A Guide to Identifying Small Brown Bugs in Your House


Small brown bugs come in many species, sizes, and shapes. Not only do they transmit diseases, but they can also damage your property. Some may invade your lawn area while inviting themselves inside your house, putting your family and pets in danger. Successful extermination of these bugs begins with accurate identification. Here is a guide to help you identify the bugs that could be invading your house.

To ensure you accurately identify the bugs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • 1. What does the bug eat? Some prefer feasting on plants, while others could prefer human blood.
  • 2. What’s its scientific name?
  • 3. Which traits or behaviors does the bug have?
  • 4. Does it prefer staying indoors or outdoors?
  • 5. Does it sting or bite?

These are the questions to ask.

1. Drugstore Beetles (Stegobium paniceum)


  • Not more than 0.13 inches in length
  • Oval body with a hard shell
  • Six legs
  • Wings
  • Two antennae

Drugstore beetles, also called biscuit beetles, are tiny brown bugs with wings and a compacted shell. According to the Alabama A & M & Auburn Universities, drugstore beetles like to live and breed drugstore-like places like the kitchen pantry, warehouses, restaurants. You will find them hiding inside packets of cereals, bread, flour, and other dried food products. They also don’t mind hiding in crevices, cracks, or seams on the floor of shipping containers and vehicles. Drugstore larvae thrive inside dried and stored products. They can feed on animal or plant products. Once they become adults, they fly or crawl out of their hiding places. You may also notice them flying around sources of light in the bathroom, bedroom, living room, and office. While adult drugstore beetle’s presence in your house is an eyesore, they are harmless to humans, animals, and property. Should you notice an adult drugstore bug flying in your home, then be very worried as they come to lay their eggs in your pantry. The larval stage is the most destructive because it feeds directly on your food.

2. American Spider Beetle (Mezium americanum)


  • Tiny reddish-brown
  • Six light-brown colored legs
  • 0.06-0.13 inches in length
  • Oval shaped

The American spider beetle is another pantry pest. It feeds on dry and stored food products like flour, bread, cereals, and cacao. If these products are unavailable, they won’t have a problem munching on paper, wool, silk, or feathers. Like the drugstore beetle, the larvae of these beetles are the most destructive because they live and feed on food products.

3. Carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci)


  • A hard yellow-green-brown shell
  • 0.08 inches long
  • Six legs
  • Two antennae
  • Prefers feeding on pollen and nectar

As the name suggests, the carpet beetle is a small brown bug hiding under carpets. When left uncontrolled, its larvae can cause a lot of damage to your home or property. It has a hard shell and measures 0.08 inches in length. According to Leafy Place, the carpet beetle prefers laying its eggs near the food source. The beetles will feed on pollen or nectar if plants on your lawn. They can also make fibers such as cotton, wool, silk, or leather as their alternative food sources. You will know they’ve invaded your home upon noticing tiny holes in your carpet or clothes.

4. Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius)


  • Flat and oval-shaped
  • Reddish-brown
  • 0.2-0.27 inches long

Perhaps one of the most annoying bugs of all time is the bedbug. This reddish-brown bug prefers living and laying its eggs in the crevices of bed frames, mattresses, box springs, and behind headboards. They like to feed on their hosts at night when they’re dead asleep. Identifying that you have bedbugs is pretty simple; you will notice itchy bite marks on your neck, arms, face, and hands. They also have a near-rotting smell. You will see small blood marks on your clothes and bedsheets. However, seeing them in broad daylight is daunting because they’re nocturnal. Though they don’t transmit any diseases, their bites can be annoying. Unfortunately, controlling these true bugs is tricky. They can easily invite themselves to your home through your suitcase from the hotel room. The best prevention strategy is avoiding places that have already been reported to be infested with these bugs.

5. Brown Bat Bugs (Myotis lucifugus)


  • 0.23 inches long
  • Brown
  • Flat and oval-shaped

Brown bat bugs are flat, and oval-shaped bugs like to feed on bats. They also prefer human blood as an alternative food source. It’s difficult to differentiate bat bugs from bedbugs. However, bat bugs increase in size and change their color to red upon feeding on blood. While they don’t carry diseases, their bites can annoy you, leaving you irritated. Brown bat bugs and bedbugs are true relatives who share many things in common. However, their physical characteristics and food preference are what differentiates them. For example, bedbugs prefer beds, headboards, and other furniture so they can be near their human host. On the other hand, Brown bat bugs live in attics or basements where bats also live. They survive by sucking on the bat’s blood.

6. Assassin Bugs (family Reduviidae)


  • Range from 5-40mm
  • Three-segmented beaks
  • Black-to-dark brown

According to Rob Dun Lab, assassin bugs are true predatory bugs. They have three-segmented beaks and large front legs for piercing and strong biting force. When they land on a host, they’ll use the first tip of the beak to jab the host, use their legs to hold on to their host, and dig their beaks inside the host. It isn’t easy spotting them because they camouflage themselves. These true bugs come in different lengths, from 5-40mm. Though they’re considered beneficial insects, they won’t hesitate to bite any human or animal attacking them. A single bite from one of its group members (Triatominae) can cause Chagas disease in animals. Some assassin bug species may also look unprovocative as they creep around spider webs where they feed on them.

7. Weevils (Curculionidae)


  • Dark brown
  • Long snouts
  • Length not longer than 0.23 inches

Weevils belong to the family of Curculionidae, and are also called snout beetles. They are one of the largest coleopteran families, with almost 60,000 species to their name. They rely on their long snouts (elbow-shaped mouths) to feed cereals. Alternatively, most of their larvae and adults like to feed on flowering shrubs and plants. The maximum length for which they can grow is 0.23 inches. While they don’t feed on humans and animals, they can be nuisances. They are mostly attracted to light and prefer stored products, making your home a perfect hideout spot for them. Some bore into wood and may damage healthy trees.

8. Fruit Flies (Drosophila melanogaster)


  • Between 0.1 and 0.15 inches in length
  • Dark brown

Fruit flies are dark-brown pests that you see hovering around your home. Some experts call them “vinegar flies” because they get attracted to fermented things. Adult vinegar flies target areas where their larvae and yeasts feed on them. You may notice them flying around ripe fruits, compost bins, and garbage cans. Even though fruit/vinegar flies don’t bite humans or animals, their habit of devouring rotten foods can put your household at risk of disease transmission. The best way of dealing with them is putting away anything that attracts them. That also means disposing of any fruits or foods you don’t intend to eat.

9. Cockroaches (family Blattidae)


  • Reddish-brown
  • Flat and oval-shaped
  • Six spiny legs
  • Two antennae
  • Hard shell
  • 1.6 inches in length

Cockroaches are reddish-brown bugs with a hard shell. Their species have a flat body, long antennae, and crawl or fly. Their flat bodies allow them to hide in door hinges, corners of your kitchen cabinet, and other dark areas where you can’t see them until you turn on the lights at night. Common species include:

· The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

It is a cockroach with a reddish-brown flattened body, measuring 1.6 inches in length. Its six legs are spiny and have two antennae. Though it crawls, it can fly short distances to flee from its predator or enemy.

· The common cockroach (Blattella germanica)

It is reddish-brown with a slender oval body, measuring 0.6 inches in length.

· The brown cockroach (Periplaneta brunnea)

The brown cockroach closely resembles its American relative, but the only difference is the former is smaller. It’s also darker than American cockroaches.

· The brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa)

The brown-banded cockroach is the lightest of all the cockroaches on this list. However, it has dark brown bands across its wings. Cockroaches can easily transmit diseases when left uncontrolled. They show up uninvited, even to a clean house. Using an insecticide might eliminate them for a while, but they will keep coming back if their eggs are still intact. Doing that also exposes you to hazardous toxins that can affect your health. The only solution to controlling them is calling a pest extermination expert to apply the right cockroach control techniques.

10. Pillbugs (Armadillidiidae)


  • A hard shell
  • Dark-brown-to-black
  • Length measuring between 0.25 inches and 0.5 inches
  • Seven pairs of legs

Your home and landscape are a perfect habitat for pillbugs. These brownish-gray bugs prefer mulched gardens and flowerbeds. Over the years, pillbugs have fed harmlessly on decaying vegetable leftovers in and out of the soil. In periods of high rainfall, they can become a menace because their feeding habits can destroy houseplants. The best way to eliminate pillbugs is to destroy their breeding and hiding places. Its larvae and adult thrive best in moist places like lawns. However, they can still invite themselves inside your house to feed on stored vegetable matter. Get rid of mowed grass clippings and mulch. If you have a flowerbed or kennel, find a way of elevating it to prevent water from pooling underneath it.

The steps to take when identifying small brown bugs in your home

According to PestWorld, The United States hosts about 90,000 arthropod species. Some share similar traits, making it daunting to identify which one has invaded your home. The trick to identifying a small brown bug starts by studying its feeding pattern, physical characteristics, habitat, and prevalence. Here is a six-step-by-step guide for identifying the bugs:

Step 1: Note down its traits

Bugs vary by shape, size, color, number of legs, wings, antennae. The first thing you can do is trap at least one and note down its traits.

Step 2: Find the category that best mimics the appearance of the bug you’ve noted in Step 1

The internet contains bug identifier tools that provide vast information combined with photos of such bugs, helping you match the pest characteristics you’ve identified.

Step 3: Pest characteristics’ comparison

Using the photos you’ve pinpointed, compare the bug you have at hand with the one in the photo.

Step 4: Research further about the bug’s characteristics

Do your due diligence on the bug’s feeding habits, habitats, signs of infestation, and prevention and control measures.

Step 5: Contact licensed bug extermination professional

No matter how informed you are about bug extermination, it’s not advisable to go alone. Using insecticides and pesticides can cause health risks and should only be applied through a licensed bug control expert.

Step 6: Explore alternative measures

According to the University of Maryland Extension, some bugs may be too complicated to identify, leaving you frustrated. Keep in mind that the appropriate bug control solutions should target adult bugs and their eggs and larvae or nymphs. So, if you’re unsure about the bug in question, consider calling a pest control professional for assistance. The bug control expert will most likely come with tools and resources for accurately identifying the bug.


Common household bugs vary depending on your location and living standards. Most of them invite themselves to your home as long as there is a reliable food source. Some will even thrive in the cleanest of houses, provided there’s something they’re targeting. Identifying them starts by trapping one to compare its characteristics with the information you’ve gathered. Once you’ve known which bug you’re dealing with, it’s necessary to apply the right control measures through the guidance of a pest control expert.

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