Little white bugs are the most confusing bugs. These bugs are tiny, hard to detect, and they look like dust particles.
But many of these white insects are damaging plant pests despite looking pretty.
Some of them pose health risks too because they can trigger allergic reactions.
Not to mention, many small white bugs can land up a nasty itchy bite that can leave you in discomfort for weeks.
This guide will reveal tiny white bugs that look like dust or lint.
You’ll find out where these bugs show up in your home, how to identify them, and the hacks to eliminate them.
Mealybugs are white lint or dust-like plant pests that feed on the plant sap.
These bugs are oval-shaped, growing anywhere between 1/20 – 1/5 inches in size, oval-shaped, and have two appendages at the rear end.
Many mealybugs appear to have scales. Apart from being white, they can come in different colors like beige, pink, and brown.
Mealy bugs gather in clusters at the undersides of the plant’s leaves or on the twigs and branches.
Mealybugs poop are pale yellow wax, which is also known as honeydew.
The honeydew is the food source of ants. And with time, the honeydew turns into sooty black molds on the plants.
Mealy bugs are harmless to pets and humans.
But they can spread fast in your garden plants if you don’t get rid of them.
A mixture of dish soap and water is good enough to remove them from the plants.
Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and use it on the mealybugs to eliminate them from the infected plants.
White Spider Mites
White spider mites are little white insects that damage plants.
These tiny white bugs look like tiny dust-like particles on the undersides of the leaves.
They’ve got sharp mouth parts that they use to insert into the leaf veins to draw the sap.
When in smaller numbers on plants, they’re hard to detect because they grow only 1/50th of an inch in size.
But their numbers grow quickly if you don’t get rid of them.
Large number of spider mites can inflict serious harm to the plants.
The leaves curl, turn yellow, wither, and fall off.
Too many spider mites on plants seriously impact the plants’ health.
A bad spider mites infestation can kill the plants, especially the seedlings.
A strong spray of soapy water on these bugs is enough to remove them from the plants.
However, you must quarantine the infected plants with spider mites before you treat them.
Spider mites don’t bite humans.
But they can be a nuisance inside the house and reach places like your bed if there are too many of them on the potted plants.
Mold mites feed on the molds that form on the damp surfaces.
A home with high moisture content will certainly attract mold mites.
Mold mites are tiny (0.3 mm), white, and translucent. They can also glitter, especially when they’re pearly white.
However, mold mites can be hard to detect because of their tiny size.
You’ll need a magnifying glass to see them.
Also, the color of the mold mites depends on the color of the mold they’re eating.
So, mold mites will look like a layer of gray dust on a moldy surface.
But on white molds, mold mites will look like a layer of white dust.
Mold mites can also spread into damp electrical appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators.
Like the dust mites, mold mites can also cause allergies because there are hairy bristles on their bodies.
To eliminate mold mites, you’ll need to remove the molds from the molds on the furniture, walls, and floor.
You can do it with the help of white vinegar or mold cleaner.
But it’s important that you control the humidity levels of your home.
You can do it by fixing water leakages that causes the moisture levels in the walls and floors to increase.
Dust mites are tiny white bugs that look like dust on the things they gather on.
These tiny white mites are microscopic bugs.
Dust mites are impossible to spot when their numbers are low.
But when their are too many of them, they look like a thin dusty layer on the thing they’re onto.
Dust mites season is from May to October.
It’s during this period they enter homes through the thin gaps and cracks on the walls, windows, and doors.
These mites are attracted to dampness.
So, they’ll gather on the damp surfaces like walls, floor, and furniture inside the house.
Soon dust mites spread in the rest of the home, especially in the soft furnishings like bed, sofa, carpet, and rugs.
These are all nesting grounds of dust mites.
Dust mites can also spread to unlikely objects such as books and on electronics like phones.
Dust mites can also get inside the closet.
Dust mites look like tiny white bugs on clothes when they’re on your clothes and fabric.
Dust mites in bed will enter your nose. That’ll cause allergies.
Dust mites can trigger allergic reactions even in healthy individuals.
For asthma patients, dust mites can be deadly. Dust mites can trigger asthma attacks in them.
The signs of allergies are sneezing, running nose, and difficulty breathing.
Dust mites don’t bite humans.
But they feed on the dry dead skin cells of the humans. That dry skin is known as dander.
The feeding process causes severe itching on the skin.
That leads to itchy red welts and rashes on the skin.
Cleaning the home with a vacuum cleaner, washing infected items in hot water, and controlling the moisture levels in the house are keys to control dust mites.
Grain mites, also known as the flour mites, are tiny pearly white or grayish white food bugs that look like dust.
These mites infest stored grains, cereals, and foods like flour and pasta.
And grain mites are difficult to spot individually. They’re microscopic, soft-bodied, wingless, and have a pair of claws to grab hold the grains.
They grow between 0.012 inches and 0.017 inches.
Grain mites are not only white. They can be brownish and pale yellow too.
The color of the grain mites depends on the color of the grain it’s feeding on.
That’s why grain mites on flour can be difficult to spot because they’re totally white on the flour.
Grain mites enter your kitchen by being present in the food packets that you buy from grocery stores.
When their numbers increase, they appear as a whitish dusty layer on stored food containers and on the kitchen cupboards and shelves.
Grain mites don’t contaminate food. You can eat the food with grain mites in them.
All you’ve to do is wash the grains or food in warm water or by putting the food in the freezer or oven before cooking or eating the food.
But grain mites can certainly make the food a bit stale.
Foods like grains and flour with grain mites will emit a smell.
And there will be a thin brownish layer on the foods too.
Woolly aphids are tiny white fluffy flying bugs at the undersides of the plants’ leaves.
They gather underneath the plants’ leaves in clusters, woolly aphids become easily visible in the form of lint or cotton balls.
When there are too many of them, they can cover the entire twig or the branch of the plant.
Woolly aphids are common pests on apple trees and Chinese hackberry trees.
However, they’re a serious threat to plants like elm, alder, mountain hash, and hawthorn.
Like the spider mites, the woolly aphids too feed on the plants’ sap.
The plant leaves turn yellow, curl, and wither off.
Woolly aphids produce honeydew. That honeydew turns into sooty black molds, which are known as gall or cankers.
As the honeydew is sweet, it can also attract damaging ants to the plants.
Woolly aphids weaken the plants and robs the plants of their vitality.
Overexposure of plants to woolly aphids can cause the plants to die too.
Plant-safe insecticide spray or a strong spray of water on the plants are good enough to get rid of them.
However, inviting woolly aphids’ natural predators like the lady bugs, dragonflies, and lacewings also helps in keeping them under control.
Woolly aphids don’t bite humans and pets.
Another plant pest that is small and white, and look like lint is the white fly.
Whiteflies are oblong-shaped flies and they grow up to 1/10 inches in size.
Whiteflies will target the leaves of vegetable plants, fruit plants to feed on their sap.
Too many white flies on plants make the plants weak.
Constant feeding on the plants’ sap causes the leaves to turn dry, yellow, and the leaves break off from the plants.
Whiteflies also secret honeydew. That causes molds on the plants.
These molds attract ants which cause further damage to the plants.
Whiteflies also bite humans.
But those bites are probationary bites to find out if the human is a plant or not.
The bites cause minor itching that can persist for a day or two.
Whiteflies don’t draw human blood. They don’t spread any diseases either.
Plant-safe Insecticide sprays are your best bet against whiteflies.
A spray of soapy water on the whiteflies removes them from the infected plants too.
Cottony Cushion Scales
One common landscape bug that infests citrus plants is the cottony cushion scales bug.
These bugs are tiny, white, and fuzzy. And they infest the plants in chunks.
But cottony cushion scales are not white. It’s the egg sacs that they carry on their back that are scaly and white.
Those egg sacs contain 500-800 red eggs that hatch during the summer.
The actual color of the cottony cushion scales is brown.
The egg sacs on their bodies increase their size. The resultant length of a white cottony cushion scales bug is half an inch.
The females, which infest citrus plants, reproduce asexually. The males are low in numbers, red, and rare to spot.
White cottony cushion scale bugs damage plants by sucking on the sap of the leaves, twigs, branches, and trunk.
Their infestation leads to the defoliation of the plants, withering off the leaves, and reduction in the vitality of plants.
Cottony cushion scales spread fast. The infestation can grip the entire citrus tree within a few weeks.
These tiny white fuzzy bugs excrete honeydew. That leads to the formation of blackish molds on the plants.
The honeydew also attracts ants and other bugs that can further damage the plants.
The cottony cushion scale bugs are active from late spring until mid-fall.
They rapidly produce baby-scale bugs during this period, leading to a severe infestation.
Experts don’t recommend using insecticides to get rid of these bugs.
Introducing their natural enemies, like the vedalia beetle and parasitic flies like Cryptochetum iceryae, eliminates these bugs.
However, with the excessive use of insecticides and insect growth regulators, there is a massive reduction in the cottony cushion scales’ natural predators.
On top of that, pesticides can’t penetrate the tough scales that these bugs develop.
So, two reliable solutions are chopping off the branches and twigs where these bugs infest or scrubbing them off the trees and disposing of them.
True Cochineal bug
Did you ever see tiny white bugs infesting cacti? Those are the true cochineal bugs.
True cochineal bugs are common in hot states of the US, where they infest succulents like cacti.
These bugs suck the sap off the cactus plants. It causes the plants to lose their vitality.
When the infestation is heavy, that leads to the death of succulents.
True cochineal bugs are soft-bodied, flat, oval, and white scaly insects. The females infest succulents in clusters, and they’re tiny.
A fully matured actual cochineal bug grows only up to 0.2 inches in size. So, when their numbers are small, it’s pretty hard to spot them.
They’ve got beak-like solid mouthparts or mandibles that penetrate the tender bodies of succulents to feed on their juices.
The best part is that getting rid of these bugs is easy. And you don’t need any chemical pesticides to get rid of them.
Spray the affected area on the succulents with water from the hose under pressure. It gets rid of them.
If the infestation is heavy, spraying soapy water or a mixture of equal amounts of white vinegar and water on the infected areas will eliminate the actual cochineal bug.
Beech Scale Bugs
The tiny white beech scale bugs are among the most pests on beech trees in the US.
These bugs infest the smooth bark of beech trees. Beech scale bugs remain stationary on the trees’ bark.
Beech scale bugs have long, needle-like, sucking mouth parts that penetrate the bark to suck the tree’s nutrients.
At first look, you may confuse their lint-like appearance on the trees’ bark with fungi.
They may look harmless, but as they keep feeding on the tree, they insert pathogens inside the tree.
That causes a fatal disease in the beech trees, known as the beech bark disease.
Like the marine copepods in a reef tank aquarium, the beech scale bugs look like tiny white specks of dust on the bark.
Applying horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps to the beech barks is the most common solution to protect the trees.
But these insecticides can harm beneficial bugs and insects in the landscape.
White springtails are small white bugs that appear jumping white dust particles when they jump.
Most species of springtails are grey, yellowish, brown, or blackish.
But there are some species of springtails that are tiny and white.
White springtails are tiny bugs, slender-bodied, growing between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch, and resemble fleas.
Springtails don’t have wings. And they can’t fly. But they’re strong jumpers.
Like other springtails, white springtails will jump if you disturb them.
To jump springtails use their fork-like organ underneath their abdomen that they unroll to push them against the ground.
Organic debris, moist soil beds, and garbage cans with damp plant wastes are ideal places for the springtails to live and breed.
They feed on the decaying organic matter and the molds and fungi that form on rotting wastes.
White springtails are harmless to humans and pets. These tiny white bugs don’t bite despite latching onto your clothes and skin.
White springtails are also moisture bugs.
So, when outdoor weather becomes excessively dry, they can enter your home looking for a damper place.
That makes them hide in your bathroom and kitchen.
Their presence both indoors and outdoors is a sign of excessive moisture.
So, the best way to eliminate them is by controlling the dampness and refraining from overwatering your yard or garden.
Like the mold mites, the psocids mites are also mold eaters.
So, they’ll invade a damp home that has molds on the walls, floors, and furniture.
Psocids mites are not typically white. They’re beige.
But they’ll look like tiny specks of whitish dust on the walls or on the thing they’re onto.
Psocids mites have got two different names. They’re also known as wall mites and booklice.
As they’re common in damp walls, so they’re known as wall mites.
Psocids mites are known as booklice because they feed on the molds that form on the pages and bindings of old books.
Psocids mites are harmless bugs. They grow between 0.5 mm and 1 mm in size, slender-bodied, and oval-shape.
Some of the booklice are brown and because of their size, many people confuse them with bed bugs.
Psocids mites don’t bite. And they don’t spread any diseases.
But they can be a severe nuisance in the house if their numbers increase.
They can spread into your kitchen and in your stored rice if you don’t get rid of them and don’t control the dampness levels inside the house.
Removing the molds, cleaning the home, and controlling the dampness levels of your house by fixing the water leakages help eliminating psocids mites.
Clothes Moth Larvae
Clothes moth larvae are shinny white worms with a black head.
These are the larvae of clothes moths that are pale golden.
Adult clothes moths enter homes to lay eggs on the clothes and fabric made of natural fibers like wool, silk, etc.
So, they can invade your closet.
Clothes moths prefer darkness.
So, clothes storage places are their ideal places for them to lay eggs.
The clothes moth larvae are white caterpillars that grow up to 1/2 an inch in size.
The Casemaking cloth moth larvae will develop an encasing at it’s rear end.
It’ll drag the case along with itself wherever it goes.
The case is a protection against predators. The larvae also build up the case to hide into it during the pupae stage.
Clothes moth larvae cause severe damages to clothes made from natural fabrics.
They’ll feed on the fabrics, leaving behind threadbare chewed holes and fecal deposits.
Washing the infected clothes in hot water, dry cleaning expensive fabrics, and stopping the adult clothes moths to enter homes are keys to prevent an infestation.
Body lice are nasty white parasites on humans that feed on human blood.
Body lice are extremely tiny, or microscopic bugs, and can be very difficult to spot.
Full-grown adult body lice grow up to 3.6 mm (or 0.14 inches), which makes them hard to detect.
Not all body lice are white. There are body lice that are also brown.
Body lice are common in homes with extremely unhygienic living conditions.
Body lice live in refugee camps, homeless shelter homes, and in unhygienic neighborhoods.
So, you can get body lice if you visit these types of places that are prone to have body lice infestation.
Another way of getting body lice is by using an infected person’s clothes and belongings like a towel, bedsheets, and mattress.
Body lice bites can cause severe itching and diseases.
They bite your neck, shoulder, armpits, waist, and groin area. Taking immediate medical care is critical if you’ve got body lice.
Most aphids are green, black, yellow, brown, and gray. But certain aphids are white too.
White aphids are tiny white bugs that grow only up to 0.04″ -0.08″ (1-2mm) in size and are active during the summer months.
White aphids are pear-shaped bugs with a tapered body. These little white bugs are notorious for inserting their mouthparts into plants’ leaves and sucking the sap.
White aphid infestation on plants leads to the discoloration of the leaves, the development of yellow spots on the leaves, and the plants become weak too.
Leaves grow pale, curl up, and wither off the plants.
White aphids look like small white rice grains or white dust specks on the leaves’ undersides. They can also gather on the plants’ branches.
A strong squirt of soapy water spray is enough to eliminate the white aphids from the plants.
You might need to use insecticide treatment if the infestation is severe.
When the infestation spreads, white aphids can even attack house plants and plants in greenhouses.
Root aphids are harmful little white bugs for plants. These white dust-like bugs attack the plants’ roots.
Despite being aphids, root aphids have a different body shape than other aphids. Their body shape is like that of ticks, but they’re white.
Root aphids don’t gather on the leaves and stems of the plants.
They remain on the soil’s layer and slowly dig their way into the soil to target the roots.
Root aphids are difficult to spot when their numbers are low.
Root aphids in plants make the plants weak from the bottom up.
They insert their mouthparts into the plant’s roots and feed on nutrients.
Insecticide dust removes the root aphids.
However, that can negatively affect the helpful bugs in your yard or garden.
Expert gardeners believe that you’ll need to uproot the entire plant that root aphids harmed.
Getting rid of them can be tough when the infestation is heavy.
Soil mites are microscopic white bugs that thrive in the soils of your potted plants and on the soil beds of your garden.
Unlike root aphids, soil mites are beneficial bugs for the plants.
Soil mites decompose the organic material in the soil and release their nutrients.
That makes the soil rich and helps the plants to absorb the nutrients in the soil.
Soil mites can’t fly or jump. They remain underneath the soil’s layer.
But at times, they can come up on the soil’s surface.
And when they do, soil mites appear as tiny white bugs that look like dust particles on the soil.
Soil mites come in different colors other than white. There are soil mites that are brown, black, yellow, and green.
The difference between soil mites and root aphids is that the root aphids are bigger and more harmful pests.
Also, root aphids are easier to spot.
Do not try to use any methods that can harm the soil mites. They’re good for your plants and garden.
Plaster bagworms, also known as the household case bearer, are little white dust-like bugs.
These are larvae of household moths that are common in south of Florida.
In Florida, these plaster bagworms are also known as dust worms, which look like tiny white crawling worms with a dusty case.
The plaster bagworm, with it’s bag, is oval-shape. The worm is the larval stage of the cloth moths.
Many people confuse the clothes moth larvae with the plaster bagworms because both look similar.
However, both of these worms belong to moths of different families.
The clothes moth larvae belong to the moths of family Tineidae. Whereas, the household case bearer or plaster bagworms belong to the family Psychidae.
The plaster bagworm feeds on spider webs, dead insects, and even human and pet hair.
These tiny white bugs climb on walls and ceilings because they look for spider webs to eat.
Plaster bagworms are half an inch in size and thrive in hot and humid weather.
Plaster bagworms are harmless.
They don’t bite and don’t carry any diseases.
But their presence indicates that there’s a moth problem in your home.
Scooping them off the wall with a vacuum cleaner is the only thing you need to do to get rid of plaster bagworms.
But you might need to take steps to ensure that cloth moths don’t enter your home.
Dr. Thomas Orbert, the Microbial Maestro, dances with the tiniest of creatures as an entomologist extraordinaire! With a PhD in entomology, his passion lies in unraveling the secret symphonies of insect-microbe interactions. From minuscule marvels to captivating complexities, Dr. Orbert unveils the hidden world of bugs, igniting curiosity one buzz at a time!