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Bed bugs or body lice? Help ID [a: mites]

(10 posts)
  1. bzty

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 13:24:44
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    Hi everyone. I'd love some help ID-ing these as bed bugs, body lice, or carpet beetles. Sorry for the poor quality of the images, and thanks for any help you can provide.

    Set of images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/102295490@N03/sets/72157635656040473/
    Best image with no blood: http://flic.kr/p/fXSita
    Best image with blood: http://flic.kr/p/fXSCg8
    Video of bug crawling on green bedsheet: http://flic.kr/p/fXTX9X

    The basics:

    The smaller ones are smaller than the "O" in the word "DOLLAR" on the front of a U.S. quarter. I caught 37 of these small guys in my bed, on my bedside table, and on my legs this morning. They looked like flecks of dirt crawling around. They're about the size of poppy seeds, which makes me think lice. I'm pretty sure the large ones are carpet beetles.

    The story:

    My roommate in Los Angeles began getting bites a few weeks ago, thought it was lice, treated it, and stopped getting bites. I returned home to LA from out of town and started getting bitten shortly thereafter. The bites seemed to happen while I slept and I got them a few nights in a row. Then he began getting bites again.

    We found a few bugs in the seam where the carpet meets the wall. We taped them to index cards and thought they were bed bugs. We called an exterminator. He seemed very unprofessional, said the bugs we caught were bed bugs, and quoted us at $840 for the whole unit (it's a 2-bedroom coach house).

    Our landlord asked us to get a second estimate, so I called Isotech because they came highly recommended on this forum. The inspector came, looked at my initial index card with the larger bugs, said they were carpet beetles, and told me to clean and vacuum the room thoroughly. I was relieved. This guy seemed much more knowledgeable than the one from the other company.

    However, I thought I might still be getting bitten, and this morning at 5AM I caught the 37 much smaller bugs. I put them on new index cards and called Isotech again. The guy asked me to text him some photos, which I did. He thought body lice and double-checked it with their expert who confirmed lice.

    Basically, I'd like confirmation of lice here on the forum, just to be sure. To be clear, I'm really happy with Isotech. The guy came once, correctly identified my first specimens as carpet beetles, and correctly noted no signs of bed bugs (no obvious fecal matter). Then, he helpfully spent time looking at my photos and talking to me on the phone. He's been great.

  2. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 13:45:34
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    Hi,

    Its not bedbug and not lice.

    I think you will need to search for images of bird mites and compare with what you see in front of you.

    Its very hard to get accurate and clear images without specialist lenses but that's what I lean towards having seen the images and watched the video.

    Hope that helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bedbug infestations in domestic and commercial settings. The patent numbers are GB2463953 and GB2470307.
  3. bzty

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 14:32:47
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    Thank you for the quick response, David. If you have a chance, could you explain what makes you think it couldn't be bed bugs or lice--is it appearance, size, or something else? I agree that it could be bird mites. I'm going to try to borrow a better camera. For now, I caught one live bug in a jar and have contact another PCO.

    It might be worth noting that we have two cats who live in the front house (not attached but we spend a lot of time up there). We also have a rat or two who occasionally spend time inside the walls of our unit (the coach house in back). We have rat traps but haven't caught anything yet. Also, we've spent time in NY and SF recently, and a visitor who stayed with us a month ago had just been camping.

  4. loubugs

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 15:01:40
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    Not bed bugs which is obvious. Bloated creatures look like mites, but could be rodent or bird mite. You can see the mouthparts and legs are concentrated up front. Lice and these would be biting lice in birds, not sucking lice as mammals sustain. Biting lice would actually long more like booklice, probably with more elongate bodies. Of course, no wings. Head would be obvious and legs would be along thorax.
    Classification of lice and booklice
    Arthropods (Arthropoda) » Insects (Insecta) » Barklice, Booklice, and Parasitic Lice (Psocodea)
    Arthropods (Arthropoda) » Insects (Insecta) » Barklice, Booklice, and Parasitic Lice (Psocodea) » Phthiraptera (Parasitic Lice) » Mallophaga (Chewing Lice) » Ischnocera » Philopteridae

    Professional consulting entomologist/arachnologist in all matters dealing with insects and arachnids.
  5. bzty

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 15:50:47
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    Thanks for your help, Lou. To be clear, you think these are probably mites and not lice? I got a bit confused by the quick transition into biting vs sucking lice.

    For anyone: Can mites sustain themselves on human hosts or will they eventually dissipate?

  6. loubugs

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 16:08:43
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    Mites. Lice on birds don't inflate like that. They are biting/chewing lice and don't suck blood. Sucking lice are on mammals (like us with the human lice, either head or body). Human hosts can't sustain the bird or rodent mite population and breeding is not supposed to occur by exclusively feeding on us because the normal host is no longer available.

  7. bzty

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Fri Sep 20 2013 15:50:27
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    We discovered we have rats in the walls. We haven't seen them inside the house, but we have confirmation by sound, odor, and droppings. One died relatively recently, near the kitchen, and another is still alive, near one of the two bedrooms. Based on that, we're guessing that the mites are rat mites. We bought rat traps and poison. And last night, at Isotech's suggestion, we self-fogged the house (using 4 Raid Deep Reach foggers) to kill off the first wave of the mites. Haven't seen any live bugs since then. My roommate got no bites last night. I may have gotten a handful, but I have so many already it's tough to tell.

    PCO from Isotech is coming on Monday to inspect again, rodent proof the house, and hopefully deal with both pests.

    Thanks again for the help so far. I'll update once we know more.

  8. loubugs

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Fri Sep 20 2013 15:55:46
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    Now known to be rat hosts? Now you know rodent mites, not bird mites. There are 3 species that can be on rodents. I think one of which may be more associated with mice. Anyway, you have arachnids and not insects biting.

  9. saraa

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    Posted 5 months ago
    Tue Nov 19 2013 19:46:29
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    Hi, I have a similar story. Can you tell me if it's the same as yours?

    I was out back 3 weeks ago, and discovered a rat's nest. After that I started being bit by day but mostly at night. I can't see or find this bug. I have no bit marks or welts, it feels like tiny pricks, some feel more intense then others. They bit me from my scalp to my toes and it only itches when they bit. It's creepy, I can sometimes feel something here or there moving slightly under my clothes. When the sun is up I have the least problems. But as it starts to get dark, I'll feel a few biting and as it gets darker I feel more, at night it's the worst. I was hoping they would die off, but they haven't, they seem to be increasing. Maybe my husband is bringing more in with him every time he works out back or carries in wood for the fire place.

    When I walk around the house at night I can feel these things jump on my legs and start to bit.

    I am very sensitive to chemicals, so I tried Essential oils: Lavender, Eucalyptus and Lemongrass (all suppose to be good for fleas but not this). I've used Eurax lotion which seems to kill or keep them away, but the lotion is poisonous and prolong use can cause the top layer of skin to come off (which is fatal). Once I wash the Eurax lotion off the bugs come back. I've used DE (Diertenecious Earth) all over the house and bedroom with no difference. I keep washing my clothes and the sheets, and running the comforter in the hot drier, but it doesn't seem to stop them.

    Do you have any advice for me? Can you tell me what I am dealing with and what it's life cycle is (so I can stop it)?

  10. bzty

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    Posted 4 months ago
    Mon Nov 25 2013 14:04:48
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    Hi folks. I wanted to respond quickly to saraa about her problem and then give an update on how my situation was resolved.

    saraa: The experts and entomologists on this site would need more information and ideally some visual evidence to really help you ID your problem. That said, if you think it's possible that you have (rat) mites, I recommend putting a canopy over your bed. I used a white sheet made of jersey cotton (so it was stretchable). I tied it to my bed posts at the head of the bed and held it down with large books on the top of my dresser at the end of the bed. The benefits of the canopy are that if you have mites coming from the ceiling (the majority of mine were coming from the seams between the "tiles" of our ceiling), they will have a harder time getting to you (fewer bites) AND you will have a surface to examine to try and obtain visual evidence.

    Everyone else: we definitely had either bird or rat mites (possibly both) as there were rats in the walls and birds being attacked by stray cats near our house. In any case, I was bitten regularly for 5 weeks or so, sometimes with a day or two between bites. The mites we had were black or grey to the naked eye (about the size of the periods in this sentence) and brown or red through magnification. Our landlord never actually solved the problem, so we ended up moving out, but by then I felt in control of the situation.

    The mites were difficult to see but definitely visible to the naked eye. I first saw a number of them crawling on my thighs in the middle of the night (4am). I had just completed an inspection and was about to go back to sleep when I saw, in the corner of my eye, a moving dot on my leg. Subsequently, I knew what to look for and occasionally saw them during the day (on ceiling above bed, on laptop screen, on bedside table, etc). Mostly, I saw one or two just before going to bed around midnight--usually on the canopy I had set up. By then, I was being bitten much less than initially because I began a daily washing/spraying regimen.

    Here's how I mitigated the issue and how I gathered visual evidence. Hope this helps someone in the future!

    -white sheets
    -canopy over bed
    -spray bottle filled with 91% alcohol (sprayed around bed, corners/edges of room, and especially my ceiling over the bed)
    -nightly washings of clothes and sheets just before bed (hot wash with detergent and Borax, hot dry)
    -washed and stored the majority of my clothes in large Ziploc bags and heavy duty construction bags
    -white index cards and transparent Scotch tape
    -magnifying glass
    -Protect-a-bed encasements for mattress and pillows
    -Bed Bug ClimbUp Interceptors
    -bug spray with Deet


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