What Are Those Tiny Bugs in My House — and, More Importantly, How Do I Get Rid of 'Em?
From fruit flies and ants to gnats and fleas that bite and sting, finding tiny bugs in your home is no fun at all. Whether you're waking up with itchy welts or swatting away small, winged critters circling your fruit bowl, identification is the first step in getting rid of these unwelcome house guests.
While some common small black bugs are more frustrating than harmful, others can spread germs and cause wicked bites. Here are some helpful tips to identify and eliminate small bugs in your house.
There are many types of tiny bugs that can enter your space through your plumbing system and drains, damaged window screens and even your pets. Some insects are more active during the warmer months when humidity is high, while others are busy throughout the seasons.
- Gnats: Gnats are small black bugs with wings that are attracted to moisture, decomposing food and overly ripe fruit. They're often seen circling the drain or garbage disposal, and their bites can cause itchy, painful welts. Female gnats may also carry and transmit bacteria to humans and animals.
- Fleas: Fleas are tiny, dark brown bugs with flat bodies that are almost invisible to the naked eye. Flea droppings look like small specks of dirt, and they leave these droppings when feeding. While fleas are known for their attraction to dogs, they're also found in bedding and carpeting. They lay their eggs within 24 hours of infestation, and their bites are painful and itchy. Fleas can cause skin irritation and, in some cases, transmit parasites.
- Mites: Mite is actually an umbrella term for a group of tiny bugs that include dust mites, white mites and itch mites. Mites are so small that they can't be seen, but their droppings can cause allergic symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes, and their bites can cause itching and skin rashes.
While finding tiny black bugs in the house can be alarming, the good news is that several species can be eliminated with home remedies and over-the-counter treatments. Here are some popular solutions, paired with their insect counterparts.
Applying lemon juice to known ant paths can help cover up the scent trails that these small black bugs leave behind when seeking food. Peppermint and cinnamon work in similar ways. You can apply these scents by mixing powdered cinnamon or peppermint oil with water and wiping down your cupboards, countertops and known paths with the mixture.
One easy way to eliminate fruit flies is to set up a trap that smells like rotting fruit. Place a piece of fruit inside a glass jar and add a few drops of vinegar. Use paper to create a cone, and place it in the jar with the point facing down. When the flies are drawn to the aroma of fruit and vinegar, the cone will trap them inside the jar.
To tame a gnat infestation, mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon of sugar and five drops of liquid dish soap in an open bowl. Set the bowl in a high gnat traffic area. The gnats will be drawn to the vinegar and sugar, and the sticky soap will trap them.
In addition to home remedies, you can also purchase over-the-counter pest control methods such as ant and flea traps, spray insecticides and citronella candles. Regular cleaning of your kitchen counters and cabinets can help keep areas free of food crumbs that may attract insects, while washing your bedding in hot water can also help eradicate eggs or any other gifts that tiny bugs may leave behind.
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While home remedies and over-the-counter products may work to get rid of certain types of pests and little black bugs in the house, there are times when professional help is necessary.
If you have ants that aren't responding to bait traps and other commercial methods, chances are good there's a colony somewhere. In these cases, the colonies must be eradicated to stop the critters from multiplying. Depending on the extent of the infestation, your exterminator may use gel baits or insecticide sprays for effective ant control.
Bedbugs are another type of pest that must usually be remedied through professional intervention. Like ants, bedbugs multiply quickly. The bites of these tiny black bugs can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation and even secondary skin infections in some cases. Large bedbug infestations are usually treated with heat and steam that works to kill both the live bugs and their eggs.
The bottom line? Many tiny bugs in the house can be safely evicted with the help of over-the-counter bug sprays and home treatments, such as diatomaceous earth, vinegar and even lemon juice. However, if the little pests are potentially dangerous or simply refuse to vacate, a professional exterminator is your best bet.
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