psocid. Notice in your photos the very small thorax relative to the abdomen, the segmented abdomen, and the hint of the chewing mandible. The color is also right. A bedbug has a totally different shape, is darker, and has a piercing-sucking mouthpart (think kind of like a mosquito).
posted by Coffeemate at 7:10 PM on May 6, 2009

you just made my night, and my corresponding next day, and possibly my week and month as well. thank you!
posted by binocularfight at 9:50 PM on May 6, 2009

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