Mystery bugs
April 14, 2012 3:22 AM   Subscribe

A few months ago, I began noticing tiny bugs in my place. They appear very sporadic - I may see one or two a week at best - but it's always the same kind. I'd like to see no bugs in my place at all, ideally.

Before you ask: Yes, I tried to take a photo of a bug, but it's really tiny and either the photo is blurry, or you only see a dot. I try my best to describe the bug though:

- Size of the head of a needle, if not smaller.
- Brown, with lighter/tan dots.
- Not shiny like a ladybug; it's matte.

These bugs are able to fly and obviously attracted by light, as the only time I ever encounter them is when they kamikaze into my desk lamp.

So far, I have been unable to locate their origin. I live in the city center, with the train station in my backyard, so during the day, my windows are usually closed in the living room. There is little vegetation here, except a few trees, and those bugs are around since somewhen before Christmas - it was really really cold then. All of that makes me doubt they come from outside.
The bugs almost exclusively appear in my living room. I have searched other rooms, but no bugs there, except a dead one in the corridor, near the living room door.

Now, I have completely renovated my living room last month. New carpet, paint, and mostly new furniture. With the room stripped down to bare walls and floor, there was still no sign of a bug nest. Since the encounters were rare anyway, I shrugged and thought maybe they did come from the balcony, after all. As usual, there were no new encounters for a week or two. But alas, we are back to the way things were before: once or twice a week a bug kamikazes into my desk lamp. All things considered, I'm beyond thinking it's random bugs from outside and want to locate their source before they finally decide to come in swarms or something.

Other info:
Very west of Germany, in a very industrialized area. Nearest forest is kilometers away.
The one thing that sets the living room apart from the other rooms are polystrene panels under the ceiling that were here when I moved in 3 years ago. There are such panels in the kitchen and bedroom, but when renovating, I noticed that one is a bit loose in the living room. Could the tiny bugs be living in/under that panel? The damage is small and hard to see; the corner may have been loose before - for example since the bugs started appearing. Sounds a bit like a stretch though.

What are those bugs (do I want to know?) and how do I get rid of them for good?
posted by MinusCelsius to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Can you describe their wings? Do they have a shell?

I'm wondering if they could be fruitflies. If they are, apparently a bowl of vinegar with a drop of dishwashing detergent works well as a trap.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:31 AM on April 14, 2012

Response by poster: They look like really really tiny forest bugs. In their shape and anatomy, they are 100 % like this - except really small, maybe 3 mm long, and the wings aren't shiny.
They aren't fruit (or any other) flies.
posted by MinusCelsius at 3:42 AM on April 14, 2012

Best answer: Carpet beetles? I certainly used to see them in the east of the Netherlands, so I'm sure you get them across the border in western Germany too.

They don't bite, but the larvae like eating natural fibres, so they count as pests. There's plenty of information on the internet about dealing with them. Reading about them on Wikipedia etc. may well alarm you, so: for what it's worth, I've always found the odd carpet beetle about the place, but sporadic encounters have never escalated to full-on infestation, and I've never seen much in the way of clothing damage either.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:15 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

They don't bite

Er, to clarify, I meant "they don't bite people", either defensively or for food.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:54 AM on April 14, 2012

Best answer: My first thought was carpet beetles as well. It's actually a somewhat varied family of beetles--most have the same generally oval shape and small size, but they range somewhat in size and coloration. This page has an overview of the family, and if you scroll down you can click through to the various genuses such as trogoderma or the somewhat more brightly-marked species in the genus anthrenus.
posted by drlith at 5:03 AM on April 14, 2012

Agree it's carpet beetles. The exterminator told me the best thing is just to vacuum regularly, which I'm sure you do, and protect your clothing.
posted by jgirl at 5:52 AM on April 14, 2012

Response by poster: Yes, that picture is exactly it. And in fact, the living room is the only room that has carpet; all other rooms have wood or tiles. Still amazing they survived the renovation and replacement of nearly all furniture (at least all that aren't plain wood or metal).
My clothes are obviously not in the living room anyway, but I know I'll get paranoid about my new sofas. Time to buy a stronger vacuum cleaner, if only to put my mind at ease.
posted by MinusCelsius at 3:39 PM on April 14, 2012

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