Bugs That Look Like Dust: Identifying the Tiny White or Brown Bugs

Some bugs are so small they look like dust, making them difficult to notice even when they’re climbing up your walls and crawling across your floor or if they end up on your plants. These tiny white bugs that look like dust could be harmful to your health and that’s why it is important to identify and exterminate them.

Common white household bugs that look like dust include dust mites, booklice, mold mites, plaster bagworms, and assassin bugs. Some of these appear to be tiny & white, brown, or grey in color – just like dust particles can be.

Let’s find out just how harmful these microscopic bugs are, and how you can get rid of them.

Are there bugs that are as tiny as dust particles?

Yes- some household bugs are so tiny that they appear like dust to the naked eye. What’s more, some microscopic bugs use dust camouflage as a survival tactic, hence the brown appearance.

These bugs are usually too small to see floating around, but their movement across your dustpan may put you on notice.

Small White Bugs that Look Like Dust (In the Air)

According to a recent study, the average household is home to over 100 different arthropod species. Of these, a good number are so physically minuscule that they’re barely visible to the naked eye.

These include dust mites, booklice, mold mites, assassin bugs, and plaster bugworms. Below, we’ll identify the tiny insects and help you get rid of them in your house.

Dust Mites

Bugs that look like dust - dust mites

Dust mites are arguably the most common microscopic household bugs out there. They like to feed on the dead skin of the humans and pets that live in the house. Dust mites measure about 0.2-millimeters, and are barely visible to the naked human eye.

Since dust mites feed on dead skin flakes that are ever-dropping and available in abundance, they excrete at a high rate too. The problem with this is that their excrement usually triggers severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks in people suffering from these conditions.

Humans and pets are constantly shedding skin, which is why it’s impossible to totally eliminate dust mites from your home.

However, you can control the number of dust mites within your house by regularly cleaning the floor. Alternatively, you can try to dehumidify your rooms, since dust mites thrive in humid climates. Lysol can also help in killing dust mites.


what does booklice look like?

This one might conjure up old memories of your dad’s dusty, musty basement study room and the stacked bookshelves within. Booklice are those tiny bugs that you sometimes find between the pages of old, mold-laden books. They prefer to feed on mold and mildew fungi.

Since mold thrives in dark and humid habitats, you’ll typically find them growing in between the pages of the books on a basement bookshelf. And rest assured that booklice will always follow them there!

You can identify booklice by their brown/tan appearance, soft body texture, and ‘dust-grain’ size. Some booklice species also spot wings. These bugs won’t be a problem if they stay on your bookshelf, but once they sprawl over to your kitchen shelves, they’ll start feeding on stored food grain. Apart from mold and mildew fungi, booklice also feed on the starch present in food grains.

To prevent booklice from feeding on your stored cereal grains, clean up your kitchen pantry to clear off specks of grain that might attract them. You should also use a vacuum cleaner or shop vac that is able to suck up these tiny bugs from your floor and crevices in your bookshelves.

Mold Mites

what do Mold Mites look like

Mold mites are tiny bugs that feed on mold fungi around the house. You’ll typically find them in hot and humid areas in the house. You can prevent mold mite infestations by discouraging the factors that facilitate the growth of indoor mold. This could include dehumidifying the rooms. To do this, turn on your HVAC system, or use a room dehumidifier.

Assassin bugs

what do Assassin Bugs look like

This insect is a bit unique from the others on this list, as it uses dust particles as a camouflage tool when hunting prey. This gives off the illusion of a dust particle. Appearance-wise, assassin bugs are just a tad bit larger than a grain of dust and brown in color. You can control assassin bugs by regularly cleaning up their preferred hiding spots. What’s more, regular cockroach insecticides are usually effective on assassin bugs as well.

Plaster Bagworms

what do Plaster Bagworms look like

In terms of appearance, plaster bagworms are greyish in color. You can also identify adult ones by their brown heads. Plaster bagworms are also about the same size and shape as a watermelon seed- and are just as flat. Typically, they measure between 0.25- and 0.5 inches.

Plaster bagworms thrive in hot and humid conditions and feed on spider webs and wool. You’re- therefore- likely to spot them hiding out within your closet as well. Just like moths, plaster bagworms can cause extensive damage to your woolen clothing.

To prevent this from happening, you should regularly clean your walls and closets to get rid of spider webs. Since they thrive in hot and humid areas, you should also dehumidify your rooms and turn on your AC often to cool the air. Meanwhile, you can get rid of plaster bagworms by knocking them off the walls and sweeping them off the floor.

Small White Bugs That Look Like Dust On Plants (Identification)

There are a few bugs that look like dust that end up on houseplants. The most common ones are listed below.


what do Mealybugs look like (white dust on houseplants)

This dust-looking bug can appear either white and fluffy or brown depending on what stage of growth it is in. Regardless of the stage, you don’t want these living on your houseplants. These usually come on pretty strong and will do damage to your plant’s leaves and stems by feasting on the sap, thus promoting the yellowing of leaves and stunted leaf growth.

Once you see Mealybugs you need to get rid of these little white devils as soon as possible so that they don’t take over your plant and kill it. Before Mealybugs are in the adult stage, they will appear brown before turning white dusty and fluffy looking which will do the damage to the plant leaves.

If you have Mealybugs you will want to quarantine the affected plant and use an organic pesticide made for houseplants. You can find those at Lowes or Home Depot.

White Spider Mites

White Spider Mites identification

These mites are so small it’s hard to tell that it’s a bug at all, this is why many people mistake it for dust on their houseplants. However, White Spider Mites are easy to identify as they spin a silky web between the leaves and stalks in houseplants. You may think you have spiders but if you see these white fine-looking mites mingled in the web then you will know you have White Spider Mites. If you do you’ll want to rid them from your houseplant asap using neem oil.

Will cleaning dust get rid of the bugs?

While a regular cleaning routine that involves mopping and vacuum cleaning will easily get rid of some of these bugs (including booklice and assassin bugs), others are not so easy to get rid of by cleaning. Dust mites- for instance- will keep coming back no matter how regularly or thoroughly you clean your house. This is because daily droppings of dead skin flakes provide them with an ever-present source of food.

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