Several small brown bugs can infest your house, hiding under the baseboards and in other locations where they can be difficult to spot. Common pests include bed bugs and powderpost beetles. Learning to tell the difference between them is the first step in identifying which species you're having a problem with.
Bed Bug Description
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects with flattened bodies. They only grow to be about 3/16 inch long and feed on blood. Look for them in mattress seams, box springs and headboards, under loose wallpaper, behind light switch plates, in the seams of upholstered furniture and under carpeting near baseboards. Signs of their presence include dark spots and stains on mattresses, the molted skins of nymphs and rusty or reddish smears of blood on bed sheets. Bed bug bites appear as intensely itchy red welts, usually found on exposed skin like the face, neck and arms.
Bed Bug Control
Bed bug infestations happen when the pests are carried into a building on luggage, clothing, used furniture or other items. Because they're good at hiding in small places, they can be very hard to control. Professional help is often needed. Placing infested items like toys, shoes and clothing in a clothes dryer at medium to high heat for 10 to 20 minutes will kill bed bugs. Washable items like bedding and clothing should be cleaned in water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Other items that can't be washed or dried should be placed in a plastic bag and set in a hot, sunny location, like a closed vehicle, for at least 24 hours. The temperature must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Insecticidal sprays, dusts or aerosols should also be applied to all areas where bed bugs might hide.
Adult powderpost beetles are small dark brown or black beetles that grow between 1/8 and ¼ inch long. Larvae are grubs that tunnel through wood, reducing it to a fine powder. Powderpost beetles are one of the most destructive wood pests known, next to carpenter ants and termites. Powderpost beetles can be found in furniture, trim wood of cabinets and along baseboards.
Some powderpost beetles prefer damp wood so the first step to controlling this pest is to fix any moisture problems your house has. Once that's done, remove infested wood and replace it. Both existing wood and new wood should be treated with a residual insecticide to prevent additional infestations. Fumigation isn't recommended because it's expensive and doesn't provide long-term control. Instead, inspect your house yearly for powderpost beetles and other wood-damaging pests like termites.