15 Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Wondering what those little white bugs that look like lint in your house are and how to get rid of them? Here’s a complete guide to 15 bugs it could possibly be.

If you own a garden or yard where you love to grow plants, you’ll have to deal with a variety of bugs and pests over the years.

One common query we come across is about tiny white insects that look like lint. Most people want to know what they are, whether they are dangerous or not, how to get rid of them, and other similar things.

Well, there are plenty of bugs that fit the description, and some of them can cause serious damage to your home garden.

Let’s check out 15 of the most common bugs of this type.

1. Wooly Aphids

Aphids are among the most common plant bugs that you might find attacking your houseplants. The wooly aphid species earns its name from its white and fuzzy “wool-like” appearance, which also makes it look very much like lint.

Less than 1/10th of an inch in size, these tiny insects feed on plant sap, leaving the plant lifeless over time. They also secrete a pale wax called honeydew. Honeydew often attracts mold growth to your plants.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Don’t worry; wooly aphids don’t bite and are perfectly harmless to humans and pets. They have needle-like mouthparts to suck the sap from plants but no teeth or stingers to bite you.

Do they spread disease?

Wooly Aphids carry several diseases that can affect various plants, including large trees like apple and balsam fir. They don’t carry human diseases.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Although wooly aphids are major plant pests, they aren’t harmful to humans and pets.

Can they get in the house?

Unfortunately, yes, wooly aphids can attack your indoor plants too. Besides hitching a ride on any infested plant you bring home, the babies of these pests are also capable of flying.

How to get rid of them?

The most effective way to get rid of wooly aphids is to prune the infected leaves and branches. You may also try drawing them using a water jet or spraying neem oil and other essential oils.

Where do they lay eggs?

Wooly aphids usually lay their eggs in branch terminals and bark crevices. Their eggs overwinter and hatch in the spring.

What are they attracted to?

These white insects can feed on pretty much any part of a plant, be it the foliage, branches, roots, or the back. Pruning wounds and other damaged areas are particularly attractive to them for both feeding and laying eggs.

2. Mealybugs

Like wooly aphids, mealybugs exist in clusters and look like tufts of cotton. These pests have a waxy coating on their bodies that helps them repel insecticides. They measure just about one-fifth of an inch.

Mealybugs feed on plant sap, and a large infestation can easily kill your plants. Their waste might also promote mold growth in plants.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Mealybugs don’t bite. They only damage your plants.

Do they spread disease?

Although mealybugs aren’t usually vectors, the ones infesting vineyards may spread the leafroll viruses. They don’t spread any known human disease.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

No, mealy bugs aren’t harmful to humans and pets.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, mealybugs are among the most common indoor plants, especially in places with warmer climates.

How to get rid of them?

You may use insecticides and soapy water to repel mealybugs. Natural predators like ladybugs and dragonflies are helpful too.

Where do they lay eggs?

Mealybugs lay egg sacs on fruits, twigs, leaves, bark, and crowns. Each sack contains 100 to 200 eggs.

What are they attracted to?

Mealybugs prefer warmer environments and are especially attracted to plants with soft growth and higher nitrogen content.

3. Dust mites

Dust mites are a bug species that you can find all over your home, including your bed, sofa, mattress, rugs, carpets, etc.

These are among the smallest pests that resemble white lint and are mostly known for the allergic reactions they cause. They feed on dead skin cells and often reside on the skin of living hosts.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Unlike other mites, dust mites don’t bite, and neither do they try to suck your blood. They don’t live on your skin. They prefer to feed on dander and dead skin.

Do they spread disease?

Dust mites don’t spread any diseases, but they can cause allergies.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

The feces of dust mites can trigger strong allergic reactions and respiratory problems, especially among asthma patients. Pets are vulnerable to dust mite allergies too.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, dust mites mostly live indoors as they get a steady supply of dander and dead cells for food in the house.

How to get rid of them?

Maintain cleanliness in your household by regularly cleaning your home and laundering your clothes and sheets with hot water to eliminate dust mites. Additionally, consider utilizing HEPA filters to further aid in the removal of dust mites.

Where do they lay eggs?

They lay their eggs in the same places that they live: be it your bedsheets, your linens, your clothes, carpets, the corners of your house and furniture, and so on.

Female dust mites can lay as many as three eggs a day. The eggs take between a week and two weeks to hatch, first to come out as larvae and then grow bigger in two nymph stages before they molt into adults.

What are they attracted to?

Dust mites are primarily drawn to humid environments and unclean spaces, particularly where there is an abundance of dead cells for them to feed on. Installing a dehumidifier and HEPA filter can help reduce their presence in such areas.

4. Whiteflies

Whiteflies are pests that infest and damage plants. Although they resemble lint, whiteflies are easy to identify due to their moth-like structure.

Whiteflies feeding on the sap of foliage can cause the leaves to wither and become yellow. Moreover, the honeydew secreted by them attracts ants that might damage the plant even more.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Not only do these white insects bite, but they also attack repeatedly, and their bites feel far worse than mosquito bites. It might cause your skin to redden and itch for a day or two.

Do they spread disease?

Whiteflies carry various viruses that can affect plants and vegetable crops.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Whitefly bites are painful to both humans and pets and might trigger allergic reactions.

Can they get in the house?

Whiteflies are a common problem with indoor houseplants.

How to get rid of them?

It’s best to kill whiteflies using a soapy water spray.

Where do they lay eggs?

Whiteflies usually lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves.

What are they attracted to?

These pests are attracted to fruits and vegetables, especially yellow ones. Their attraction toward yellow objects is why yellow sticky traps are used to control whiteflies.

5. Cottony Cushion Scales

If you have any citrus trees in your garden, you might encounter cottony cushion scales. These plant bugs also have a lint-like appearance, but they aren’t actually white.

It’s the egg-sacs that they carry on their backs that make them look like cotton lint. As the females can reproduce asexually and each sac contains 600 to 800 eggs, these bugs spread very quickly and can infest an entire tree in just a few weeks.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Like all other scale insects, cottony cushion scales don’t bite.

Do they spread disease?

While no evidence has been found suggesting these pests spread any diseases, they can make a tree wither and die.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

There’s no evidence of cottony cushion scales causing any harm to humans or pets.

Can they get in the house?

These pests might get in your house, but usually, it won’t happen unless you have a citrus plant indoors.

How to get rid of them?

You can either brush the pests off your plants and trees or bring in natural predators such as the vedalia beetle and the Rodolia cardinalis. Another way is to cut off the infected branches and leaves. Don’t use pesticides because they will also end up harming other beneficial insects.

Where do they lay eggs?

These bugs lay their eggs on the leaves of the citrus plants they stay on.

What are they attracted to?

Cottony cushion scales are mostly attracted to citrus plants.

6. True Cochineal bug

For plant parents who love keeping cacti, this is a bug to be concerned about. True Cochineal bugs mostly target succulents and are very common in the hotter states in the US.

These bugs are flat-bodied and oval, with soft bodies and white scales. They are very tiny – around 0.2 inches in size and cluster together while infesting a plant.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

The true cochineal bug doesn’t bite. Despite the fact that the crushed cochineal bug is used as red dye all over the world, there is no evidence to suggest that they suck the blood of humans or other animals.

Do they spread disease?

This pest doesn’t carry diseases. However, a heavy true cochineal infestation can kill your cacti.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

The true cochineal bug is very tiny in size and can’t harm humans or pests. There was a myth at one time that these bugs suck human blood, but there is no truth to it.

Can they get in the house?

As these insects move mostly by floating in the wind, the chances of having them indoors are low unless you bring home an infected plant.

How to get rid of them?

You can use a water hose to blast these pests off your succulents. Soapy water or a mixture of water and vinegar should help with heavy infestations.

Where do they lay eggs?

The true cochineal bug lays its eggs on the leaves of succulents.

What are they attracted to?

These pests are attracted to very hot climates. You’d primarily find them living on cacti.

7. White springtails

White springtails are very small (1/8th of an inch) and have a springlike appendage that allows them to jump long distances.

Their tiny size, together with the fact that they cluster together, lets them closely resemble small tufts of lint.

Apart from occasionally chewing on plant roots, springtails are mostly harmless. However, they reproduce very quickly, and it isn’t hygienic to live in a home full of pests.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Springtails don’t bite. They don’t have teeth or strong mandibles to bite. Neither do they have a stinger.

Do they spread disease?

These pests don’t spread any diseases but may trigger respiratory allergies.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Springtails are harmless to humans and pets. There are some cases of allergies reported in pets due to springtails, but it is hard to specifically categorize that those cases happened due to a springtail infestation.

Can they get in the house?

Springtails can easily get into your home by floating in the air or jumping onto your plants from other infested ones when you buy a plant from outside.

How to get rid of them?

Springtails, creatures that thrive in damp environments, can be deterred from entering your house by using a dehumidifier.

Where do they lay eggs?

Springtails prefer to lay eggs in moist soil with ample organic matter. They feed on organic matter, and some consider them to be very effective in cleaning vivariums and terrariums.

What are they attracted to?

These pests are attracted to damp environments and are often a sign of water leaks. They are also attracted to the colors blue and yellow. Using a dehumidifier can asset in making your home less attractive to Springtails.

8. Beech scale bugs

As the name suggests, these pests mostly infest the bark of beech trees. They use needle-like mouthparts to suck nutrients out of the tree.

These pests are extremely harmful to trees as they can inject various pathogens while feeding.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Don’t worry; beech scale bugs are too tiny to cause any harm by biting you. They do not have the teeth or stingers to cause a biting sensation.

Do they spread disease?

These pests spread several plant diseases, including fatal ones like the beech bark disease.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Beech scale bugs do not harm humans or pets.

Can they get in the house?

It’s unlikely that you’ll find these pests indoors, as they mostly occur on beech trees.

How to get rid of them?

You can get rid of beech scale bugs by washing the tree carefully and using horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps.

Where do they lay eggs?

Beech scale bugs lay their eggs on the bark of beech trees.

What are they attracted to?

Luckily, these pests are attracted only to beech trees and will leave your houseplants alone.

9. White aphids

This species of aphids have pear-shaped and tapered bodies and are up 4/100 to 8/100 inches in size.

They suck out plant sap by penetrating the leaves with their mouthparts, eventually causing the leaves to curl up and wither off.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

White aphids can’t bite you as they don’t have teeth. However, they might pierce your skin with their needle-like mouthparts if they feel threatened.

Do they spread disease?

All aphids can spread a variety of diseases to the plants they attack. They can transmit viruses between plants as well.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Aphids are harmless to both humans and pets – they affect only plants.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, these pests can easily end up on your houseplants. They can get carried inside along with other plants.

How to get rid of them?

You can spray soapy water or natural insecticides like neem oil and vinegar to eliminate white aphids. For large infestations, you may have to use insecticidal dust.

Where do they lay eggs?

Aphids usually lay eggs on the underside of plant leaves. The larvae come out and feed on the plant sap of these leaves.

What are they attracted to?

Most species of aphids are attracted to the color yellow. Yellow-colored sticky traps are often used to trap these bugs.

10. Soil mites

Unlike most of the plant bugs in this list, soil mites are beneficial insects. They thrive in the soil and help decompose organic matter, thereby releasing nutrients for the plants to absorb.

These white mites mostly stay under the soil, but when they do come to the surface, they look like specks of dust.

Do they bite?

There’s no need to worry – soil mites do not bite, like most other mites.

Do they spread disease?

No diseases are borne by soil mites.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

These tiny bugs aren’t harmful to humans or pets in any way.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, these white mites often live in the soil of potted plants. However, they mostly stay in the soil and rarely get out.

How to get rid of them?

You shouldn’t try to get rid of soil mites; they are good for your plants.

Where do they lay eggs?

As soil mites spend their entire life in the soil, that’s where they lay their eggs too!

What are they attracted to?

These bugs are attracted mostly to decaying organic matter, which is why they’re so common in compost posts.

11. Root Aphids

Unlike other aphids, root aphids do not reside on plants. They live in the soil and attack the plant roots.

They are even more devastating than white aphids and destroy plants by attacking the roots. They are particularly devastating for the cannabis plant.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Just like other aphid species, root aphids cannot bite.

Do they spread disease?

Root aphids can cause severe wounds in the roots that result in the development of root-rotting pathogens. Moreover, these pests also transmit viruses.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Don’t worry; root aphids are harmless to humans and pets.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, these pests may end up in your house and attack your indoor plants.

How to get rid of them?

Although insecticidal dust can kill root aphids, you’ll likely have to uproot the entire plant if there is an infestation in your garden.

Where do they lay eggs?

These aphids generally lay eggs in the soil where they reside.

What are they attracted to?

Root aphids are attracted to any type of plant but prefer plants with certain scents. Sunflowers, calendula, and nettles make fine trap plants for these pests.

12. White spider mites

White spider mites resemble tiny baby spiders and look like lint when clustered together.

Spider mites usually attack plants during spring and target small branches or the underside of leaves. They weaken plants by feeding on the sap and causing the leaves to wither.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

Spider mites occasionally bite humans as well. Their bite can cause itching and rashes.

Do they spread disease?

Some species of spider mites can transmit the Potato Y virus to plants of the Solanaceae family.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

White spider mites are harmful only to plants. Their bites aren’t painful, either. They will only cause red marks on the skin.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, it’s quite common for these mites to be present inside homes.

How to get rid of them?

To deal with spider mites attacking your plants, spray a mixture of soapy water and white vinegar. As for the ones in your bed or soft furnishing, steam cleaning is the best solution.

Where do they lay eggs?

Spider mites lay eggs on leaves or within webbing built on the underside of leaves.

What are they attracted to?

These pests are attracted to light, which is why they often infest new plant growth exposed to direct sunlight.

13. Plaster Bagworms

You’ll mostly find these worms crawling on the walls or the ceiling of your home. These bugs have a unique appearance – they look like a dusty bag with a worm inside it.

They’re the larvae of cloth moths and feed on organic matter like dead insects, spider webs, hair, etc. After pupating into moths, they may feed on natural fibers from clothes.

Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint

Do they bite?

You don’t have to worry about getting bitten by a bagworm.

Do they spread disease?

No, bagworms don’t spread any diseases.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

These small bugs won’t harm you or your pets in any way.

Can they get in the house?

Yes, if you have cloth moths infesting your house and laying eggs, you might find bagworms on the walls.

How to get rid of them?

You can scoop these bugs off the wall or use a vacuum cleaner, but you need to solve the cloth moth problem for a long-term solution.

Where do they lay eggs?

Adult females lay their eggs in a bag, which they attach to twigs using silk.

What are they attracted to?

Bagworms are especially attracted to spider webs they can feed on, but other food matters like dead insects entice them too. If you are trying to get rid of them, one easy way is to turn on an outdoor light and close the indoor ones since they tend to become attracted to light and will chase it right out of your house.

14. Body Lice

This is a bug that you should be especially wary of, for it can feed on human blood. These tiny parasites live on their host’s skin and can suck blood from almost any body part. If you ever get body lice, you need immediate medical attention.

Do they bite?

Body lice are capable of biting, and their bites can be quite nasty. They result in severe itching and change the texture of your skin.

Do they spread disease?

These pests are notorious for spreading severe diseases like typhus, relapsing fever, trench fever, and different skin diseases.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Most types of lice have specific host species. Similarly, body lice only affect humans.

Can they get in the house?

These dangerous bugs can get into your home by hitching a ride on an infected person’s body, clothes, or other belongings.

How to get rid of them?

Shower thoroughly to get these bugs off your body. Wash all your clothes and other belongings well and clean up your home.

Where do they lay eggs?

You’ll usually find their eggs on the seams of clothing.

What are they attracted to?

These pests are prevalent in severely dirty and unhygienic places, especially homeless shelters and refugee camps. Often, they might infect entire neighborhoods.

15. Booklice

This is another type of white lice that has a small body and looks like white lint. Thankfully, they are far less harmful than body lice.

North America alone is home to more than 30 species of booklice. These translucent moisture bugs feed on the mold forming on books, cardboard, and wood.

Do they bite?

Booklice don’t bite humans.

Do they spread disease?

This type of lice does not spread any diseases.

Are they harmful to humans or pets?

Booklice are simply a nuisance and don’t harm humans or pets. They won’t usually damage your home either.

Can they get in the house?

Considering these pests mostly live indoors, yes, they can get inside your house.

How to get rid of them?

Removing mold, reducing moisture levels, and utilizing a dehumidifier in your home will help get rid of booklice.

Where do they lay eggs?

Booklice lay their eggs on damp and moist surfaces, often close to food surfaces.

What are they attracted to?

These pests are attracted to damp places with plenty of molds. They might also target food stored in your kitchen. Storing food in containers with lids is a good idea so booklice doesn’t get into your food.

Wrap Up

In addition to these, several other bugs, such as grain mites, baby bed bugs, and white maggots, also look like white lint.

You can keep your home free of some of these bugs by keeping it clean and getting rid of dirt and mold that attract pests.

If you are a plant parent, it’s wise to be aware of plant bugs that might target your plants and be vigilant against them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bug or Wad of Lint???

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Marble Falls, Tx.
February 24, 2017 7:24 am
I walked into the bathroom last night and there was this scary looking bug on the inside rim of the toilet! I can’t seem to find out what it is. Can you help?
Signature: tina price

Wad of Lint, we believe

Dear Tina,
While it might look vaguely bug-like, this is, in our opinion, a Wad of Lint.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

4 thoughts on “15 Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint”

  1. I have seen several of these in my house. I trapped one and noticed it has egs and noved like a spider to include an over 2 foot vertical drop like spiders do. I kept it in a small plastic box and it continued grow its legs. I have heard it referred to as a lint spider but most people do not believe it is anything but lint.

    Reply
  2. All these people sending images of lint bugs is very suspicious why don’t you look into mold and fungus. There are hundreds of types that are filamented that look like little balls of lint with hair sticking out of them. That would be my guess but what do I know. Try looking up chaetomium.

    Reply
  3. Springtails can and have now been found to live on and inside by burrowing into human skin, forget about they don’t go to dry places! Soles of my calluses on my feet r dry n I still removed em out of the deep callus! This can happen especially if u have morgellons! Caught on video added to YouTube channel. I for a fact have parasitic burrowing springtails. They weave themselves in my morgellons keratin fibers forming a almost microscopic lint ball n nestle in my follicles or skin I’m not quite sure which but it stings when they do. Got on video spraying legs with solution of water/vinegar/salt/hydrogen peroxide/borax and a cap of oxy clean and within seconds I have three white springtails emerge dead from being in my skin. When I sprayed sole of foot I got a bunch of the lint fuzz balls w the arthropods inside, also got a glassworm larvae out also in fiber cacoon w bunch of thick long fibers w it. Ppl w morgellons smell tasty to these opportunistic bugs n springtails can bite/sting/jump/crawl and burrow into human skin which was discovered by swedish bug expert in 1955! Ppl who were found to be burrowed by springtails would get stung with crawling and jumping and would have black brown and white specks come out skin and glittery specks which is their dried sperm. If u don’t believe me look into it on Google. Also the foundation for pedulosis(sp?) Has stated for the record that a large number of humans are becoming infested w springtails that have been found in human skin scrapings and causing leisons and dermatitis.

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