Solved! What Are the Small, Tiny Brown Bugs in My House?

Small, tiny brown bugs in the house can become a big problem if they go unidentified. Find out how to determine what insects you’re dealing with and how to get rid of them for good.

By Melissa Graham | Published Jun 9, 2022 1:26 PM

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Small, Tiny Brown Bugs

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I’ve recently spotted small, tiny brown bugs in my house. I kill them when I see them, but they keep coming back. How do I figure out what type of insect I’m seeing? Should I be worried?

A: Small, tiny brown bugs may seem harmless because of their size, but whether they’re harmless depends entirely on what type of bug you’ve spotted. Ticks, for instance, carry pathogens that can lead to disease if they come in contact with humans. Other small brown bugs, such as cockroaches, won’t sting or bite, but they will reproduce so rapidly that infestation becomes a health issue. You’ll need to get a good look at the color, size, features, and location of the bugs to figure out whether you’re dealing with a drugstore beetle, a silverfish, or something else. Whether you spot one small brown bug in your home or have a serious infestation, it’s helpful to know which type of bug you’re dealing with so you can eliminate the problem. The following tips can help you determine what kind of tiny brown bug is in your house and what steps to take next to make sure no damage is done to your food supply or property.

Drugstore beetles are often found in stored food, while carpet beetles often lurk in carpets or rugs.

Small, Tiny Brown Bugs

Photo: istockphoto.com

Drugstore beetles are tiny brown bugs that are attracted to stored products such as grains, seeds, and packaged food products. (They’re also called bread or biscuit beetles, which may be a more fitting name when considering their diet.) They can also bore into books, wooden objects, tin, or aluminum foil. They are about 2¼ to 3½ millimeters in length and are brown to reddish brown in color. Their antennae end in a tri-segmented club and their wing covers have rows of pits that give them a lined look. If you spot drugstore beetles in your pantry, you’ll want to throw out any infested food and thoroughly clean your cabinets. Pyrethroid insecticides can kill any remaining bugs, and sealing food tightly can prevent drugstore beetles from returning.

Carpet beetles, on the other hand, are oval shaped and measure about ⅛ to 1¼ inches long. These small bugs in the house are often black but can also be mottled shades of white, brown, yellow, and orange. You might find these small, tiny brown bugs in the house or bedroom, and they tend to infest carpets as well as items made of wool, fur, leather, silk, felt, and animal skins. Household items like boric acid and vinegar can be effective against treating a carpet beetle infestation; sprinkle or spray one of these substances where you see carpet beetles, then vacuum.

Silverfish are attracted to dark, moist places.

Silverfish are different from other brown household bugs because they have silver or metallic brown scales. At 12 to 19 millimeters long, they’re also longer than other tiny beetles in the house. They have six legs, two antennae, and three bristles that resemble tails at the end of their bodies. Silverfish are most often found in dark, damp places such as basements, laundry rooms, attics, and bathrooms. They tend to feed on sugar and starch from paper material like books, wallpaper, photos, and documents. They’re also more common in the fall. Although these insects don’t fly or bite, they breed quickly and can trigger allergies, so it’s important to identify and get rid of them as quickly as possible.

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Weevils are a pantry pest that will feed on grains like flour and rice.

Often called flour bugs, weevils are most easily identified by their long snouts. These insects measure ⅛- to ¼-inch long and can live up to 8 months in your whole grains and other dry food items such as nuts, beans, seeds, cereals, and corn. They range in color from black to reddish brown and can do serious damage to stored foods.

As opposed to beetles that live and feed on the food you store, weevils survive inside the food itself. Females will chew a hole inside a grain of rice or seed, lay an egg, and seal up the opening. The larvae will then feed off the kernel until it is fully grown. If they’re not controlled, weevils can grow an entire population that can ruin your food.

If you see these tiny bugs in your house, it’s best to address the issue as soon as possible. You’ll want to throw out any affected items and clean the shelves with hot, soapy water. It’s also a good idea to wipe down any containers or cans before returning them to the panty. Ensure your pantry items are tightly sealed to prevent future infestations.

Small, Tiny Brown Bugs

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cockroaches are notorious pests that start out small.

If you spot one cockroach, it may not seem like a problem. However, it’s likely more are lurking, since these hard-shell small brown bugs reproduce so quickly. These are common small brown bugs in the house and are about ¼- to ½-inch long and have six legs and two long antennae. They often emerge at night to search for food or to mate. Cockroaches can lay up to 40 eggs at a time, which is why it’s imperative to put pest control measures in place as soon as you see even one or just a few.

Ticks are dangerous bugs with the potential to spread disease.

Ticks can sometimes resemble a bed bug because of their size, but they can carry dangerous pathogens. The deer tick is the most common and smallest species of tick in the United States at about the size of a sesame seed. Deer ticks are reddish with a black dorsal shield and long, skinny mouth parts. Deer ticks are most commonly found in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and around the Great Lakes. The deer tick is notorious for its ability to transmit Lyme disease.

Dog ticks are also fairly common and are located on the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains. Lone star ticks can be found in the southeastern region of the United States and all the way up to Maine. These two species are brown and equally dangerous to humans because of their ability to infect.

Tick infestations don’t typically occur indoors, but ticks can make their way inside. It’s best to take precautions like checking yourself and your clothes after coming in from the indoors. Minimizing tall grasses and woodpiles near your home can also help keep ticks away.

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Some DIY methods can get rid of tiny brown bugs, but a pest control professional can handle the problem quickly and effectively.

There is a wide range of homemade solutions and store-bought pesticides that can treat insect infestation, but your best bet to get rid of small tiny brown bugs in the house is to contact a pest control professional. An expert in this field can not only identify which bugs you’re dealing with, but will also know how to treat them so that they’re gone for good. Whether you’ve spotted carpet beetles or cockroaches, the best pest control companies like Terminix or Orkin will know what type of solution and techniques to use to remove the bugs effectively and ensure they don’t come back.

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