For most people, bugs are eery and disturbing. That’s why we call them creepy crawlies! Our instinct is to squish, swat, or spray them. But not all bugs are harmful. And even if they are, identifying these critters makes them easier to deal with. So let’s look through some of the most common tiny bugs and walls and ceilings. We’ll also discuss ways to get rid of them.
Tiny Bugs on Walls and Ceiling
Booklice are small insects that look a bit like baby bedbugs (or rather, bedbug nymphs). They sometimes have wings and are 1 or 2mm long. Their lifecycle is 6 to 9 months. Eggs hatch in 2 to 4 weeks then take another 4 weeks to reach reproductive age. These nymphs molt roughly 6 times before they reach adulthood, and can live for 6 additional months as adults.
Booklice are sometimes called barklice or barkflies. Outdoors, they live in trees, eating algae, lichen, rotting material, and fungi. Indoors, they live on walls and ceilings, eating household items made of starch. These include cereals and grains, but also the glue in books, cardboard boxes, and wallpaper. To control booklice, clean the area then use an appropriate bug spray.
2. Mold Mites
Mold mites, sometimes called wall mites, are tiny bugs in walls and ceilings. They eat mold so you’ll find them in cold, damp spots. A single mite is too small to easily spot, but they usually live in colonies so you’ll see clusters of white dots with a pale brown cocoon. A colony can have thousands of bugs, and they look like they’re dripping off those wet surfaces.
Each wall mite lives from one week to one month, and females lay 500 to 800 eggs within that time. They don’t bite humans, but they can damage property, especially walls and wood. They also trigger respiratory allergies. To get rid of wall mites, keep the area dry to prevent mold from showing up in the first place. Treat the mold with vinegar or bleach to kill it.
3. Household Casebearers
Outdoors, bagworms camouflage themselves in evergreens. They mix leaves and needles with silk to build their ‘bag’. But household casebearers, sometimes mislabelled as plaster bagworms, are easier to spot. You’ll see their silky brown bags or cocoons in the corners of your walls, curtains, rugs, or ceiling. The worm sometimes crawls around carrying its case.
These bugs don’t bite humans. They might even be helpful, since they use spiderwebs, rust, dirt, hair, and the spoils of other insects to build their cocoons. Casebearers need humid conditions to complete their lifecycle, so keeping the house dry (with AC or a dehumidifier) will control them. Check for leaks and damp spots too. Vacuum the cases and trash them.
Cockroaches range in size from tiny, dark-brown bugs to 3 or 4-inch specimens with working wings! They don’t bite humans, but that rustling noise they make as they route around at night can be traumatizing. Besides, having them in your house makes you look unhygienic and feel dirty – just think of how soon you leave a motel or restaurant when you spot one!
Plus, they reproduce at alarming rates so you can go from one roach to several thousand in just a few weeks. To get rid of roaches, you have to deep-clean the area and fumigate it. This requires multiple treatment sessions, and in extreme cases, the whole building may need to be torched by the fire department. Avoid garbage, clutter, and other cockroach-food sources.
Ants are said to be the strongest creatures in the world because they can lift multiple times their body weight. They also have an amazing hive mind, with each ant playing a different role within the colony. Some ant species will even nurse their sick comrades and carry them away from the battlefield when they’re injured. These are the type that fight and eat termites.
Indoors, ants can be annoying because they get into your sugar, uncovered dishes, and sweet cereals. They communicate through pheromones so when one ant finds food in your house, it will soon attract hundreds or even thousands of its friends. You can control them with natural remedies like cinnamon, cucumber, mint, citrus scents and oils to mask the ant pheromones.
If you have pets that sometimes go outdoors, you probably have fleas. They’re small, dark brown, and rather jumpy. And since they don’t fly, you’ll mostly find them on beddings, carpets, and rugs close to ground level. It’s hard to get rid of them because they can hide in cracks, baseboards, and other hard-to-reach places. And you can barely see them in pet fur.
Fleas spread diseases, and while they mostly feed on your pet’s blood, they sometimes bite humans. You might notice an itch and a dark rash on your ankles, lower legs, and calves since fleas can only jump a few feet. You can get rid of them with flea combs, pipettes, and home remedies like coconut oil and citrus-scented soap. You’ll need multiple applications.
7. Fruit Flies and Drain Flies
Fruit flies seem to magically appear out of nowhere and settle on your walls and ceilings. They have a quick life cycle, so you can ‘grow’ a whole swarm in one or two days just by leaving fruits uncovered on the counter. A grown fruit fly is about 1/8th of an inch, with a brown, grey, or black body and red eyes. A female can lay 500 eggs which mature in a week!
This means after 7 days, you have hundreds of flies ready to lay eggs – that’s why they’re so hard to control! They’re similar to drain flies, except the latter are darker and mostly hang out in bathrooms and drainpipes. You can get rid of both by covering their food sources, using bleach, or baiting and trapping them with a dish of liquid soap topped with saran wrap.
Termites kind of look like naked ants because they don’t have an exoskeleton. And since they have no protective chitin layer on top of their bodies, they rarely expose themselves. This means you’ll hear and sense them long before you see them. You might notice your wood sounds hollow because the termites have dug holes in it, or you may hear the bugs marching.
Outdoors, you may see them scuttling if you turn over a dead leaf or twig they were feasting on. Indoors, you might notice a termite trail, which is a crumbly soil tunnel running along your walls, ceilings, or baseboards. They don’t bite humans but they do thousands of dollars in property damage. Destroy their mounds, use sealants, and call an exterminator you trust.
We assume bedbugs only live in beds. It’s their favorite spot because it’s a secure food source. They can feast on you all night then hide in the creases of your mattress during the day. And bed bugs can stay dormant for months without food, which makes them really hard to control. They sneak into luggage, furniture, clothes, boats, or cars when you’re traveling.
Bedbugs can slip into cracks in the wall, gaps in your shoes, and even the spaces in your sofa, so finding them is difficult. They can’t fly though and only jump a few inches. But they bite humans and you’ll notice an itchy rash on your skin. Large colonies can cause anemia, but they don’t spread disease. Professional fumigation is the best way to fix bedbug infestations.
Maggots are baby flies. Or more accurately, they’re fly larvae, which is the second stage after the egg hatches. They look like beige worms and can crawl up walls and ceilings looking for food. You’ll find them in garbage dumps, trash cans, toilets, or any spot where flies hang out. In your home, you’ll mostly spot maggots from houseflies, fruit flies, or bluebottle blowflies.
You can manage them by keeping your toilets clean and your trash cans covered. That way, flies can’t lay more eggs, and any that hatch might be trapped and die before they develop into adult flies. Bug spray is effective as well, and candles are a good fly repellent – though they can also be a fire hazard. If you have dogs, cats, or rabbits, keep their litter hygienic.
11. Dust Mites
Mold mites feed on mold, but dust mites hide in dust and pet dander. You’ll mostly find them on carpets and under furniture, but they can also climb walls, hide in the rafters, or perch on the ceiling. You can’t spot a single dust mite because they’re microscopic. But they live in large groups so you may see layers of ‘white dust’ shifting on your ceilings and walls.
They irritate your nose and throat so they can trigger asthma attacks, inflame sinuses, or cause respiratory congestion. They like to eat dead or dry cells and they leave waste on your skin so you sneeze, your eyes turn red, and your body gets itchy rashes and welts. They hang out on pillows and stuffed toys. Wash those regularly in hot water and keep humidity low.
The average person is terrified of spiders, and they range in size from tiny bugs on walls and ceilings to 11-inch tarantulas! Household spiders are quite easy to recognize, with their eight-legged scuttle and their silky webs. And though they can be scary, they’re helpful too, since they eat other pests. Sadly, their usefulness is eclipsed by creepiness so we still hate them.
Use a bug zapper to kill flies and other insects. This way, you can starve the spiders away. You should also remove any webs as soon as you spot them so the hungry, homeless spiders can move on. Vacuum any high spots or dark corners where they can weave webs unnoticed, and get rid of any clutter that might shelter them. Bug spray works too if it’s the right type.
13. Indian Meal Moth
If you check the walls and ceilings of your kitchen, closet, or pantry, you might spot some Indian meal moths. They don’t bite people, but they mess with your food, causing needless wastage and damage. Their larva or worm stage is the most destructive and has a wide diet that includes grains, dog food, spices, seeds, and dried fruit. They attack grocery stores too.
Oddly, they’re not from India but were first discovered in granaries full of maize aka Indian corn, so American farmers adopted the name. And after they eat, they leave webs, molted casings, and droppings in your food. If you find a single moth or larva in your store, throw everything out. Vacuum to remove any residue, then clean the area and slather in bug spray.
Beetles are a huge category of insects that crawl on walls and ceilings. They can be black, brown, blue, or even purple, and while they don’t bite humans, they can still be frustrating. If one falls on you, that tickling sensation as it walks all over you can cause a shuddering primal reaction. And they leave droppings and shell casings around your home, making it look dirty.
The method you use to get rid of beetles will depend on the species, but household bug spray will usually do the trick. These days, you can snap a photo of the beetle with your phone and do a reverse image search online. That’ll help you identify the species and its diet so you can remove its food source. You can also find easy-to-follow tips on getting rid of the beetle itself.
Another common household bug is the mosquito. Depending on where you live, they can be as tiny as ants or as big as your palms. Outdoors, they hang out in marshes and tall grass, but indoors, they mostly rest on walls and ceilings when they’re not buzzing around your head. Some mosquitoes carry diseases while others just give you nasty bumps and itchy red skin.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, so get rid of any stagnant pools or puddles around your house. You’ll have to check regularly because they can lay eggs in anything from a drain to a piece of Tupperware that someone tossed out. Bug sprays are helpful, but you can also try insecticide sticks that burn like incense or electric pesticide diffusers that you can plug in.
Have we forgotten any tiny bugs on walls and ceilings? Remind us in the comments below!