You've seen some black bugs roaming in your house, but you can't quite figure out what they are. Don't fret! This guide will help you identify these bugs and understand what attracts them to your home.
What are those small black bugs scurrying around your home? While they may look alike, there are actually many different types of small black bugs. From ants and beetles to spiders and ticks, these insects come in various shapes and sizes. How can you try and get rid of them if you can't identify them in the first place?
Don't let these tiny black bugs bug you anymore! This guide will help you identify the most common types of black bugs. It also includes the best way to get rid of them and prevent an infestation in your home.
Common Small Black Bugs
Here are the most common small black bugs that you might find in your home:
Scientific name: Cimex lectularius
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. Bed bugs are about 5 to 7 mm (0.20" to 0.27") long and have a flat, oval-shaped body. They have six legs and two antennae, and there's one relief: they can't fly - but can crawl rapidly. With flattened bodies, these bugs lurk in dark crevices and usually come out at night to feed. Although they don't spread any diseases and their bites are not lethal, they can leave you with itchy, red welts.
Bed bugs are often found in mattresses, bed frames, and headboards, but they can also be found in other furniture such as chairs, sofas, and dressers. These insects are often brought into homes on clothing or in luggage. Once they are in your home, they can quickly multiply and become a serious problem.
Method to get rid of them: The best way to avoid a bed bug infestation is to avoid bringing them into your home in the first place. However, if you find an infestation, get rid of it with steam cleaning, vacuum, or washing your bedding and clothing in hot water. You will need to resort to professional help if it's a severe case.
Scientific name: Siphonaptera
Coming from the order Siphonaptera, fleas are small, dark insects known to transmit diseases to humans and animals. Their bodies are covered with hard plates and have a brown to black, oval-shaped body and they often feed on humans and animals. These tiny insects are so small that they are difficult to spot. They have six legs, and their bodies are flattened from side to side, which allows them to move quickly and easily.
They are about 2 to 3 mm (0.08" to 0.12") long and are often found in homes with pets, as they tend to live on them. However, they can also be found in homes without pets. They are often brought into homes with clothing, dogs, cats, or an infected person. These insects can be mistaken for bed bugs, but some key differences exist. Bed bugs have a reddish-brown color, are larger, do not have wings, and don't transmit diseases.
Method to get rid of them: To get rid of fleas, the best options are to steam clean or vacuum your carpets and upholstered furniture. You should also wash all bedding, clothing, and towels in hot water. If you have a pet, you'll need to treat them with a flea collar or shampoo.
Scientific name: Chilopoda
Centipedes are long, thin insects with dark brown, segmented bodies and many legs. It may vary as per the species; the number of their legs varies between 30 to 382. Their size also varies, and they can grow about 1 to 30 cm (0.4" to 12"). These creeping insects are attracted to damp, dark places and are often found in basements or near toilets. Centipedes generally only come out at night to hunt for food. They are carnivorous and will eat just about anything they can catch, including other insects, spiders, and even small mammals.
While centipedes are not aggressive and will not hurt you unless provoked, their bites can be painful. However, they don't really "bite" you as they don't have mouth parts. Their forelegs appear like claws or pincers and secrete a venom that can cause swelling and irritation. If you're allergic to their venom, you may experience more severe symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
Method to get rid of them: The best way to get rid of centipedes is to eliminate the damp, dark places they're attracted to. This can be done by fixing leaks, using a dehumidifier, and ensuring that your home is well-ventilated. You can also use chemical sprays, dust, or baits to get rid of them.
Oriental Cockroach or Waterbug
Scientific name: Blatta orientalis
Another black bug that's hated for its filth is the oriental cockroach. They're also called waterbugs and are often found near water sources such as drains, sewers, and damp basements. Essentially, these are a type of cockroach, but they are larger and can't fly. The size of males is 18 to 29 mm (0.71" to 1.14") while adult females are 20 to 27 mm (0.79" to 1.06"). You can identify the females by their reduced non-functional wings below their heads.
Other than that, they have two antennae, six legs, and a glossy black body that helps them lurk in the dark. Apart from the fact that they spread filth and contaminate food, they are most despised because they carry diseases.
These pests can cause dysentery, diarrhea, and food poisoning, and are also known to trigger asthma attacks in children. Waterbugs prefer dark, moist, warm, and high-humidity places. You can find them in sewers, damp cellars, and dark basements. They also invade homes through cracks and crevices in the foundation.
Method to get rid of them: Oriental cockroaches are difficult to eliminate because they reproduce quickly. The priority is always to prevent them from entering your home. For that, you must keep your house clean and dry, caulk any cracks or holes in the foundation, and repair leaky pipes and fixtures. You can try diatomaceous earth, boric acid, or insecticides if they've already infested your home. You can also set roach traps to get rid of them.
Black Carpet Beetle
Scientific name: Attagenus unicolor
Black carpet beetles are the most common type of small black bug found in homes. They are attracted to light and often enter through open doors or windows. These pests are about 3 to 5 mm (0.12" to 0.20") long and oval-shaped. They have a dark brown or black hard shell covering, six legs, four wings, and two long antennae. Since the adults have wings, they are often found flying around or crawling on walls and ceilings.
Carpet beetles feed on different items, including animal hair, felt, lint, and feathers. They will also eat plant materials like cotton, linen, and silk. They can be a nuisance in homes since they often contaminate food and cause damage to clothing and carpets. If you have carpet beetles in your home, you may find small piles of black dust beneath infested items.
Method to get rid of them: To get rid of carpet beetles, you'll need to vacuum infested areas and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. You should also wash or dry-clean infested clothing and other items.
Black Vine Weevils
Scientific name: Otiorhynchus sulcatus
Black vine weevils are another common tiny black bug found in gardens. These tiny, slender beetles have a long snout, and their body color can range from dark-reddish brown to black. They are about 6 to 8 mm (0.24" to 0.31") long and have a hard shell. They are often found in stored grains, cereals, and flour. Plus, they can also be found in foodstuffs, dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate. Owing to this attribute, they are also called pantry bugs.
They have wings fused with their bodies and hence cannot fly, but they can crawl long distances. Black vine weevils feed on the leaves of many different types of plants. They are especially fond of rhododendrons, euonymus, and yews. Inside homes, they often hide in cracks, crevices, or kitchen cabinets.
Method to get rid of them: To get rid of black vine weevils, you must thoroughly clean your pantry and cabinets. Then, vacuum infested areas and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. You should also wash infested clothing and other items in hot water.
Black Widow Spider
Scientific name: Latrodectus spp.
The black widow spider is among the most venomous spiders in North America. It is easily recognizable by its shiny black body and red hourglass-shaped mark on its abdomen. Popularly known by their common names, such as the true widows, black widow spiders, and brown widow spiders, these spiders are shy and reclusive by nature and only bite when they feel threatened or disturbed. Their average size ranges between 3 to 10 mm (0.12" to 0.39"); however, some females grow larger reaching about 13 mm (0.51") size. They lurk in dark areas, and it's hard to spot them; usually, their presence is noticed by their distinctive haphazard web.
The web of a black widow spider is irregular, with no specific shape or pattern. It's usually found near the ground in dry, sheltered areas such as wood piles, crawl spaces, and basements. These spiders are most active at night, and their bites can be painful and dangerous. They inject a neurotoxic venom that can cause muscle cramps, nausea, and paralysis. Their bite can sometimes be fatal to small children and animals.
Method to get rid of them: These are venomous spiders, and it's crucial to get rid of them as soon as possible. The ideal way to go about them is to use a vacuum with a hose attachment to suck them up. You can also use an insecticide to get rid of them.
Scientific name: Bradysia spp.
Fungus gnats are small, dark-colored insects often found near potted plants. They are about 3 to 6 mm (0.1" to 0.23") long with slender bodies and long legs and a pair of antennae. The wings of a fungus gnat are clear, with a dark stripe running down the middle. These pests are attracted to damp soil and organic matter. When they're not flying, they can often be found crawling on the soil's surface.
Fungus gnats are actually more of a nuisance than a threat but can damage plant roots and leaves. They are also known to spread plant diseases such as root rot. The larvae of these insects are particularly harmful as they feed on plant roots. They are often mistaken for drain flies because of their similarities. Fungus gnats are annoying flies that are difficult to get rid of.
Method to get rid of them: The best way to get rid of fungus gnats is to protect your houseplants. This can be done by covering the soil with a layer of sand, keeping the roots dry, and not overwatering your plants. You can also use chemical sprays, traps, or baits to get rid of them.
Black Garden Ant
Scientific name: Lasius niger
We all know ants are small, hard-working insects living in colonies. As the name implies, they are usually found in gardens but can be a nuisance when they invade our homes. The size of these ants varies as queens can be about 8 to 9 mm (0.31" to 0.35") long, the workers are about 3.4 to 5 mm (0.13" to 0.19") and the males range between 3.5 to 4.7 mm (0.13" to 0.18").
Black garden ants are not known to carry any diseases, but their bites can be painful and cause swelling. These insects are often mistaken for carpenter ants, but there are some key differences. Carpenter ants are much larger and can cause damage to your home as they build their nests. Plus, carpenter ants can bite you, but it's a rarity. Black garden ants are one of the most common ant types and can be a pain to keep away.
Method to get rid of them: If you have a small ant problem, you can try to get rid of them with a store-bought ant killer. The ideal way to go about it is to seal the cracks and crevices they use to get into your home. You will need professional help if you have a more serious problem.
Scientific name: Anthocoridae
Hailing from the Hemiptera order, pirate bugs are small, black and white insects often found in gardens. There are over 500 to 600 different species of pirate bugs. They have soft elongated bodies with two pairs of wings and two antennae. Categorized as true bugs, pirate bugs have black and white patterns and are about 1.5 – 5 mm 0.06" to 0.2" long. These pests are predators and are known to feed on other small insects such as aphids, thrips, and mites. They are beneficial to gardeners as they help to control pest populations.
Pirate bugs are attracted to flowers and are also called flower bugs. They are active during the day and hide at night. These pests have piercing and sucking mouthparts used for feeding or injecting prey. Although they are suitable for natural pest control, they can bite you and leave a red, itchy welt. These bites are not lethal, but they can cause the skin to swell like a mosquito bite. The chances of pirate bug infestation are low, but it's essential to be aware of them.
Method to get rid of them: The ideal way to get rid of pirate bugs is to attract natural predators such as ladybugs. You can also use chemical sprays, traps, or bait to take care of them.
Scientific name: Ixodes scapularis
The black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, is a small arachnid often found in wooded areas. This tick is about the size of a poppy seed and can be black, brown, or red. With eight legs and a hard outer shell, these ticks are about 3 mm (0.11") long. The deer tick gets its name because it is often found on deer, hosting them. However, it can also be found on other animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and even humans.
They have mouthparts that resemble a harpoon and are used to pierce the skin so that they can feed on blood. The deer tick is known to carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause several health problems, such as fever, headache, and fatigue. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but it's crucial to catch it early. The deer tick is most active during the spring and summer months.
Method to get rid of them: The best way to prevent deer ticks is to avoid wooded areas where they're commonly found. If you spot a tick infestation, it's best to call an exterminator.
Scientific name: Armadillidiidae
Pillbugs are also known as rollie pollies or woodlice. These pests belong to the Isopoda class and are often confused for insects - Pillbugs are actually crustaceans related to shrimp, crabs, and lobsters. These are tiny gray-black bugs with a segmented black oval body, and have seven pairs of legs and two pairs of antennae. Recognized by their armor-like shell, pillbugs are about 8.5 to 18 mm (0.33" to 0.70") long. Due to their hard shell, they are also called, potato bugs, cheeselogs, and slaters.
One factor distinguishing them from insects is that they can roll into a ball when disturbed or threatened. They prefer cool, damp, and dark places such as basements, crawl spaces, and gardens. These pests are also known to feast on plants and vegetables. However, some species of pillbugs are known to be predators and can feed on other insects.
They can take metals like zinc, copper, and lead and crystallize them into spherical deposits. These bugs act as decomposers and contribute to the environment. They're harmless to people and animals but can be a nuisance because they often invade homes in large numbers.
Method to get rid of them: Start with removing traces of excess moisture from your home, as these pests are attracted to damp places. Then sealing the gaps and cracks is another preventive measure you can take. If pillbugs have infested your house, use insecticides and baits to get rid of them.
We've covered the common small black bugs with their characteristics and identification guide. Now, let's review the signs to look for if any of the bugs mentioned above have infested your home.
Signs of a Small Bug Infestation
Different bugs leave varied signs of infestation; however, some common signs can inform you about a small black bug infestation:
Bugs Crawling: The most obvious clue is the presence of bugs crawling in your home. You may see adult bugs or nymphs (baby bugs) roaming around, especially in dark and moist areas.
Bug Bites: Another common sign of a small black bug infestation is the presence of bites on your skin. These bites are usually itchy and can cause irritation. If you are experiencing mysterious bug bites, it is hinting towards an infestation, most probably bed bugs.
Stains or Droppings: Bugs often leave behind stains or droppings wherever they go. You likely have a small black bug infestation if you see tiny black stains on your bed sheets, pillowcases, or clothing.
Unusual Odor: Most bugs emit an unpleasant odor, especially when they are present in large numbers. If you notice an unusual and musty smell in your home, it could be due to a small black bug infestation.
Eggs: Bugs If you see small black eggs in your home, it is a sure sign of an infestation. These eggs are often found in cracks and crevices and are usually hard to spot. It's best if it's dealt with in this stage to prevent further infestation.
Molts or Skin: Many bugs undergo a molting process, during which they shed their skin. If you see small pieces of skin or dust in your home, it is likely that bugs are living there.
Ways to Prevent Infestation
It's always better to take preventive measures to avoid an infestation in the first place. Some of the ways you can do this are:
Keep your home clean and tidy: A clean and clutter-free environment is less inviting for bugs. Make sure to vacuum and dust regularly, especially in areas where bugs are likely to hide, such as under furniture and crevices.
Seal cracks and openings: Bugs can enter your home through the smallest openings. Inspect your home for cracks and seal them immediately.
Repair Leaks: Bugs are attracted to moisture. Repair any leaks in your plumbing and keep an eye out for damp areas in your home. These are ideal breeding grounds for bugs.
Keep food stored properly: Bugs are attracted to food, so it's important to store food properly in airtight containers.
Use a bug spray: A good quality bug spray can help keep bugs at bay. Make sure to use it regularly, especially when bugs are most active in summer.
So, these were some of the common small black bugs that might be infesting your home, along with the signs to look out for. If you think your home is infested, don't delay and take action immediately. Prevention is always better than cure, so take the necessary measures to avoid an infestation.
Small black bugs can be a nuisance in your home. But with this guide, you will be able to identify them and get rid of them quickly. Just remember to take preventive measures to avoid an infestation in the first place.