Bug Identification - Tiny Black Dot Edition
September 27, 2018 4:45 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out if I should be concerned. Last night I go up from bed and in the bathroom saw a black bug the size of a freckle or sesame seed moving across my torso. Any idea what they could be, and anything I should do now or if I see more? Online searches are not helpful.

I squished it, which didn't do anything. It just stopped moving and when I used my nail to try to cut it in half, I could but it didn't appear to have any insides, it was too small. Then I went to the sink and in the mirror I saw another freckle on my torso where there wasn't normally one and when I got closer it either fell/jumped off and I couldn't find it on my tiles. I have no bite marks, no itching (psychosomatic only), and no evidence of more in my bed. NYC if it matters. (I didn't think they were fleas; which I thought were larger and bit.) What to do?
posted by MCMLXXXIV to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What to do? Wait until you find one, and post a photo of it. Bed bugs go through a couple of growth phases where they're quite dark in colour, and they're also sesame-seed-shaped. BUT there's every chance it was something much more innocuous.
posted by pipeski at 4:58 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fleas are about that size, are difficult to squish (natural selection at work there), and when they jump they sometimes appear to just vanish. They do bite of course, but not all the time; much of the time they're just sort of hanging out.

I think they were fleas.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:00 AM on September 27, 2018 [8 favorites]

Yes, sounds like fleas. Should you (god forbid) get bitten, a flea-bite is small, concentrated, red and raised above the surrounding skin level. If it's not that, maybe somebody else has some better guidance.
posted by aqsakal at 5:05 AM on September 27, 2018

All signs point to flea, lack of squishability, disappearing act, found on body.

There’s some very small chance it could have been a very small deer tick larvae, but those tend to not disappear, and are much less common than fleas in deep urban environments.

If you couldn’t easily squish it, it is certainly not a bedbug, they are super soft.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:25 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

IMO - fleas are pretty bad in NYC this year. I’m battling them myself - I’ve had to quarantine the cat and no one is happy. If you want to take precautions you can sprinkle a little diatomaceous earth or cimexa around.
posted by rdnnyc at 5:26 AM on September 27, 2018

You won't find bedbugs on your skin, or at least I've never heard of it. Bedbugs wait until you're sleeping to come out and do their dirty deed, then creep off to their hidey-holes before you wake up.

Fleas, by contrast, will settle in on your body and make themselves at home.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:34 AM on September 27, 2018

Sounds like a flea, especially if f you have furry companions that sleep with you. Best way to kill a flea if you find one is pinch it and roll it between your fingers like a little seed; you'll break its legs and it will be unable to hop or bite. They're almost impossible to squish.

If you have a flea infestation you'll be able to hear them on the tile floor as they jump towards heat sources (like you). It'll be tiny little "tick tick tick' sounds. I hate that sound.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:36 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here is an easy way to catch fleas, and to see whether it is fleas you are dealing with:
Put a candle in a flat bowl. Put water in the bowl and add some dish soap. At night, light the candle. Fleas will be drawn to the light and heat, and then drown in the soapy water.
Another option: light the bowl from above with a desk lamp.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:59 AM on September 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I was just going to say, too -- since they're hard to squish, we always (lots of animals in the household) used to put a bit of dish soap in the toilet and then drop them in there when we caught them. Ew. I'm one of those people bugs love to bite.

Wear some white socks around the house -- you'll be able to see when they jump on you, if they are fleas.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2018

Do you know how to check for bedbugs? Sounds like you do but... ?

Also living in NY (the city too) you need to ensure that you are well educated about ticks. Please.

I grew up an hour or so north of Manhattan in an idyllic rural area now populated with fancy people... ticks are so bad but - property values... it’s sick. I bought full body suits to move my things -so sad and creepy. My mom nearly died from multiple tick-borne issues (mice are the main hosts that transmit to humans. Everyone on our road has been effected. One bedridden for the rest of her life. One needs a walker. Ticks carry several diseases now. More than Ehlichiosis, Babesiosis and Lyme -all devasting my mom. Multiple heart attacks. Cardiologist *finally* agreed that ticks were the cause.

Please do not ef around. Educate yourself and those around you. Also the bullseye rash thing? Please. I was bitten on my scalp. Never got treated because that’s all they looked for back then. I have many “mystery” health issues, like my mother.

Don’t mean to scare you but I would never live in NY because it’s that bad. Just please be careful.
posted by misondre at 3:22 AM on October 19, 2018

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