What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Biting Bugs
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
August 8, 2012 12:38 pm
I live in Iowa and I was just outside(it rained earlier today) and I kept feeling little bites all over my hands and arms. At first I couldn’t see anything but if I looked very close I saw a TINY, no bigger than a dot of a pen, orange bug possibly a little blackish brown on it’s bottom with 6(?)legs crawling on me. And there wasn’t just one, they were everywhere and they all were bitting me. I didn’t sit in the grass or touch anything so I have no idea how they got on me or if they even came from the outside. Help!
Signature: Melissa

Possibly Thrips

Hi Melissa,
Based on your detailed description, we believe you might have had an encounter with insects from the order Thysanoptera, commonly called Thrips.  There is not enough detail in your photograph for any definitive identification, but the photograph does support our supposition.  According to BugGuide, Thrips are small:  “0.5-14 mm (typically 1-2 mm, NA species under 5 mm)” and they are described as:  “Some are wingless; where present, the wings are narrow with few or no veins and fringed with long hairs. Mouthparts asymmetrical (no right mandible), suitable for piercing and sucking. Antennae relatively short, 4- to 9-segmented; tarsi 1-2-segmented, with 1-2 claws and are bladder-like at the end.”  This is the BugGuide statement that supports our identification:  “Thrips can often be found on flowers, they are especially visible on light colored flowers like daisies. Be aware that though they are very tiny, they can give a slightly painful bite.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Iowa

22 Responses to Small Biting Insect might be Thrips

  1. Tonya says:

    Yes these are the thrips larvae and boy do they hurt! They are attracted to light/bright colored clothing. I was attacked by these little boogers tonight at my son’s baseball game. I’m the team mom and was in charge of taking care of both team’s scores/runs/outs etc, and I was being attacked by them. Trying to swat these things and pay attention to the game was extremely difficult! LOL
    It is almost 5am now, and I have been up all night trying to figure out what these things were.

    In my research, I have found that:
    1.) Peppermint/spearmint type of oils are a deterrent for these bugs. (At least it smells good!)
    2.) Off or other sprays AREN’T effective and seem to attract them. (Stuff stinks anyway LOL)
    3.) They are attracted to light/bright colored clothing (Great…I’m a girl and love light/bright colors)
    4.) Often are found near weeds, bright colored flowers, and wood (Ughh)
    5.) If they are near your home, they can get through your screens and invade your home. (ACKKK!!!)
    6.) Lady Bugs don’t like them and kill/eat them (Lady Bugs are cool anyway!)
    7.) Often found on the underside of leaves in your garden…and if found you can spray a heavy stream of your water hose for several straight minutes to get them off (drown them boogers!)

    That’s what I’ve learned so far in the past 12 hours of research…other than the fact that I am tired!!!
    Hope this helps!

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for all the helpful information. It is easy to see how twelve hours of time can be consumed doing internet research, but if we did that with each request, we would only be able to post a few inquiries per week, so our editorial staff is very grateful for your dedication as well as your thoughtfulness in reporting your findings.

    • Donna says:

      What I have been dealing with is after a rain if I go outside no matter what I wear I have been getting bit like crazy but not my husband,so I went out and let them bite me so that I could prove it to him.
      I brought out a piece of tape with me and caught some to tape on white paper,I got a magnifying glass To prove I was getting ate up.
      They were a tiny orange dot size bug and I could see they would crawl through my clothing to get to my skin to bite me,I shook my hair over the paper and they were even in my hair but they have never bitten my head….it is crazy…what is it,I threw the paper away ?….

  2. Tonya says:

    No problem =) I know I was miserable, and figured someone else probably needed the same advice that I found. I’m a sufferer of insomnia so this just helped me pass the time till I got tired.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for posting this information! These little buggers are all OVER the frame of our above ground pool. So so so so gross ლ(ಠ益ಠ)ლ I know ya’ll are anti-extermination but …I’d really rather these things go away!…or at least back to my plants! Why can’t they at least leave me the pool? (ಠ_ಠ)

    • Tonya says:

      We have a little baby pool, and the darn bugs had ran the kids out of it too! Since you have an above ground pool, maybe you could plant some peppermint around it to deter the bugs? Just a thought! Hope this helps Hon!

      • Jennifer says:

        Peppermint? I hadn’t thought of that but YES I will definitely give it a go! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂 We are also in the process of buying mosquito grass to plant around the pool too… Anyone here happen to know if lemon grass works best? Or citronella? Thanks again!!!

  4. Tonya says:

    I haven’t heard of those working, but I do know that the Off sprays (and Deep Woods, can’t remember the names of the other ones I’ve tried) only attract them. (Learned that one the hard way! )

    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve been googling my brains out ever since my mother suggested “mosquito grass”. She says it repels mosquitos. The info I’ve found says it gives off some kind of scent that the mosquitos hate. I’ve found Citronella, horsemint, marigolds, ageratum, catnip, basil and catmint. Supposedly, these are mosquito repelling plants. I still haven’t found anything actually called “mosquito grass”. I’m starting to think that might just be the general term for any type of grass that repels them. It won’t do anything for those little buggers crawling all over the pool… but I’ll throw in some peppermint plants for that! 🙂

  5. Britttaney says:

    Peppermint spray does work. I have been using EcoSmart. You can find it at Wal-Mart. It’s Awesome, cheap and deet free. It saved my summer. =)

  6. The WonderPersonOfBugs says:

    Thank you guys for asking all the questions I had as well… I work at a facility and they are in the cracks of the wall & floor… they do die right away when killing them… I usually can get a lot of them when I mop up the floor… How do I get rid of them…

  7. Rita says:

    Have you found out what exactly they are? I think I have the same bug in my yard and they are driving me crazy and can’t figure out what they are!!!!!

  8. Mama L says:

    I have a bite from what I think is from this Thrip bug. Got it yesterday, doesn’t itch but burns constantly. It continues to swell and benadryl hasn’t eased the site. Any suggestions for treatment from the bite? It’s red and warm to the touch, swolen, and again, continues to swell.

    • bugman says:

      We are not qualified to dispense medical advice.

    • quizquest says:

      I’m not qualified to dispense medical info either, but I have many many tiny itchy bumps after a swarm of these things took over my yard. I must be sensitive more than most, bc the rash seems to develop over a couple of days. I *did* go to the doctor yesterday, and it’s not a definitive diagnosis, but I’m using a prednisone pack (Rx only – you’ll have to see a doctor) which is a big hit over 4 days, tapering off. It’s helped but hasn’t resolved after one dose. BUT if it’s just ONE bite, you also want a doctor, bc I had lyme disease from something like that earlier this summer. It was about 4 inch diameter, swollen, but around a pinprick sized bite 🙁 Anyway, go to urgent care! (Benadryl wasn’t helping me either).

    • Chris says:

      Check kissing bug

  9. Janet Scheetz says:

    I have had a tiny black bug in my house for 9mos. They are shaped like a pin prick and also shaped like an eel. They are in overstuffed furniture and beds etc. I haven’t been able to enjoy my house for all of these mos. I don’t see them outside, only outside, I have had two exterminations, countless cans of spray and I can’t touch them. I am desperate, any help will be appreciated.

  10. Michelle says:

    I have had an allergic reaction to what I believe are these thrip… and the reaction moves throughout my body externally and yesterday felt internally…(I know sounds CRAZY trust me I know but have a picture to prove what had happened over my face) but my throat swelled up..was breathing through my nose..couldn’t swallow..lost my voice.. after 6 hours and 3 Benadryl.. has anyone else experienced this? Is it only a certain age/sex of this bug that bites? And how on earth to you get rid of them?

  11. Taylor says:

    I thought i was loosing my mind!! After reading through every one of these posts, im 100% sure this is the bug that is…. in my hair, biting my arms, legs, FACE, feet, inside my bra, and recently i have started getting bites beneath my underwear!!!!!! I MUST FIND A WAY TO GET THEM OFF!! NOW!! im jumping into a really hot shower in hopes of drowning or scorching every last one of them!!!!!!!!! thank yall for your research and sharing. I was hoping someone had an answer for how to get them off of your body IMMEDIATELY!!

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