When dust begins to crawl, you know you’re dealing small white dust-like bugs that can trigger allergic reactions and damage plants.
I’ve made the mistake of dismissing these little white bugs as specks of dust and lint.
But you shouldn’t.
I found out the hard way that these tiny white bugs that look like dust and lint pose serious threats.
I delved deep to find out what these white bugs look like and what are their origins.
I also learned, through a lot of trial and error, how to eliminate these white bugs.
So, if you want to cut the chase and save time and effort, then keep reading to know it all.
Dust mites are white dust-like arachnids that are infamous for triggering allergies in humans.
They’re microscopic bugs. So, they’re invisible to the naked eye, especially when they’re in smaller numbers.
A dust mite’s size is between 0.25 mm and 0.33 mm, making them difficult to spot individually.
However, they accumulate on damp surfaces in the home and appear as whitish dusty layer.
Dust mites survive by soaking in the moisture from the damp surfaces.
They’re also feeders on human skin. Dust mites eat the dry dead skin cells, which are also known as dander.
They hide in bed mattresses, carpets, and couches too to have easy access to their skin.
Dust mites don’t bite humans. But their feeding on the skin causes an itchy sensation.
Red welts and rashes appear on the skin, appearing as bed bug bites.
Dust mites can be active year-round. But their activities peak during the warmer days of the year.
Unfortunately, it’s quite impossible to get rid of dust mites. I learned it the hard way.
Only preventative measures work on dust mites.
Regularly vacuum cleaning the bed mattress, upholstered furniture, and soft furnishings such as carpets, rugs, curtains, and drapes removes dust mites in them.
Dust mites can also get into closets and dresser drawers.
So, washing the fabric or clothes with hot water is essential to get rid of dust mites in them.
Grain mites are pantry pests that can have a white dust-like appearance. These pests infest foods like stored grains and flour.
The average size of grain mites is between 0.33 mm and 0.43 mm (0.013 to 0.017 inches). Being so small, they too are difficult to spot.
Unfed grain mites are white. And they camouflage well with flour and rice grains.
But after feeding, they turn brownish.
The presence of grain mites in food turns the food stale.
The food develops a yellowish-brown layer, indicating that grain mites have infested it.
Grain mites in the foods spillover from the food storage jars and end up on the pantry shelves and kitchen counters.
When they do, grain mites appear as dusty layer.
Experts call this layer mite dust.
Grain mites enter homes when you buy food packets with grain mites present in them.
Big grocery stores and grain warehouse always have pantry pests problem such as flour beetles and grain mites.
Grain mites can also trigger allergic reactions such as coughing, sneezing, and running noses.
If you’re facing these reactions after a visit to your kitchen, then chances are you’re having a grain mites problem.
I got rid of drain mites by giving my kitchen a thorough cleaning.
I also put the flour and grains in the freezer to kill any grain mites in them.
I didn’t throw away the food though because after reading this article I realized that it’s safe to consume foods that had grain mites.
I bet that you must have noticed tiny white specks of dust on pieces of damp wood or furniture.
Thankfully, those are not wood eating termites. They’re wood mites.
Wood mites feed on the molds that form on the surface of moist woods.
That’s why it’s common to find them on pieces of garden furniture, damp windowsills, firewood, and on wood pieces lying around in damp areas such as basement.
Wood mites are tiny, but not invisible bugs like grain mites or dust mites.
A wood mite grows between 0.09 and 0.12 inches and appears as clear white dust specks on the wood.
Wood mites are harmless. They pose no threat to humans and pets.
The best part is it’s easy to eliminate them.
As white vinegar kills wood mites, so you can get rid of them by giving your wooden piece a wipe with a cloth soaked in white vinegar.
However, it’s essential that you don’t allow the wood to turn damp.
To do that, you’ll need to control the leaky pipes and any water leakages that are causing the dampness in wood.
Like wood mites, mold mites too feed on the molds and fungi on the moist objects.
But the difference is that mold mites can infest any damp object like wood, walls, floor, moist decaying organic matter, and even fabric.
Mold mites can come in different colors, including white, black, gray, and brownish. They’re borderline invisible because of their 0.3 mm (0.012 inches) size.
The white ones are dust-like and come across like a dusty layer on the damp surface. In contrast, the gay ones appear as a layer of gray dust.
Mold mites feed on the molds, fungi, and mildew that form on wet surfaces. And these mites multiply at sky rocketing speed.
In a normal room temperature, coupled with ample amount of humidity in the house, mold mites become a big problem.
Like dust mites, molds too can cause allergies. Mold mites molt as they grow. It means they shed their old exoskeleton while they’re growing.
These shed skins can get suspended in the air and enter the respiratory systems triggering allergies. This is something similar to dust mites molting and causing allergies.
Mold mites have hairy bristles on their bodies that can cause itching if they crawl on your skin.
Controlling the humidity levels of the house is critical to prevent mold mites.
I did it by installing a dehumidifier and by fixing the water leakages from the sink drains, shower drains, and faucets.
The best part is getting rid of mold mites is pretty straightforward.
Removing the molds with a mold cleaner or with a hot soapy water solution kills the drain mites.
But old homes with damp walls and furniture will have persistent mold mites problem if they’re not repaired.
Clothes Moth Larvae
The adult cloth moth is a sneaky flying bug. It sneaks inside the house and targets your clothes in the closet and dresser drawers to lay eggs.
It abhors light, so, it remains hidden in the cloth piles till it’s through doing her bit before flying away.
Therefore, spotting an adult cloth moth, which is a beige color moth with wings resting in tent shape will it’s stationary, is quite a challenge.
However, it’s not the adult cloth moth that is the culprit. It’s the larvae of the clothes moths.
The larva starts out as a whitish yellow worm with a dot-like head.
But this creepy worm feeds on the fabric, especially on the expensive ones made from wool, silk, cotton, feathers, and fur.
As it feeds, it makes a case that it drags along with itself. This case gathers it’s feces and the fabric’s lint, making it appear as pile of dust crawling along.
Despite looking exotic, the clothes moth larvae inflict severe damage on expensive clothing and furnishings such as carpets and rugs made from natural fibers.
Their damage is in the form of chewed holes and fecal deposit.
The larvae also show up on your bed to feed. That’s why many people call them as bed worms when they notice them on the bed.
But the clothes moth larvae don’t bite humans.
The best way to get rid of clothes moth larvae is your vacuum cleaner. Use it scoop it off the surface.
But you’ll also need to inspect and clean your clothing storage sections too to eliminate any of these larvae inside them.
Keeping repellants like cedar balls, moth balls, and storing your expensive clothes in casings prevents the adult cloth moths from laying eggs in the fabric storage areas.
Booklice are tiny moisture bugs that survive solely on the molds and mildew.
They’re soft-bodied, with an oblong shaped body, and they’re 1-2 mm in size. Booklice color ranges from clear white to light brown.
Booklice enter homes from the outdoors.
When the weather outdoors becomes too hot or dry, these tiny white bugs run out of moisture and food sources.
That’s the time when they sneak inside the house looking for dampness.
The cracks on the walls and windowsills are the common entry points of booklice.
However, they can also enter homes by latching onto old cardboard boxes, books, and furniture.
Booklice inside the house will gravitate towards damp areas such as bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.
However, these mold-eating bugs will be visible in any moldy place.
So, booklice will target your walls, floor, furniture and even fabric with molds.
Booklice also targets old books, clumpy newspaper piles, and magazines. Old paper products form molds which attract these damp bugs.
Booklice are harmless bugs. They don’t bite. They’re often confused with head lice or body lice but they’re not.
Vacuum cleaning, removing the molds, and lowering down the dampness levels of your house are keys to prevent booklice.
One thing to note is that booklice can also be pantry pests. These bugs will target grains such as rice with molds on them.
Moisture spreads into the stored foods in a damp kitchen.
So, if your kitchen is damp, then booklice will infest your stored grains in your kitchen pantry and cupboards.
White booklice look like small white dusty particles. And they’re often confused with many other tiny bugs such as bed bugs or baby roaches.
Springtails come in different colors such as black, brown, white, and even in metallic green and blue.
Springtails live in decaying organic wastes and on wet soil beds. They feed on the molds and algae that form in these areas.
White springtails in these areas look like white dust sprinkled all over the surface.
Springtails, no matter what color they’re, are jumping bugs.
These bugs have a spring-like organ, which is known as furcula, tucked under their abdomen.
They use the furcula to jump while moving from one place to another or to escape predators.
Springtails are long shaped with a pair of visible antennae. They’ve got six legs and they grow up to 1/16 inches in size.
Springtails can sneak inside the house. They’ll look for moist areas.
So, bathroom and basement are the common areas they’ll gravitate towards.
However, these bugs can accidentally show up in dry areas, such as living room and bedroom, in the house.
Springtails are harmless bugs, and they don’t bite. You can use an insecticide dust or spray to get rid of them.
However, in most cases, scooping them off with a vacuum cleaner and sealing their entry points are enough to eliminate and prevent springtails in the house.
Now we’re moving into the domain of plant pests. And mealybugs are plant pests that appear like white lint or cottony lumps on the plants.
Mealybugs are sap bugs, which means that they draw out the plants’ sap. They gather on the undersides of leaves and branches in groups appearing as a pile of lint.
Too many mealybugs make your plants weak, and they hinder the plants growth too.
The lint-like appearance is because of the wax secretion. They secrete the white waxy substance to protect themselves from predators.
Mealybugs are active during the warm periods of the year. They target a wide range of plants including ornamental plants and green houses.
Mealybugs grow up between 1/20 and 1/5 inches in size.
These bugs become stationary after they mature into adults. They remain hooked in the plants and appear as a pile of white lint.
A strong spray of soapy water or hydrogen peroxide on the plants is good enough to dislodge the mealybugs from the plants. These liquids also kill the mealybugs.
However, you might have to use insecticide dust if there are too many of them on the plants.
Woolly aphids are white fluff-like bugs that target a wide range of plants including fruit trees.
These bugs are also sap bugs. And their cotton or wool-like appearance has gained them names such as fairy flies, snow bugs, and cotton fairies.
The white fluff-like woolly appearance is because of the waxy substance that woolly aphids secrete.
Woolly aphids appear as a bunch of white lint on plants.
Some species of woolly aphids also have wings, so they can also enter homes and target indoor plants too.
A heavy infestation of woolly aphids makes plants weak. And the infection appears as yellow leaves and stunted plant growth.
Woolly aphids grow between 1/12 and 1/8 inches in size and they’re snowy white.
Soapy water spray, horticultural oils, and insecticide dust eliminate woolly aphids from plants.
However, don’t forget to quarantine the infected plants before treating them for woolly aphids.
White Spider Mites
White spider mites are also sap bugs like the woolly aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs. But they’re arachnids and they’re extremely tiny.
Their tiny size and their habit of hiding underneath the plants’ leaves makes them difficult to spot.
White spider mites grow up to 1/20 inches in size and they’re oval-shaped with eight legs, resembling tiny white spiders.
These mites target the leaves’ undersides to feed on the leaves’ sap. And they can inflict heavy damage on the plants.
The yellowing and curling of leaves are the signs of spider mite infestation. To check for spider mites, check the leaves’ undersides.
You might notice tiny white dust-like bugs crawling on the leaves. Another sign that you can’t miss is the silky webs that spider mites spin on plants.
Spider mites don’t just limit themselves to outdoor plants. They can be a threat to indoor plants and greenhouse plants too.
Spider mites profusely breed in room temperature.
And when there are too many of them on the indoor plants, they can spread out to places like your bed and bedroom.
The best part is spider mites don’t bite humans.
You can get rid of white spider mites on plants with the help of a soapy water spray.
A firm soapy water spray, preferably from a hose, dislodges white spider mites from the plants.
Another white plant pest that looks like dust is the whiteflies. These are tiny white moth-like flies that flock on the plants’ leaves.
Just like the woolly aphids and mealy bugs, whiteflies also secrete white waxy substance from their glands that cover their bodies.
This waxy layer gives them a white dust-like look.
Whiteflies are triangular shaped flies with a pair of fully developed wings.
Their wings are in the tent-shape while they’re at rest. The size of whiteflies is between 1/16 and 1/10 inches including their wingspan.
Whiteflies are also sap bugs that feed on the plants’ sap. Their presence weakens the plants, and an over-infestation of these flies can lead to the demise of the plants.
These waxy bugs (woolly aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies) produce honeydew. The honeydew is sweet and yellowish, and it attracts bugs like ants and wasps to the plants.
When the honeydew solidifies, it turns into a black sooty mold which is also harmful for the plants.
Whiteflies are strong fliers. And they can also move into the house and infest indoor plants.
When you rattle a plant with whiteflies on it, these flies take off in swarms for a while before settling down.
White flies bite people while they’re working in their garden.
But whiteflies’ bites are harmless. And their bites don’t cause much discomfort.
Those bites are only interrogatory bites to figure out if the thing they landed on is a plant or not.
Horticultural oils, 3% hydrogen peroxide solution spray, and soapy water spray remove whiteflies from the plants.
You can also invite beneficial predators, such as lacewings, dragonflies, and ladybugs, to your garden to control and limit the spread of whiteflies.
Thrips are tiny long slender bugs on plants. They’ve got long narrow fringed wings.
Growing only up to 1/20th of an inch in size, thrips can be hard to detect when their numbers are low.
However, their numbers shoot up pretty fast during the warm periods of the year.
Most thrips range in color from translucent-white to yellowish. But there are thrips that are also brown and black. Some of them can be bright red too.
Thrips are plant pests that feed on the plant’s sap.
Their feeding cause indelible scar on the plant’s leaves and distorted growth on the plants.
They can target a wide range of plants such as avocado plants, vegetable plants, and even ornamental plants.
So, controlling their population at the early stages of the breakout is vital.
You can do it by using plant-safe insecticide sprays, neem oil spray, and horticultural oil.
Expert gardeners believe that pruning the plants off the infected leaves and stems also helps in the spread of thrips.
Cottony Cushion Scale Bugs
Cotton cushion scale bugs are white lint-like insects that infest a wide range of plants such as ornamental plants and fruit trees.
But they’re most commonly found in succulents and prickly pear cacti.
Cottony cushion scale bugs are ¼ – 1/3 inches in size. And they produce a waxy substance that appears as a white scaly layer on their bodies.
Cottony cushion scale bugs and mealy bugs look alike. And like the mealy bugs, the cottony cushion bugs also draw the sap out of the plants.
It’s only the adults that develop the waxy coating. The nymphs move on to their life stage without developing any white waxy coating.
Soapy water spray, horticultural oils, and selective use of plant-based insecticide sprays are your best options to get rid of them.
However, you’ll need to prune the parts of the cacti that become too weak and blackish because of these bugs.
These scale bugs are only plant pests. They don’t bite or harm humans and pets.
Beech Scale Bugs
I’ve always been fond of attracting local wildlife such as wild turkeys, squirrels, and chipmunks in my yard. So, I planted two beech trees.
The beech nuts that grow on the beech trees attract animals of many species which I always enjoyed observing.
But not for long.
White lint-like layers started to develop on the bark of the trees. I tried to scrub them off, but they reappeared again after a few days.
After researching, I found out that these are tree pests which are known as beech scale bugs.
Beech scale bugs are yellow or brown and feed on the sap of the trees. They grow up to 1 mm or 0.04 inches in size.
But over time, their glands secrete a white waxy coating that gives them a lint-like appearance.
These insects feed on the trees’ sap, rendering it weak if there are too many of them.
My beech trees’ branches started to fall, and leaves drooped. They even caused beech bark disease (BBD) to my trees, which lead to the death of one of my trees.
Female beech scale bugs hide their eggs underneath the bark or the new leaves during the spring. That’s why they’re difficult to control.
Because beech scale bugs are not easy to eliminate, it’s always best to consult a tree expert who specializes in taking care of trees.
Fungus Gnats Larvae
Fungus gnats larvae are tiny white clear worms. These worms appear on the damp soil beds and wet organic wastes where adult fungus gnats lay their eggs.
Fungus gnats larvae look like small dust particles crawling on the soil or on the wastes.
These worms feed on the molds and fungi that form on these damp and moist places.
However, the fungus gnats larvae can be harmful to plants, especially seedlings.
They feed on the roots of the plants. Too many fungus gnat larvae around in the soil, including potting soil, can be harmful to plants.
Mix equal amounts of 3% hydrogen peroxide spray and water. And drench the soil with this mixture to kill the fungus gnats larvae.
The larvae are less than 0.33 inches in size. You can notice their tiny black dot-like head at one end of their bodies.
Removing the fungus gnat larvae from their source is the key to remove the fungus gnat infestation in homes.
Pot worms, scientifically known as Enchytraeidae, are a family of small white worms that live in damp soil and decaying organic matter.
Pot worms are close relatives to earthworms. But they’re smaller than earthworms.
A fully grown adult pot worm grows between 0.5 and 2 inches in size. They’ve slender, thread-like bodies, which when they curl up, appear as tiny white dust specks.
Some pot worms can also be pink. But their diminutive size and translucent bodies can make them difficult to spot when their numbers are not high.
There are both risks and benefits of pot worms.
Like earthworms, pot worms help in soil aeration, decomposition of organic matter, and they’re positive bio-indicators of soil’s health.
But if there are too many pot worms in the soil beds that indicates that there’s an alteration of the soil’s pH.
Their overpopulation signifies that acidic nature of the soil has increased that can negatively impact the plant’s health.
In indoor settings or greenhouse environments, pot worms are potential pests. They feed on the roots of young plants or seedlings, causing damage.
The best way to get rid of pot worms is by using hydrogen peroxide spray on them or by using neem oil spray.
Summary of Small White Dust or Lint-Like Bugs
So, there you go. A comprehensive list of tiny white bugs that look like dust.
Many of these bugs, especially the plant pests, that look like lint secrete a waxy substance that cover their bodies.
The rest of them appear as small specks of dust, not visible until there are too many of them.
So, have you noticed any other white bug that look like lint or dust? Let us know in the comments section below.