What are Those Tiny White Bugs in or around Your Home?
Nobody wants to find a bug in their home, and it can be even worse when you don’t know what kind of insect it is. If you see tiny white bugs in your house, they could be any number of pests. And the type of pest largely depends on where you find it. Learn about some common white bugs and find out which ones may pose a threat to your home.
The threat of termites causes concern for almost every homeowner – and with good reason. These destructive pests cause around $5 billion in damage and repair costs in the United States each year. Certain castes of subterranean termites are white in color. Because they live underground, it’s extremely uncommon to see these termites in your home, unless they are performing mating flights (also called “swarms”) or an infestation is severe. Still, it’s important to be on the lookout. Workers are charged with feeding other termites in the colony and caring for the young. They have all white bodies. Soldiers are the colony’s defenders and usually have white bodies with orange-brown colored heads and large jaws. These pests require professional treatment. Termite swarmers (the flying termite reproductives) are actually a darker color, not white.
Because termites are hard to spot and damage can go unnoticed for long periods of time, it’s recommended to have a termite control professional inspect your home annually. Schedule your FREE termite inspection today.
There are several species of moths, but there is one in particular that is known to be pests in homes: the webbing clothes moth. Webbing clothes moths are about 3/8 of an inch long and cream colored. Their worm-like larvae are white. Clothes moth larvae feed on natural fibers, including animal hair like wool and cashmere. If these moths enter your closet, they can easily damage your clothes. To avoid damage, at-risk items should be stored in plastic coverings.
Psocids can live indoors or outdoors. Outside, they’re commonly found under the bark of trees, which has earned them the nickname “bark lice.” Inside, they can be difficult to see with the naked eye. These small insects measure about 1/25 to 1/13 of an inch in length. They prefer dark, moist places with mold, which they feed on, and they may be found in the bathroom or kitchen. Psocids may also be referred to as “book lice,” although they’re not really lice at all – they just happen to be found near books stored in damp locations. Most psocids don’t have wings, and they can’t fly. Fortunately for homeowners, they are mostly harmless and are rarely seen as pests. Some species can feed on glue in books and can destroy book bindings. And some other species are stored product pests because they feed on the glue of the packaging and reproduce in the stored product.
Most likely to be found in the kitchen, grain mites are extremely small, pearly-white or grayish-white insects. They prefer to live in conditions with high moisture and humidity. As their name implies, they feed on processed grains, as well as wheat germ, yeast, cheese, flour and cereals. These bugs may be transported into your home through packaged foods. If the conditions in your pantry are warm and humid enough, they can reproduce rapidly, with females laying up to 800 eggs in their lifetime. Grain mites are known for leaving a brownish tinge called “mite dust” on contaminated food, and since their size is so small, this is often the best sign of their existence.
If you find grain mites in your home, dispose of any contaminated food. Clean your kitchen and shelves thoroughly and ensure that all foods are sealed in airtight containers to avoid further contamination. And since grain mites need high humidity, drying an area out can help control them.
If you have several houseplants, you may be putting yourself at risk of these tiny white bugs. Mealybugs are most commonly found outdoors, where they infest perennial plants like fuchsia, gardenia and hibiscus, as well as citrus trees and grapes. These insects are very small, oval-shaped and white in color. They are known for excreting a sticky, wax-like substance. In nature, mealybugs have a number of natural predators that help control their colonies and reduce populations. Be sure to inspect any greenhouse plants before bringing them home or planting them in your garden.
These tiny white flying bugs are related to aphids and mealybugs. These insects are tiny, with the exact size depending on the species. Like mealybugs, whiteflies are known for infesting and damaging plants. They also excrete sticky honeydew and are difficult to control. Whiteflies are commonly found outside, but they can be transported into the home on infested houseplants. As with mealybugs, before purchasing any plants to bring into your home, check under leaves for these insects to help avoid infestation.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Whether you think you’re dealing with a harmless psocid or a fearsome termite, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you see insects in your home, contact a professional. The pest control professionals at Terminix® are trained to identify common home invaders and can provide specialized treatment options to help you keep your home protected from insects.