What's bugging my laptop?
July 8, 2008 7:57 PM   Subscribe

My 15" MacBook Pro is buggy. Literally. Every time I turn it on, one or two very small insects crawl out. So, there are two questions here: what are these bugs, and how do I get rid of them? (pic enclosed)

The bugs are tiny. I would guess in the 0.5 to 1mm range. I managed to get a picture of one of the bigger buggers (pic1, pic2). As you can see, that one was about as long as the width of the "F" in "F2." Most of them are smaller. Some are much smaller and lighter in color (larval, I assume). They all move pretty fast given their size. They have a soft shell and squish easily.

The bugs appear to be mainly located in the hinge / system fan / upper keyboard area.

The previous question about roaches in a laptop wasn't a whole lot of help. And these clearly aren't roaches.

(no "debug mode" jokes please)
posted by meta_eli to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I think (and pray) they are too small to be bed bugs. Ticks are my best guess.
posted by meta_eli at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2008

You could ask at What's That Bug if you don't get an answer here.
posted by iconomy at 8:15 PM on July 8, 2008

Response by poster: Just emailed WTB before posting here :)

Will post if I get an answer, but I know those guys are swamped.
posted by meta_eli at 8:17 PM on July 8, 2008

erm...they look like baby cockroaches to me. I hope that I am wrong, but man it is NEVER good when you got critters in your machine. NEVER.
posted by jadepearl at 8:19 PM on July 8, 2008

Hey, they look very much like the mites on this page - scroll down to the letter from Andrea & Jon. A few others on that page mention mites in their computers.
posted by iconomy at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2008

They really do look like the tiny, immature roaches we sometimes get around here (TX).
Considering you're in DC (though it could be any human inhabited place), I imagine it might be them all the same.
I'd love to see a better picture.
posted by Seamus at 8:24 PM on July 8, 2008

I'm no bug expert, but mustn't they be hatching in the computer? I mean, they're quite small, and you only see them coming out. I wonder what what happened if you sprayed some compressed air into your computer . . . maybe there was just one big adult bug in there who laid a bunch of eggs and they've just recently hatched?

Do you used your computer outdoors or near any household plants?
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:30 PM on July 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, iconomy. I dunno how I missed that. Also on the same page, see the "clover mites" Barry OConnor found in a monitor. His picture is even worse than mine, but the size/description really fits.

My neighborhood in DC has plenty of those enormous German cockroaches brazenly walking the sidewalk, but I don't think that's what this is. These guys are all tiny. And I saw one or two a month ago on the screen (and didn't think much of it). If they were cockroaches, shouldn't I have noticed cockroach-looking things in the vicinity of my desk by now? Or at least a single bug bigger than 1mm?

I'll aim for better photos, but it's not easy. I've only got a point-n-shoot and the bugs are small and fast. Next one I see, I'll try to catch in a jar or something.
posted by meta_eli at 8:42 PM on July 8, 2008

Heh. I had one of those tiny mites or something crawl between my LCD and the backlight of my MBP 15". My house is full of them -- I need to remember to grab some triazicide next time I'm at Home Depot and dust the yard again. I switched treatments this year and apparently the new stuff doesn't kill *everything* like the old stuff did.

South Texas here as well, and I like my beef natural and my bugs dead.
posted by SpecialK at 9:11 PM on July 8, 2008

Cockroach hatchlings, for sure. Offspring of the large critters you see outdoors.
posted by Duke999R at 3:01 AM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: I still think they're way too small to be cockroaches. German cockroach eggs are at least 5x the size of these guys.
posted by meta_eli at 5:45 AM on July 9, 2008

Clover mites aren't very fast, and they're BRIGHT red.

They look like baby roaches to me, sorry.
posted by desuetude at 6:44 AM on July 9, 2008

I think they look like mites as well. Have you checked the area(s) where you typically use your laptop for evidence of them there as well?
posted by PossumCupCake at 7:27 AM on July 9, 2008

To get rid of them with the least possible toxic consequences to you, buy a can of silica gel desiccant, put it in a double thickness of pillowcase (to keep silica gel dust out of your computer) and wrap the the desiccant and computer up tightly in an absolutely airtight thick plastic bag (trash compacter, say-- not a ziploc) for a couple of days.
posted by jamjam at 8:52 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Turn off your laptop, remove the battery, put it in the freezer for 24 hours.

Let it warm back up to room temperature before you turn it on again. You might want to spray some canned air in there before the dead bugs thaw if there are a lot of the little buggers.
posted by yohko at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Possum- I looked and didn't see any in the desk or area around the laptop. But also keep in mind that they're really hard to see. I'll check more closely later today.

Good point, desuetude. They ain't Clover mites. However some type of Bird Mites are sounding more and more likely. Bonus fact: my laptop sites on a desk right next to a window. On the other side of that window is an alley that pigeons like to hang out in. I'm sure there's a nest up there somewhere.
posted by meta_eli at 9:36 AM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Yup, sorry cockroach fans.

It's almost certainly bird mites. I captured one on a clear piece of tape. And they're almost certainly coming in this window. I lack the skills to photograph it well, but it's a spot-on match for Ornithonyssus bursa.
posted by meta_eli at 7:33 PM on July 9, 2008

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