Some insects can damage food, destroy property, and spread infections. Others are creepy but harmless. So it helps if you can tell the difference between dangerous bugs and benign critters. The simplest way is to take a photo with your smartphone and do a reverse image search online. But to start you off, here’s a list of a few long skinny black bugs in the house.
Long Skinny Black Bugs in House
Farmers love earwigs because they eat aphids and other plant pests. But since this dark brown insect looks a little like a scorpion, it’s worrisome and off-putting for city dwellers. Ad it’s mostly active at night, which is even more disturbing. They eat rotting plants and fruit.
As intimidating as they appear, earwigs don’t bite people. If you get too close, they might pinch you, but they won’t break the skin or cause disease. Keep your ripening fruits and veggies covered to avoid attracting them. Use a vacuum cleaner and bait traps to kick them out.
Did you know crickets can be useful as security guards? They get really noisy when they’re seeking a mate, but as soon as a human approaches, they go silent. So if it’s chirping lustily and it suddenly shuts up, you’ll know someone is trying to sneak up on you – watch out!
Many cricket species are black, and they’re sometimes lumped with similar insects such as katydids and cicadas. Also, it’s only the dudes that make the music. Girls mostly dance along if they like the rhythm. If you don’t want them around, apply bug spray at their entry points.
When it comes to those long skinny black bugs in your house, weevils are the easiest to recognize. You’ll mostly find them in your kitchen pantry, rustling among grains, rice, beans, corn, and flour. Unfortunately, they’re the target of multiple urban pest control legends.
In some third-world countries, grains are dipped in kerosene before cooking to manage the weevils … and hormones! This happens a lot in boarding schools … and it doesn’t work! Try freezing your cereals for a week when you buy them, then store them in airtight containers.
While bees can be curvy and squat, wasps have skinny waists and elongated limbs. Their wings are long and narrow, and even that curled stinger is lengthy. Some wasps are natural pollinators while others feed on caterpillars, spiders, cockroaches, and household insects.
This makes them a useful form of pest control. But wasps are easily triggered and their sting is extremely painful to humans. If you spot one indoors, use a cool blow-drier or a fan to push it out of the window. Don’t kill it – that will just attract other wasps to defend their territory!
5. Click Beetles
Click beetles get their name from the clicking sound they make. If they fall or slip onto their backs, they can snap and click their bodies to flip themselves back onto their feet. These species range from skinny black ones to rounder ones that resemble flattened ladybugs.
Click beetles mostly click to defend themselves. Curiously, when they feel threatened, they can purposely roll onto their backs so their feet are free to fight! Their larvae (or caterpillar) stage is called a wireworm. They’re not dangerous, so just sweep or vacuum them away.
6. Rove Beetles
Most beetles have rounded, bulbous shapes with a medium-sized head and a larger body. But rove beetles are slim, elongated, and usually black. Outdoors, they move slowly and eat the eggs and larvae of other bugs. But they can be scary because they posture like scorpions.
If you poke one, it will raise its body and rear its front legs, much like a horse or scorpion would. Black rove beetles are harmless, but red-and-black ones can cause a painful rash, so don’t squish them. Avoid direct contact and just use your vacuum cleaner or broom instead.
Springtails are like nature’s athletes. Slow-motion videos show them somersaulting like the best trampoline, diving, and gymnastic champions at the Olympics! They do this by using the tail tucked under their bodies as a springboard. That’s how they got their memorable name.
Springtails are sometimes called snow fleas because they do well in fresh snow and their movements are mistaken for jumping fleas. Outdoors, they eat rotting materials, but indoors, they can attack ripening fruits and veggies, so keep them carefully covered when it’s cold.
8. Seed Bugs
Seed bugs are kind of link stink bugs, in the sense that they don’t harm humans directly, but they smell. Their reek is a form of self-defense that people may accidentally trigger when the insects come indoors. Interestingly, these bugs look like longer, skinnier stink bugs as well.
To keep them in the yard where they belong, try to figure out how they got in. They may have snuck under the door or slipped through torn screens, so install brush strips and fix all holes. Use electronic zap lights to attract and destroy them if that doesn’t bug you, pun intended.
9. Crane Flies
While it’s true that tropical mosquitoes can grow as big as your hand, that’s not necessarily what you’re looking at. Technically speaking, mosquitoes are a type of fly species … and so are crane flies. They look a lot like mosquitoes but are generally larger and don’t bite people.
They’re sometimes called daddy long legs, and their limbs are as gangly as the spiders that share their nickname. Their larvae are tough-skinned worms so they’re sometimes called leatherjackets. Adult crane flies don’t eat – only their larvae do, so they don’t bother humans.
When you see them against a pale, pastel, or white backdrop, both firebrats and silverfish appear as long skinny black bugs in the house. But while silverfish are off-white, silver, or grey, firebrats range from grey to brown. Both are sometimes referred to as bristletail bugs.
It’s because of their long bristly legs and their triple-spiked tail. They eat dehydrated foods like grains and jerky, but they also enjoy the starchy glue in books, cardboard, and wallpaper. You can also find them in damp clothing. Control them with traps and a good dehumidifier.
11. Praying Mantis
The average person knows two things about the praying mantis. One, females eat their partners’ heads after mating, and two, a praying mantis wants to get into your nose! Well, girls don’t always decapitate the boys … and the boys can keep going headless, pun intended.
Two, none of them is interested in your nose. And three, these skinny bugs range in color – green, grey, brown, or even pink! Also, one acceptable plural for common species? Praying mantids. Remember that for your next game show! Control them through manual removal.
Millipedes and centipedes are closer to red than black, but in daylight, they look rather dark. And they’re scary in different but equally primal ways. Centipedes have sharp-looking appendages and eat meat. Millipedes coil their bodies and their endless legs can be creepy.
And millipedes don’t bite, but some can squirt mustard! Both bugs crawl in through windows and doors, so you can keep them out by sealing any cracks and gaps, especially during rainy or wintry weather. Use a broom or vacuum cleaner to get them out, since they’re easy to spot.
If you know what to look for, you can’t confuse a centipede with a millipede. A millipede looks like a worm with tiny body segments and endless legs, while a centipede has fewer segments and legs, plus some scary-looking teeth and claws. Also, centipedes bite, but millipedes don’t.
Centipedes can have 15 segments or over 170, with one pair of legs per segment, so they can have about 360 legs. Millipedes have 25 to 100 segments with four legs each. Avoid crushing them with bare feet. Seal gaps, use salt, pesticides, diatomaceous earth, and repellent scents.
Earlier on this list, we mentioned that firebrats and silverfish are quite similar. But their differences affect how you’ll manage them, so let’s focus on that. We talked about color, but firebrats are also broad and squat compared to silverfish. They’re more outdoorsy in general.
Since silverfish prefer cool areas and firebrats like warmer spaces, the latter are likely to drift in from the yard. So treatment includes sealing any entry points and making a ‘pesticide moat’ to serve as a barrier. Buy an appropriate broad-spectrum multi-bug insecticide spray.
15. Thunder Bugs
You’ve probably heard of the Thunder Cats, but what about thunder bugs? They’re also known as thrips or thunder flies. It’s unusual to find these long skinny black bugs in the house since they prefer to be outdoors. But they might be lured indoors by houseplants.
They don’t bite humans, but they are vectors of plant viruses so they can ruin your potted plants and ornamentals. And they can breed all year round indoors or in greenhouses since the conditions are calibrated for your plants. Traps and pesticides are the go-to solution.
16. Swarming Termites
If you see a flying termite with and without its wings, it looks like two separate creatures. The winged ones come out when it rains, aiming to start new colonies. But they soon shed their wings and appear as long, skinny brown or black bugs that are slithering inside your home.
Since they only come out when it rains, you can keep them out by closing doors, windows, and any gaps they might use to fly in. They follow the light and soon die, so you can simply sweep or vacuum them away the following day. Or pick them up, season, and fry them. Yum!
You can’t mistake a scorpion for anything else. Those terrifying pincers and whip-like tails are nature’s trademark. In the water, you might think a shrimp or lobster looks similar, but if it’s walking around in your house, this venomous skinny black bug is instantly identifiable.
Household scorpions are often black, with their arms and tail curling upward. So if you live in an area where they’re common, use flashlights to avoid accidentally stepping or sitting on one. Clear food sources clutter they might hide in, and buy pesticides that target scorpions.
18. Stick Insects
Outdoors, stick insects can be disconcerting. You’ll see what you’re sure is a dry twig until it starts moving! Inside the house, you can easily spot them on walls or wallpaper. They’re better camouflaged on a carpet, rug, or floor since you’ll just assume the wind blew them in.
Their colors range from grey to brown, so they’re sharply contrasted against interior walls and surfaces. They can be helpful since they eat other insects but these dull skinny bugs still have a high creep factor. Use a residual pesticide that will affect them when they walk on it.
19. Stilt Bugs
The skin tone of a stilt bug – sometimes called a thread bug – can range from yellow to dark brown. So when it’s walking on a light wall, it may be mistaken for a long skinny black bug. Its name comes from its gangly stilt-like legs and it attacks greenhouse plants and veggies.
It sounds pretty scary because it causes – and this is a technical term – fruit abortion. So you don’t want it on your potted plants or kitchen garden, especially if you have onion bulbs and lettuce growing on your window sill. Pesticides are the best way to get them out of the house.
20. Longhorned Beetle
A longhorn beetle can be plain black or speckled black with white, brown, or yellow. It’s the generic name of a long, skinny bug whose antennae resemble antelope horns. With over 35,000 distinct species, some have antennae that are longer than the beetle’s entire body!
That’s why these beetles are sometimes called longicorns. Their scientific name is equally quirky – it comes from a shepherd that pissed off some nymphs and got turned into a bug. Curiously, their larvae are called round-headed borers. Pesticides are the typical control tool.
21. Water Scorpions
Thanks to pop culture, we assume scorpions live in the desert. So we’d probably be surprised to find one in the sink, or swimming in some tossed plastic ice cream tub or Tupperware that collected water and formed a puddle. Chances are it’s a water scorpion with a straight tail.
It’s flatter than land scorpions, and as we said, the tail doesn’t curl upwards. And while it does bite, it has no venom so it’s not toxic. But you don’t want to live with these creepy red-bellied bugs, so get rid of any stagnant water in or around your house and use pesticides too.
Did we forget any long skinny black bugs you might find at home? Tell us in the comments!