Bites from mysterious bugs make you wonder “what’s biting me that I can’t see?”
It’s because not all biting bugs are as tiny, or noticeable, as fleas and bed bugs. Some are even tinier.
These little bugs that you can’t see are known as microscopic bugs. And they land up a big bite.
This guide will reveal nine microscopic bugs that bite and cause nasty itching.
Some of these bugs are also human parasites that not just cause discomfort, but also diseases.
In this post you’ll also find out how you get these bugs and the easy solutions to protect yourself from them and their bites.
And a lot more. Keep reading.
Microscopic Biting Bugs – What Are They?
An average pair of human eyes, without any visual aids, can’t see things that are less than 0.1 mm (0.003 inches or 100 microns) in size.
Microscopic bugs fall in the size range of 200 microns to 800 microns.
If don’t have extremely sharp eyesight then your eyes will miss out on noticing them.
Factors like the color of the surface they’re on, the surroundings, their numbers, their ability to camouflage, and lighting can totally obfuscate these bugs.
Some of these bugs’ bites appear in clusters, in a line, or far away from each other.
These microscopic bugs, which are known as arthropod pests that bite, can be dangerous too.
They drill themselves into your skin to live and breed. It leads not only to itchy and painful bite marks but also to a severe skin infection.
This condition of being parasitized by biting microscopic bugs is known as parasitosis.
Most microscopic bugs that bite infest human skin and clothing. But some don’t.
You’ll find out later in the guide how to protect yourself from microscopic bugs that bite.
For now, let’s find out what these microscopic bugs are.
List Of 9 Microscopic White Bugs That Bite
- Scabies Mites.
- Body Lice.
- Green Lacewing Larvae
- Straw Itch Mites
- Dust mites
- Rat Mites
- Bird Mites
- Yellow thrips
Let’s get into each of these bugs to find out how they can infest you and what are their sources.
Scabies Mites – Invisible Bugs That Look Like Lint And Bite
Sarcoptes Scabiei, or scabies mites, are whitish-brown and only half a millimeter long. These mites look like lint under a microscope and cause serious itchy bites. Scabies mites can also burrow in your skin, and cause a skin infection which is known as scabies.
But that’s an infestation rather than an infection.
It’s because scabies mites burrow in the outer layer of your skin and they breed and lay eggs underneath, just like how termites infest wood.
Before burrowing, these microscopic bugs bite on your skin. But they’re so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye.
That’s why you don’t see any sign of bugs even if you look at the bitten area at the very moment when they bite you.
The symptoms of scabies mites’ presence inside your skin take a long time, four to six weeks, to show up.
The symptoms are intense itching and pimples like rashes.
By looking at the symptoms, you might misinterpret them as symptoms of mosquito bites or acne.
But the most compelling evidence of scabies mites’ presence inside your skin is relentless itching.
And you’ll also see track-like burrows underneath your skin, which lead to rashes.
This condition of constant itching and presence of adult scabies mites and their eggs underneath your skin is known as scabies.
Once inside your skin, female scabies mites lay up to 10 to 25 eggs. If left untreated, newborn scabies will spread underneath your skin and multiply.
The most common body parts where scabies mites attack are webbing between your fingers, on your wrists, elbows, and knee folds, near the waistline, at the navel, genitals, neck, face, and palms.
At a time, there can be 10 to 15 mites scabies mites inside your skin.
To confirm scabies mites, doctors scrape the skin from the infected person and observe it under the microscope.
If scabies mites have infested the person, then doctors can easily spot adult scabies, their eggs, and fecal matters from the scraped skin.
But things can get worse.
The more sinister form of scabies is crust scabies which are also known as Norwegian scabies.
In this condition, tens of thousands of scabies burrow inside the human skin.
The eggs and overpopulation of scabies mites inside the skin make the skin appear as a crust.
Crust scabies is a very critical scabies infestation, and it’s highly contagious that needs immediate medical intervention to prevent an outbreak.
Scabies mites spread from skin to skin when a healthy person comes in contact with an infected person.
For example, sexual contact with a person with scabies, sharing personal items like clothes, towels, and bedsheets is why scabies mites spread from one person to another.
Scabies mites cannot fly or jump. They can only crawl.
Scabies mites have eight legs, and they use their mouth to dig a tunnel on your skin.
Crowded places, child and daycare centers, hospitals, and institutional care centers are prone to have scabies mites. In addition, given the weak immune system of the elderly, scabies mites can wreak havoc on them.
But, children, because of their soft skin, are also an easy target for scabies mites.
Pets can also have scabies.
But those mites, known as mange, that cause scabies in pets are ineffective on humans. Neither can they burrow in the human skin, nor can they survive on humans.
If you’ve been observing scabies symptoms like constant itching and rashes, go to the doctor asap.
Repeatedly itching on the infested portion creates open sores that lead to severe and dangerous bacterial skin infections known as impetigo.
Another microscopic mite is the hair follicle mite. These mites live in the hair follicles, and they’re harmless.
The worst that hair follicle mite can inflict on you is acne.
There’s one reason for this microscopic bug to exist, and that’s unhygienic living conditions.
Body lice infest and lay eggs on the seams of dirty clothes. Like bed bugs, body lice need to feed on human blood to survive.
But the best part is body lice are not associated with everyday living conditions.
You’ll find these microscopic biting bugs in utterly dirty places with crowded living conditions.
As per CDC, “In the US, you’ll find body lice infestations in homeless people who do not have access to clean living conditions, daily bathing, and clean clothes.”
Symptoms of body lice are intense itching and rash.
Plus, repeated biting by body lice on the skin causes the skin to thicken and discolor. This condition is known as vagabond disease.
Body lice infestation is unlikely to be on a hygienic person who bathes daily, has access to clean clothes, and has a clean living place.
An adult body louse is whitish-grey, has 6 legs, and only grows up to 4 mm in size. It only crawls on the human skin when it needs its blood meal to survive.
Post feeding, it moves back to the cloth where it hides.
The point to note is that the lice found on the head and scalp are head lice. Head lice are different from body lice.
Unhygienic living conditions caused by war, natural or artificial disasters, and civil unrest creates an ideal situation for the body lice to spread.
Under these unsanitary conditions, body lice also cause diseases, such as typhus and trench fever.
Body lice also spread through direct physical contact with people who have them or using personal items like the infected person’s clothing.
But body lice infestations in the US are limited to homeless people who don’t have access to basic hygiene like regular bathing, clean clothes, and clean living conditions.
In very rare cases, you’d notice tiny black bugs on skin in summer. These bugs are body lice.
They’ll latch onto you and on your clothing if you’ve been to an unhygienic dwelling in the summer months. Body lice will look like specks of tiny black bugs on your skin.
Not taking measures to get rid of them from your clothing and skin will cause severe bites from body lice.
Green Lacewing Larvae
Not typically white, but brownish-white, green lacewing larvae are microscopic worms that can bite humans.
The lacewing larvae, also known as aphid lions, resemble alligators but have pincers when observed under a magnifying glass.
It’s a beneficial larva in your garden and yard. It preys on pests that damage plants.
So, pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, and other soft-bodied pests. The green lacewing larvae also damage the eggs of these pests.
But they don’t shy away from biting humans.
After rains, the larvae can enter your home through the thin gaps and cracks on windows and walls.
And that’s the time when they can bite you because of lack of availability of food.
After biting, they can curl like a donut which is their natural reaction after biting. The lacewing larvae have hairy bristles on their bodies that can also cause itching if they crawl on you.
These tiny biting white worms can also be brown with white patches and spots on them.
Straw Itch Mites
Straw itch mites or hay mites are microscopic white biting mites that are present in hay or grains.
They’re also beneficial mites because they’re natural predators of stored-grain pests.
Cream colored and growing only up to 0.2 mm in length, these microscopic bugs are hardly visible.
But straw itch mites also bite humans. If you are in an area infested with straw itch mites, they’ll attempt to bite you.
Many people who work in grain houses and repositories get bites from these mites. And their bites are intensely itchy.
Bites from straw itch mites are primarily on the abdomen, back, and forearms. However, they’ll bite you on any exposed skin they can get access to.
They’ll bite multiple times, which will lead to the development of welts and itchy rashes on the skin.
Straw itch mites will inject their saliva containing toxins into your skin. That leads to the development of welts and itching.
Straw itch mites inject the toxin into their prey to paralyze them and to feed on them.
But in humans, the toxins don’t have any paralyzing effect. If straw itch mites bite you, then mixing a head lice shampoo with a body wash on the bitten area will soothe the itching and welts.
Also, please do not wear the clothes that you wore outdoors without washing them with hot water.
If you don’t wash them, then chances are these microscopic biting bugs might be latching onto your clothing, which will undoubtedly lead to more bites.
People sensitive to bug bites can experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when bitten by straw itch mites.
If you notice these symptoms, then it’d be best to see a doctor asap.
Chiggers – The Invisible Bug That Turns Yellow After Biting
Chiggers are tiny parasitic microscopic red bugs that bite humans, birds, and mammals.
They’re the larvae of mites belonging to the Trombiculidae family.
Chiggers are also known as berry bugs, harvest mites, red bugs, and scrub-itch mites.
Measuring only 1/150 inches (170 microns) in size, you’d need at least a robust magnifying glass, if not a microscope, to see the chiggers.
When chiggers are born, they’re either red or orange. On humans, they feed on the human skin.
After feeding, chiggers turn yellow or yellowish.
Chiggers’ body shape is oval, and it has six legs that make them effective crawlers.
Contrary to popular belief, Chiggers don’t burrow themselves under your skin. Nor do they suck your blood.
When chiggers bite your skin, it injects its saliva into your skin. The saliva breaks down the skin making your skin edible for them.
The bitten area of your skin will develop red welts with a white spot in the middle of the lump. You’ll face severe itching within hours of chiggers’ bite.
The itching gets worse if you don’t treat it, and it can last for weeks.
Do not repeatedly scratch the welts as it’ll lead to infection. Instead, use any itch-relieving lotion or balm on the itchy area and visit a doctor.
Chiggers are outdoor bugs and live in damp and shaded places in your yard or garden.
During the spring and summer months, it’s pretty common to find chiggers in shrubs, bushes, potted plants, and grass lawns.
Chiggers latch onto your skin when you walk in these places.
Once they’re onto you, they move to areas where clothing fits tightly onto your skin or where the skin is delicate and loose.
So, chiggers bite you on places around the waistline, genitals, ankles, in the folds of elbows and knees.
Chiggers don’t remain on your skin forever. After feeding, they fall off your skin.
So, chiggers can get into your house either by latching onto your clothes or by falling off your skin.
When they leave your skin, chiggers can fall off on your bed, couch, rugs, and carpet.
Chiggers will hide in these places and wait for their next meal.
So, if you’re wondering what’s biting you on your couch and you can’t see, chances are that those invisible bugs are chiggers.
But don’t confuse chiggers with clover mites.
Clover mites resemble chiggers because of the similarity and color. However, clover mites are nuisance pests in the house.
And clover mites don’t bite humans. But their presence in the house can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people.
Dust Mites – Microscopic White Bugs That Cause Itching And Allergies
You can barely see dust mites, especially when they’re in smaller numbers.
Growing only up to 1/100th of an inch in size, or 250 microns, dust mites are incredibly difficult to spot.
Like the chiggers, dust mites also feed on human skin.
But there’s a difference. Unlike the chiggers, dust mites don’t bite. It means that they don’t insert their mouthparts inside your skin to feed.
Dust mites feed on dry dead skin, which is known as dander, on your skin’s layer.
They need to be on your skin to feed. Dust mites can’t bite through your clothes to access your skin.
That feeding process causes intense itching. Additionally, the hairy bristles on their bodies cause rashes and welts on the skin.
Dust mites tend to become visible when their numbers increase in your home.
when their numbers increase, you’ll notice a white layer of dust on your couch, furniture, and even on furnishings like drapes and curtains.
Dust mites are one of those invisible bugs that give the most discomfort. Their feeding process on your skin causes intense itching.
Plus, the hairy bristles on their bodies can give you rashes and welts. And they’re a menace to sensitive people and people with asthma.
Dust mites can trigger allergic reactions in elderly, children, and in healthy adults who’re allergic to dust.
Rat mites are human biting mites that grow only up to 1/34 of an inch or 750 microns.
If you’ve a good eyesight, you may spot them like a tiny speck of black dust.
Rat mites are parasites on rats, mice, and rodents of all types. They latch onto their fur and feed on their blood.
But they can be present inside your home too. How?
Well, the rats and mice bring them to your home. And these human biting mites hide in the rat and mouse nest.
Even if the rodents die, or you remove a rat or mice infestation in your home, some or all rat mites may be left behind.
In the absence of their hosts, these rat mites will bite you to feed on your blood and to survive.
In the US, rat mites’ bites don’t spread any diseases. But their bites are extremely itchy and cause severe skin irritation.
We always recommend removing the rat or mice nests and cleaning the nesting place with disinfectant to eliminate any chances of rat mites in home.
Both rat mites and bird mites are of similar sizes. The actual size of bird mite is 1/32 of an inch or 793 microns.
Bird mites are parasites on birds.
They’ll latch onto the bird’s feathers to feed on their blood. Bird mites are also present in bird nests feeding on the blood of the hatchlings.
Bird mites are quite dangerous to hatchlings of barn swallows.
Along with swallow bugs, bird mites inflict serious blood deficiency and even death to the barn swallow hatchlings.
Bird mites are a big problem in apartments and homes in big cities, like NYC, where there are many pigeons.
When you get rid of bird nests in your property, these human biting mites fall off the nests and hide in homes.
And like other tiny biting bugs, like the bed bugs and fleas, which are parasites on humans, bird mites will feed on your blood in absence of their hosts.
Both rat mites and bird mites can track you to your bed while you’re asleep. They do it by picking up the carbon dioxide that exhale.
That’s why it’s important to clean the nesting sites of the birds.
Scattering residual insecticides and then cleaning the area with a disinfectant is the best way to eliminate bird mites left over in the nesting site.
Yellow Thrips – Microscopic Yellow Bugs In Your Garden That Bite
Thrips are tiny yellow bugs that can bite humans. From yellow to black, there are many different colors of thrips in nature.
The yellow ones are the tiniest, and they’re known as Frankliniella Occidentalis.
These tiny thrips are plant bugs and grow up to 1/50th of an inch long. You may notice them, if you’ve got a good eyesight.
Yellow thrips inject their sharp mouth parts inside the leaves and the leaves’ veins to suck out the sap.
That causes the plants to lose vitality. When the yellow thrips’ numbers increase, they can cause intense damage to your plants.
Signs of damages on plants ranges from yellowfication of the leaves to the leaves withering off.
Yellow thrips are active in the hot and humid months. And they’re active in warmer states like Texas and Florida.
These tiny yellow bugs bite humans accidentally. When thrips land on you, they probe your skin with their mouth to find out if you’re it’s food or not.
On realizing that you’re not a plant matter they can’t feed, thrips drop off your body.
Thrips don’t inject anything inside you when they bite. You can get bite marks that are similar to rashes and lumps.
Solution For Invisible Biting Bugs
The solution for invisible biting bugs are four. These are –
- Cleanliness in and around your home.
- Controlling the dampness or moisture levels in and around your home.
- Maintaining good personal hygiene and bathing regularly.
- Not wearing clothes and using fabrics like towels of a person who is suffering from intense itching.
- Not letting dirty clothes and linen sit around for days and washing them asap.
- Using bug repelling light bulbs in the outdoors section like in patio and near swimming pool.
Though these bugs leave itchy welts and bites, the process of getting rid of them isn’t rocket science.
Maintaining cleanliness and controlling moisture in your home and property denies food supply and hiding places to these bugs.
And knowing the months when they’re active and breed is also essential.
It’s because many of them sneak inside your home through open doors, windows, and through thin cracks and gaps on the walls.
During the months when these bugs are active, it’s always a good idea to use window shields with fine meshes and weather stripping to close the gaps in the doors and windows.
Sealing off the cracks and gaps on the walls, windows, and doors with a durable and robust sealant, like silicon-based sealant, denies these bugs entry to your home.
Keep your yard or garden clean and keep them free from pests and bugs.
If you don’t maintain it well, your yard can be an epicenter of invasive and destructive pests like cockroaches, ants, and termites.
Ensure that there’s no waterlogging in your yard, no piling up of organic debris, there’s no trash lying in the trash bins for days, and most importantly, there are no bugs and pests in the soil bed, firewood pile, and mulch layer.
You’ve got loads of options to protect yourself from the bites of these invisible biting bugs.
Some of them are essential oils, diatomaceous earth, and over-the-counter antiseptics to treat the bug bites.
The vital thing to remember is that some people, especially children and the elderly, can display allergic reactions when these microscopic bugs bite them.
These allergic reactions can range from running nose, burning red eyes, coughing, and sneezing.
In these cases, it’d be best to consult a physician asap.
Maintaining good hygiene, washing your clothes regularly, and regular bathing eliminate these microscopic bugs in your clothes and skin.
Are Bed Bugs Microscopic?
A size of an adult bed bug is between 5mm to 7mm (3/16 – 1/4 inch long). That size is equivalent to 5000 microns to 7000 microns.
Bed bugs are oval-shaped, reddish-brown, and flat like an apple seed if they didn’t have a blood meal.
After blood meals, bed bugs become darker, elongated, and a bit inflated too.
So, given the criteria of being microscopic, which is 200 microns to 800 microns, bed bugs are not microscopic bugs.
Baby bed bugs, and bed bugs belonging to different instar levels before they molt into adults, are also not microscopic.
The baby bed bugs, which are the tiniest of bed bugs, are 2500 microns.
But baby bed bugs (or nymphs) can be hard to spot because they’re translucent, white, and they can easily mix up with white or light-colored bedsheets.
The nine microscopic bugs that bite –
- Scabies mites
- Body lice
- Green lacewing larvae
- Straw Itch mites
- Dust mites
- Rat mites
- Bird mites
- Yellow Thrips
Other biting bugs like bed bugs, fleas, and ticks are not microscopic bugs because they’re easily visible. And their sizes don’t fall into the category of being microscopic.
However, baby bed bugs, which also bite, can be classified as microscopic because of their size and they’re extremely difficult to spot, especially on a white bedsheet.
Scabies mites and body lice are parasitic bugs on humans. These bugs are more commonly associated with unhygienic living conditions.