From the monthly archives: "May 2004"

I have these flea-like bugs in the thousands that thrive on my outside window sills (which are rotten and soon to be replaced) but these nasty little guys have found their way into my house! And every night I have to do a mad spree of "containing" them (trust me, I don’t even pick flowers because I don’t believe in hurting living things! But these guys are smushed habitually! if they don’t jump away first!). They are found all over my blinds, on all window ledges and even on my baseboards next to the floor. They seem to like crevices. They are about the size of a flea, rather flat, and long, and jump like a flea but do not have an exoskeleton. They are grey with small antenna. They range in size from tiny almost microscopic to about the size of an adult flea maybe a tiny bit larger (the largest ones that is). Their size is rather inconsistent. They stay rather motionless until you knock where they are standing and then they all scatter and/or jump. There are thousands on the outside of my windows and i usually kill at least a hundred per night. They seem to come out more at night. They really gross me out and I even found a few on my pillow lately, as my bed backs up to a window…gross!!! My two exterminators over the last three years have no idea what they are. I live in Alabama. Do you have any idea what these could be? Any leads would be greatly appreciated. I found you through google by searching "flea like bugs that jump but are not fleas"!!! Can’t believe I got any hits from that! My biggest fear is that I replace my windows (which has to be done anyhow, they’re 65 years old) and they will still be here, cause they’re on my baseboards too! Yuck! Thanks you so much for your time and knowledge.

Hi Anna,
I’m guessing Springtails, primitive insects from the Order Collembola. They can get extremely plentiful and like damp conditions. We have a page devoted to them. Go to the left side of the homepage and click Springtails in the alphabatized list. Sorry, we don’t have extermination advice, but at least now you know what they are.

I have springtails in my swimming pool. I was hoping that after covering the pool for the season, and reopening it in the spring, they would have died over the winter. But low and behold, the swimming pool is still full of live spring tails which seem to congregate in the corners of the pool, between the water line and the tiles.
I can’t believe they survived such a harsh winter! I’m so frustrated, and last year I tried just about everything from spraying pesticides around the pool, to shocking it,,,, nothing worked. I’ve read that spraying the tiles with diluted soap ( dawn ) helps temorarily.
my question is this – do you think they will go away, if i empty the pool, acid wash it… let it dry for a while, then fill it again . spray the tiles in the interim and then fill it again.
thank you for your help.

Since Springtails seem to be a big problem with swimming pools, you might want to check with your local pool shop for erradication advice. They do not appear to be harmed by cold weather, and one type is even known by the common name of Snow Flea. They do tend to by cyclical, multiplying when conditions are favorable, and declining at other times. I don’t know if emptying your pool will help.
Its funny because I checked last year and none of the pool stores or pool
companies here in ny ever dealt with them in pools. It seems to be a new thing.

Bigger red bugs?
I live in Kansas and was just going to plant a planter in my yard. Upon pulling up an old plant from last summer, I unearthed thousands of little red bugs. At first I thought they were "baby lady bugs" but on further inspection….they have no spots and are a brighter, deeper red. It appears that the adults are about 1/4 " long and the babies are 1/8". I felt as though I had unearthed an ant den……..that’s how they scattered. Also, they have black heads and fine black legs ( hardly visible) Any ideas what they are….or if they are harmful? The planter is connected to the house. Should I be concerned? Do I need to exterminate before replanting? Thanks in advance for your help!

Hi Sheri,
I wish you had a photo. They might be Box Elder Bugs. Here is an image of an aggregation. They are difficult to erradicate.

Thank you for your response. After further investigation…… are correct they are boxedler bugs. I guess it was just a bunch of babies…..because I saw no adults…………until I checked back later. Boxelder bugs are common around here. I’m not too concerned. Anyway, thanks again!

I have recently been told I have Crane Fly Larvae. There are thousands all over Thankfully they are not eating my grass however they are all over my interlocking patio. I have three small children and aside from sweeping them up daily, what can I do to get rid of this problem? Are they harmful to my children. I know the adult crane fly does not bite but do the larvae?
With kind regards,

Dear KJE,
Crane Flies are not harmful at any stage of development. The larvae, known as Leatherbacks, eat the roots of herbaceous plants. Especially in the spring, they can get very numerous. Sorry we have no erradication advice.

Furry Red Spiders
Recently I have been doing alot of yard work and i’ve noticed that there are the strangest bright red furry little spiders or insects crawling around everywhere. They are really slow, and they are about the size of pencil eraser or a little bigger. Some of them actually look like they are outlined in white, and these tend to be a little larger. When they are threatened they curl up into a little ball and seem to like buroughing in the dirt. Can you tell me what these bugs might be? I’ve searched everywhere and havn’t found an answer.

Hi Ashley,
There is a family of mite known as Velvet Mites, Trombidiidae, and one species, the Angelito, Angelothrombium pandorae, is a giant red velvet mite that is found in desert areas. According to Hogue: "These creatures never fail to attract attention because of their large size (the body length of adults is about 1/4 to 3/8 in.) and brilliant crimson furry bodies. The larvae are parasites of grasshoppers, and the adults are predators on subterranean termites. The adults remain in the soil most of the year and spend only a few hours above ground, probably to feast on their prey, which also respond to rains by emerging in numbers. Little else is known of their biology."

Hi, Bugman. I love your site, although I’m glad I don’t have any of those bugs at my place! The one I found is bad enough. I found it in my front yard in suburban Chicago. Can you ID it?
Jerry Palm

Dear Jerry,
You have photographed a dead Caterpillar Hunter, Calosoma scrutator, one of the Ground Beetles from the family Carabidae. They are predaceous, feeding on insects and other small animals. They are especially fond of caterpillars. They help to control Gypsy Moths and Tent Caterpillars. Adults will climb trees and they can also fly, often being attracted to lights in the spring. They are beneficial and should not be killed.