Our home is a sacred place. After all, it is there that we relax and unwind after a long day at work. It is a place where we can be who we truly are with no pretence or social restrictions weighing us down. So we take care of our place, and we don’t invite just anyone into our little space.
Or so we think. Turns out, our houses are inhabited with hundreds of uninvited “guests” (i.e. bugs). Some of these unwanted visitors are part of a complex ecosystem that relies on nail clippings and crumbs for food. Others are bugs that thrive outside but have wandered in accidentally and can no longer leave. Now they are scuttling about on carpets and floorboards or hiding until nighttime in kitchen cupboards and behind shelves. They don’t want you to see them just as much as you don’t want to see them.
Below we have a list of fifteen creepy bugs that you might be sharing your house with. Some of them are so microscopic they are invisible to the naked eye. And thankfully so, because frankly, they are too terrifying to look at. Others are not microscopic but due to their habits, are barely ever seen by homeowners. They might emerge only at night time or they might live in places that are not easily accessible to humans, such as shower drains or other nooks and crannies around the house. Others might only be around if you keep pets or plants. But rest assured, you definitely have at least a few “roommates” sharing your space with you.
Bedbugs are small, brown insects that thrive on animal and human blood. They pierce their victim’s skin and withdraw blood through an elongated beak. After a bloody feast, which could last anywhere between three to ten minutes, their bodies swell up and turn reddish. They then crawl away unnoticed since they usually bite people at night time when they are asleep.
The good news is that few houses actually have bedbugs. But you have to be careful because they can invade your space quickly. You can bring bedbugs to your house through luggage, clothing, used beds and sofas, and various other items. Because their bodies are extremely flat, they can fit into tiny spaces and they tend to live in groups in various hiding places. But their favorite hiding places are no doubt mattresses, bed frames and headboards because they allow easy access to their sleeping victims. Their bites are painless but may eventually turn into itchy bumps.
14. Dust mites
Another bug that loves your bed is a dust mite. Millions of them live on our pillows, feasting on our dead skin and hair. They’re microscopic and mostly harmless but can cause allergic reactions in some people. But it is not the mites themselves that cause these allergies, it is their excrement. In fact, it has been found that between 18% and 30% of Americans are allergic to dust mites’ excrement and those that are not allergic can develop sensitivities that will lead to such allergies.
Dust mites are too small to be visible to the naked eye. But if you look at them under the microscope you will notice that they are creamy white in color, have eight hairy legs and no eyes. They look weird and macabre, so it’s all for the better that we can’t actually see them scuttling around.
While beds are their primary residence (every used mattress will have between 100,000 and 10 million mites inside it) due to their warmth and moistness, dust mites also reside in carpets, household upholstery and even children’s toys.
13. Book Lice
Book lice are little creatures that share most of our homes. Despite their name, they are not actually lice even though they do resemble lice in both size and shape. Book lice are less than 1/16 of an inch long and their color varies from translucent white to grey or brown. Luckily, they do not bite humans. And they don’t feed on dead human skin cells either. Instead, they feed on fungi and mold. Thus, they can be found hiding in foods that support mold growth, such as grains and cereals, as well as under wallpaper, in furniture, and along the sides of windows. It is also thought that they eat microscopic mold that grows on the glue of book-bindings and on damp cardboard. All in all, book lice are probably the cutest insects you share your house with.
12. Flour Or Grain Mites
Flour mites, or grain mites, are tiny insects whose bodies can be pale, pearly or greyish white. Their legs, however, are a completely different color from their body and can vary from pale yellow to reddish-brown. Plus, to make things just a little bit creepier, each leg has one claw attached to it. Male grain mites are between 0.013 to 0.017 inches long whereas the females are usually between 0.014 and 0.026 inches long. They infect foods such as cereals, cheese, corn, and dried fruit. When severely infected, the food often acquires a brownish tinge over it, which is called “mite dust”. As a result of this “mite dust”, food starts smelling sickly sweet and becomes quite inedible. So if your food suddenly tastes weird, it could be that you’re munching on some “mite dust”.
11. Carpet Beetle
Carpet beetles can be found in most homes, as well as in bird and wasp nests. If they choose a house or an apartment as their residence, they will most likely stay in attics, on closet doors, along baseboards, in heating ducts, inside wall voids and in furniture and home appliances. Adult carpet beetles feed on flower pollen and do no harm. It is the worm-like larvae that do all the damage around the house; they feed on and thus damage, blankets, clothes and furniture. The larvae also feed on animal hair, dead insects, plant seeds, feathers, pet food, chocolate, and spices, among other things. The larvae are light brown, hairy, worm-like tiny baby carpet beetles. They move slowly and are 1/5 inch or less in length. While their damage around the house may be minor, they are particularly feared in natural history museums due to their tendency to destroy unprotected insect collections, wall hangings and even taxidermy mounts.
10. Gall Midges
Gall midges are found practically in all homes. They are tiny, delicate flies that look like miniature mosquitoes. Their size varies but most gall midges are less than an inch long. Gall midges can usually be found on or near plants, so plant lovers should have plenty of these little creatures buzzing around their house. They’re known to have a long, beaded antennae and hairy wings.
The larvae of gall midges is brightly colored and tends to live in leaves and flowers. They suck plant juices and cause plants to develop tumors called “galls”. There are many different species of gall midges and each species feeds a little differently. Some gall midges, for example, like to eat fungi or decaying organic matter while others like to feast on small, soft-bodied insects.
Silverfish is a small, wingless insect whose rather unusual name derives from its silvery light grey and blue color as well as its fish like movement. They are usually between half an inch and one inch long and are wingless, but not helpless; silverfish can outrun most of its predators, including centipedes, albeit only on horizontal surfaces.
They avoid light at all costs and perhaps because of this they have a deep love for the cupboard under the sink, as well as the cupboards in the bathroom. They look quite scary so it is a relief that they do not use humans as a source of sustenance. Instead, they eat book glue, paper, sugar, hair, dandruff and carpet. You are unlikely to spot silverfish around your house because they are nocturnal creatures.
Interestingly, silverfish perform little love dances as part of their mating process. These “dances” are made up of three parts. During the first part, the male and the female stand face-to-face, their antennae touching. They then back off and return to the position again. During the second part, the male runs away, and the female chases it. And during the third part, they stand side-by-side and the male vibrates his tail against the female. This rather unique “love dance” ends with the male laying a spermatophore which the female takes into her body.
8. Mold Mites
If you have mold in your home, you also have mold mites. As their name suggests, mold mites are mites that feed on mold. They are white or tan in color and look extremely creepy. Even though they’re common, they often go unnoticed unless a great number of them infect the moldy area of your house. They can also infest stored food and grain, causing much nuisance.
Mold mites don’t bite or cause any visible damage. But they have long hairs growing from them, called setae, which when broken off can become airborne and cause an allergic reaction in some people. Dust mites, which are notorious for causing allergic reactions, are actually closely related to mold mites. Not only are mold mites common at home, they can also be found in food warehouses and food processing plants.
7. Cat Flea
Cat fleas are insects that are a quarter of an inch long. Their color varies from dark brown to black, and while they do not fly they have strong hind legs which they use for jumping. Their mouthparts are designed in such a way that allows them to pierce the skin of their victim and suck blood. As their name suggests, cat fleas often choose cats as their victims. However, they are also common in dogs and outdoor animals such as foxes.
As one can imagine, cat fleas are particularly common in the homes of pet owners. But you don’t have to own a pet to have cat fleas in your home! Cat fleas may already reside on your property (thanks to infected outdoor animals) or may be brought inside your home from an outside source. Sometimes, a wild animal may occupy your chimney and this too may result in cat fleas in the house. Once the female adult cat flea lays her eggs on an animal, the eggs fall on locations such as carpets, pet bedding behind or under the furniture and inside cracks in the floor. Cat flea larvae do not consume blood, but rather any organic debris that is available. When the larvae develop into adult fleas, they immediately jump onto a victim that will become their “blood donor”.
There exist over forty species of termites in the United States alone. Each species differs a little, but they do have similar characteristics. Most of them are between a quarter and a half an inch long and have soft bodies that range in color from white to light brown. Worker termites are usually lighter whereas swarming termites are darker.
Termites have been dubbed as the “silent destroyer” — they can thrive in your home or yard for long periods of time without being noticed. Termites live on cellulose, an organic fiber that is found in wood and plant matter but they do not shy away from paper, plastic and drywall either. Termites are a constant threat to your home, especially because they can cause costly damage to your property.
5. Plaster Beetles
Plaster beetles are tiny insects. Their color ranges from yellowish brown to reddish brown. Although sometimes they can appear almost completely black. Their curious name comes from the time when many homes had plaster walls. As the plaster would be drying, mold would often grow inside the walls or under the wallpaper. This mold attracts plaster beetles since they thrive on mold and fungus. They absolutely love dampness and high humidity so their favorite spots to hang out in at home are damp basements and attics, as well as moist crawl spaces such as under baseboards. They might decide to seek shelter in your home after heavy rain. If you have leaks and plumbing fixtures such as bath traps, you can count on sharing your home with plaster beetles. The only way to notice them, however, is to actually see them but beware – identifying them without some sort of magnification tool is nearly impossible.
4. Golden Spider Beetle
Niptus hololeucus, also known as the golden spider beetle, is a species of beetle that lives on cayenne pepper and has even been observed thriving in cork stoppers on top of bottles of cyanide. The pest can live on almost anything and when it appears in the house the source of infestation could be as unusual as dead birds in a birds nest in the roof space. If the golden spider beetle can’t get to cayenne pepper, it will settle for wool, linen and natural silks, especially if these fabrics are soiled with grease.
The golden spider beetle is between 0.1 and 0.2 inches long and has a body that is completely covered with silky gold hairs and fine scales. They hate light but scuttle around impressively in the dark.
3. Drain Fly
Drain flies, also known as sink flies or sewer gnats, are flies that are between 0.05 to 0.1 inches long. They have a light grey or tan body and lighter colored wings. The body and wings of a drain fly are completely covered with long hairs that give the fly a fuzzy appearance. As their name suggests, drain flies spend most of their time within the depths of your shower or sink drain. That’s rather unusual but makes a bit more sense when you realize that they feed on and lay their eggs in the decomposing organic material that lines your clogged drains. Drain fly adults often emerge from the drains and reside on bathroom, kitchen or basement walls, especially at night time. This is really the only time you might notice them. Drain fly eggs and larvae are never seen by homeowners unless the drains are taken apart.
2. Wheat Weevil
Wheat weevils, or grain weevils, are dark brown pests that have been infesting grain since ancient times. It is not the strongest of pests. In fact, it can only thrive alongside humans, and more specifically, only in places where it has access to grains. If placed outside, wheat weevils perish quickly. So if they don’t invade your house from outside, where do they come from? Short answer: you bring them home with you from the store when you purchase a bag of flour, or other wheat products. Long answer: a female weevil lays an egg inside a grain kernel. As the egg hatches, the larvae will spend from one to five months living and feeding off the kernel. As the larvae turn into adult weevils, they emerge from the kernel in search of mating partners. Isn’t it a bit discomforting to think that all of this might be going on in your cupboard right now?
Aphids, also known as plant lice, are small insects that suck sap. Most aphids are green in color but depending on their species, may also be white and woolly, brown or black. They are incredibly destructive insects that cause much damage to plants and as a result are incredibly hated by farmers and gardeners all over the world.
Believe it or not, aphids infest your home during the Christmas period. But only if you buy a real Christmas tree! That’s because Christmas trees, such as spruce, fir and pine trees, are prone to bug infestations. So next time you’re purchasing your Christmas tree, make sure you shake it well before you bring it home. Otherwise, you might end up having some unexpected guests over for Christmas.