5 White Bugs That Look Like Lint.
Bugs, whether black, red, or white, are not strangers in most homes.
Because aside from being notorious pests, some bugs have a very painful bite (talk about fire ants!). But oftentimes when we see a bug (an insect rather), we can easily tell.
However, sometimes, some white bugs don’t appear like insects at all. Instead, these white bugs look more like lint or dust.
As such, many people find it difficult to recognize them until they either sting or bite. Of course, without proper identification, controlling such bugs would also prove to be very difficult.
But fret not friends. Because in this article, we’ll discuss some features that can help you to tell these bugs and lint apart. Likewise, we’ll describe the important features of some of these fuzzy bugs. As a bonus, we’ll also note a few ways to control those little white bugs that look like lint or dust. Just do well to tag along, okay?
What Are Lint?
In case you don’t know, lint is a visible fiber that jostles out of the weave of a fabric.
Oftentimes, we see these fiber as tiny, whitish, and woolly attachments on worn-out clothes.
At other times, you can even find several articles of lint gathered on the screen of your clothes dryer.
Now, some bugs look exactly like that; tiny, whitish, and even sometimes woolly. Because of this semblance, it’s quite hard to differentiate between lint and these fuzzy little critters.
Worst still, some of these tiny, sneaky, and woolly white bugs can bite. But because they are under the covers, you won’t know until it’s too late.
For that reason comes the golden question: what species of insects are these white, lint-like bugs exactly?
The common lint-like bugs around us are whiteflies, dust mites, grain mites, aphids, woolly aphids, mealybugs, and even termites.
As a rule of thumb, aphids, dust mites, whiteflies and mealybugs can’t bite. Although, dust mites are known to cause severe respiratory infections. Likewise, skin contact with mealybugs may also result in skin irritation.
On the other hand, termites and grain mites can sometimes bite humans. In fact, the bites from grain mites, aka itch mites, are known to cause severe itching and pin-point vesicles on the human skin.
READ MORE: Clover Mites: Everything You Need To Know.
How to Tell Lint and a Little White Bug Apart?
Lint is often white. But sometimes under rare conditions, it can also be black. So, one best way to differentiate between lint and a bug is to look a bit closer.
If the unknown body is a small, fluffy and black speck, then, there’s a high chance that such a body is just lint. However, if you see a similar black spec that appears like a mark from a ball pencil, then such a body might be a bed bug poop.
If you add little water to the body and it spreads, the probability doubles. So, check around for bed bugs. If you locate any bed bug; dead or alive, then you have a bed bug situation.
Easy, isn’t it? Well… things are a little bit different with white lint. Because unlike black lint, white lint resembles actual creatures and not their poops.
So, to differentiate between white lint and a white bug, look out for segments, a distinct head, and any sign of movement on the unidentified body. If it has cylindrical segments or a distinct head or luckily, you see it move, then the body is a white bug and not lint.
This test is true because lint is simply a non-living thing. As we all know, most non-living things are immobile. Hence, a white bug, which is a living thing, will show signs of actual movement.
Then again, because the bug is an insect, it will have a distinct head. If it’s a termite, you may see cylindrical segments. And if it’s whitefly, you should expect to see wings.
Bugs That Look Like Lint.
Whiteflies are the most common white flying bugs or the little fuzzy bugs that float around the house.
These whiteflies are tiny, triangular, soft-bodied, and winged insects. Though they are called flies, whiteflies are actually not flies.
Instead, whiteflies are sap-suckers found mostly on the underbelly of different leaves. At a single glance, a swarm of whitefly would look like an old collection of lint.
But if you look more closely, the white wings of whiteflies become apparent.
Like aphids, whiteflies excrete honeydew.
This honeydew is the result of their sucking the cell sap of plants. So, even though whiteflies cannot bite humans, a whitefly infestation in your garden would be a disaster.
How to Get Rid of Whiteflies, aka, White Flying Bugs
To remove whiteflies from your garden, follow these steps in tandem:
- Scatter the adult whiteflies and the eggs. To do this, spray the infested plants or even your entire garden with a high-power water hose.
- Spray the upper and lower leaves with an insecticidal soap solution in the evening. Evenings are good because cooler temperatures would help reduce any adverse effects on your plants.
- If the insecticidal soap solution is unavailable, you can use a cocktail of dishwashing soap and water instead.
- Repeat this process until all whiteflies have been eradicated.
- Always quarantine new plants before adding them to old collections. This will help reduce the risk of a whitefly infestation.
- Sometimes, whiteflies can be immune to chemical insecticides. In such cases, keeping natural predators like hummingbirds, dragonflies and ladybugs can help tackle a whitefly infestation.
2) Dust Mites.
Dust mites have a maximum length of just ¼ inch. With such size, you would need a microscope to see them as individuals. But in clusters, dust mites look more or less like lint.
Like all insects, dust mites are found everywhere. But then, they prefer to reside in hot areas with high humidity. So, when we see them inside the house, they’re in for something other than a place to live. That thing is food.
You see, dust mites feed on our dead epidermal cells. To get access to this, they hide beneath bedclothes, furniture dressing, rugs, and carpets. This is because these are areas where human skin cells tend to flake onto. These detached skin cells are what dust mites love to eat.
As such, dust mites have very little reason to bite humans. However, dust mites are dirty. When they’re done eating, they leave behind their poops and skin dust.
These two things are allergenic. That is, once our skins come in contact with them, they cause severe irritations and sometimes, allergies. As such, it is very important to get rid of dust mites.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mites
Dust mites are stubborn. So, it’s always very difficult to eradicate them completely. But to remove a good number of dust mites, the following simple steps can help:
- Adopt using allergen-proof beddings – These beddings are usually made of tightly-woven materials. And they are available in clothes stores.
- Try to wash your bedclothes every week – While washing, use hot water or a hot dryer for about 20 minutes will help kill off the dust mites. For infested items that are not fit for hot washing, freeze for about a day.
- Keep your indoor atmosphere moisture-free – To do this, you can use a dehumidifier, a dry fan, or an air conditioner.
- Vacuum your entire house – Make sure you do this very often. Target furniture, beds, rugs, and carpets. These items serve as great breeding spots for mites.
- If possible, replace or completely remove infested carpets and rugs – For as long as these items exist within a house that’s prone to a dust mite infestation, dust mites will always find solace therein.
READ MORE: Can Chiggers Live in your Bed?
3) Grain Mites.
Grain mites, aka mold mites, are the most common crawling bugs found indoors. Oftentimes, we see them as tiny, transparent, and white bodies.
Because of that, it’s very difficult for an untrained eye to notice their body outline.
As a result, we often mistake grain mites for lint and dust specs. However, if you look closely with a magnifying glass, you will notice the wriggling creatures that appear like crawling ants.
You see, mold mites love to stay in moist and humid places. This is because mold mites, as in the name, feed on molds. These molds and other fungi grow in moist places. Examples of such places include moist walls, kitchen floors, bathrooms, humid attics, and basements.
However, when these mold mites find their way into your kitchen, the grains stored therein are where to find them. Hence, the name; grain mites.
How to Get Rid of Mold Mites, aka Grain Mites.
- Make your house and yard moist-free – To do this, fix all leaking pipes, and always clean up water spills immediately. This will help make your house unwelcoming to molds and mold mites.
- Eliminate all molds already on your house walls – A cocktail of bleach and water will help with this. So, make a spray out of this and apply it to areas infested with molds. Alternatively, you can use mold removal sprays.
- Fix all damage already done by the molds – Cracks oftentimes develop on mold-infested walls. Close them up. You can even try re-painting.
- Keep your house humidity on the low – A good dehumidifier, a dry fan or an air conditioner can help with this.
4) Woolly Aphids.
Like whiteflies, woolly aphids are another tiny and fuzzy white bug that look like lint. Oftentimes, wooly aphids are found outdoors.
Like all aphids, woolly aphids suck cell sap. Add to that, woolly aphids can eat buds, roots, and even plant leaves. As a waste product, they secrete honeydew.
This honeydew creates a breeding platform for molds. These molds invite mold mites and can also leave sticky stains on economical plants. As such, woolly aphids are a real menace in the garden.
How to Get Rid of Woolly Aphids.
The following strategies can help kill off woolly aphids:
- You can kill off the aphids with any pyrethrin-based insecticides.
- If the side-effects of chemical sprays scare you, scrub the infested areas with a mixture of soap and water. Then spray with natural fatty acids.
- Always check your plant for infestation. Because the earlier you start the treatment, the better.
Mealybugs are often found in gardens, greenhouses, lawns, and on potted plants. Like the other white bugs on this list, mealybugs look like a large cluster of lint.
But if you look much closer, you will notice the claws on mealybugs. With that, you can tell them apart.
Structurally, mealybugs have soft bodies and lack wings.
They prefer a warm atmosphere and feed by sucking cell sap. So, as gentle as they may look, they can cause severe economic damage to your garden.
Normally, mealybugs would die off in summer. Because during summer, the weather becomes hotter than they can bear. In other seasons, the damage can be everlasting if left untreated.
How to Get Rid of Mealybugs.
- Remove all mild infestation by dabbing infested areas with dilute alcohol.
- Avoid over-wetting and over-fertilization.
- In case of heavy infestation, apply high-power water hose to dust off the bugs.
- You can also spray neem oil or insecticidal soap as required.
- Wash plant leave with water on a regular basis to prevent future mealybug situation.
READ MORE: 8 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs.
FAQs About White bugs that look like lint.
- Can Little White Bugs That Look Like Lint Bite?
One thing is certain; not all lint-like bugs can bite humans. A good example of non-biting ones is an aphid. According to science, aphids prefer to suck flower nectars.
However, termites, grain mites, and dust mites have the ability to bite. Although, none of them consider humans the same way mosquitoes or bed bugs would. Instead, they only bite when they feel threatened. A great example is seen with the termite soldiers.
As for dust mites, they don’t actually bite. Instead, dust mites feed on dead skin cells that accumulate on bedclothes, furniture, rugs, and carpets.
According to Healthscience, every person sheds about 1.5 grams of dead skin cells per day. On this amount of skin cells, about one million dust mites would fill themselves to the brim. So, they simply lie in wait among clothing for humans to shed dead skin cells.
But even though they don’t bite, contact with dust mites can cause skin rashes, irritations, and rare allergic reactions. So, watch out!
- What Attracts White Mites?
Yellow colors are usually great attractants for white mites. This is why a bait of petroleum jelly inside a yellow plate can help capture them. Since petroleum jelly is sticky, the mites get trapped.
Other things like molds attract mold mites. As for grain mites, stored grains would do the job.
All in all, the most common lint-like bugs are whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, termites, grain mites, and dust mites. Of the six, aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies prefer to reside on outdoor plants.
But when we turn such infested plants into indoor potted plants, these white bugs become house pests. Since these sneaky white bugs look so much like lint, it’s usually very hard to spot an infestation. As such, getting rid of such tiny white bugs is not an easy task.