Pest Control

Tiny Red Bugs In House: Are They Harmful? Do They Bite?

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Tiny red bugs

See tiny red bugs crawling on your walls, windowsills, or furniture? If so, you might have a clover mite infestation.

Clover mites (Bryobia praetiosa) are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on plants and sometimes invade homes in crazy large numbers.

In this blog post, you will learn what clover mites are, how to identify them, how to prevent them from entering your house, and how to control them if they do.

Step 1: Make Sure You’re Dealing With Clover Mites

If you notice tiny red bugs in your house or yard, chances are good that those are clover mites. However, it’s important that you rule out any other possibility and be absolutely sure that this is the case.

Here’s what a tiny red clover mite looks like:

Clover mitePin

Clover mites are often mistaken for concrete mites (aka sidewalk mites) and chiggers (aka berry bugs) (1).

Concrete Mites vs Clover Mites

Concrete mites differ from clover mites in that they have a more elongated body. Also, they feature a larger gap between the second and third legs.

They’re less commonly found inside or on plants compared to clover mites. As their name suggests, these tiny red bugs can often be found on concrete patios, sidewalks, stonework, or foundations.

Here’s what they look like:

Concrete mitePin

Chiggers vs Clover Mites

Chiggers are about half the size of clover mites, which is around 1/60 inch, so they’re extremely tiny and hardly visible to the naked eye (2).

These bugs have strawberry-shaped red bodies and shorter legs than clover mites. In most cases, chigger mites prefer staying outdoors, and they typically don’t enter your house by themselves. They can, however, attach to your clothes while you’re outdoors.

Here’s a close-up photo of a chigger:

ChiggerPin

Chiggers can bite your skin. As a result, itching, red bumps, and blisters often appear on the skin (typically on the lower extremities and around the waist).

How to Identify Clover Mites

Clover mites are tiny red arachnids that feed on plants. Thus, they’re usually found in the yard.

However, when the outdoor environment becomes unfavorable (such as during heavy rains or temperature changes), they often move indoors. Typically, clover mites appear inside in the spring or autumn.

Description:

  • Clover mites are tiny, they’re about 1/30 inch in length.
  • They have a red or reddish-brown color (sometimes they’re closer to dark brown or green).
  • They have 8 legs and the front pair is disproportionally longer (twice as long or even longer) than the rest.
  • Their body is oval-shaped (3).

Clover mites are related to spiders and ticks, but they do not bite or transmit diseases, neither to humans nor to pets. They are not venomous.

Clover mites are not harmful to humans or pets. However, they can still be a headache and leave bright red stains if crushed.

Do not confuse clover mites with tiny spiders. If you’re in doubt, check out this article about how to identify and get rid of tiny spiders in your home.

Step 2: Get Rid of Clover Mites

Now that you are fully aware of what you’re dealing with, the next step is to get rid of these tiny red bugs.

Although clover mites don’t pose a risk to humans or pets and are not considered pests per se, they can damage your house plants and lawn and be really annoying when they appear inside your home.

I usually suggest that you only treat clover mite infestations with chemicals if they are appearing in large numbers in your yard. 

If the infestation is not heavy, the quickest way to get rid of clover mites is to vacuum them (don’t forget to dispose of the bag afterward). I often use this method with mosquitoes as well.

You can also use a damp cloth or duct tape; however, that may leave a spot on the wall. Placing sticky traps near places where clover mite activity is high may significantly reduce their numbers.

If the surface on which clover mites are present is heat-resistant, you can get nice results by exposing them to heat using a hairdryer (or heat gun).

Around the house, at certain locations, such as patios or sidewalks, you can use a pressure washer to eliminate mites.

Using Insecticides

If you’re dealing with a heavy infestation, you may need to apply insecticides around your house. Experts usually recommend using pyrethroid or miticide, which you can apply around the foundation, basements, vent openings, window frames, and all other places where clover mite infestations are present (4).

Indoors, you can use Pyrid Insecticide Aerosol (or any other over-the-counter indoor insecticide), which you need to spray where you can find a larger number of clover mites, such as cracks around the windows. Only use insecticides if you really need to, and always carefully read the instructions.

If you can’t exterminate clover mites by applying the above-mentioned methods or they keep returning, use a pest control service to put an end to the issue.

Step 3: Prevention

Prevention is paramount to controlling the number of clover mites both inside your house and in the yard.

What Attracts Clover Mites?

  • Vegetation. Because clover mites feed on plants, they are drawn to areas with lush vegetation.
  • Moisture. Clover mites are attracted to humid or moist environments (what they don’t like is too much water).
  • Shady areas. While they like warmer areas, they don’t really enjoy direct sunlight. Thus, they seek shady areas where they spent most of their time.
  • Warmth. Warmer weather encourages the activity of these little red bugs. During spring and fall, when the weather is mild and the temperature ranges from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, are when they tend to be more common.

Read more on what attracts clover mites in this article.

How to Prevent a Clover Mite Infestation

To prevent clover mites from invading your property, you must get rid of or minimize the sources of food and shelter that they need to survive.

Here are the most important steps to take:

  • Mow your lawn regularly and keep it short, especially close to the foundation.
  • Prune back any bushes or trees that touch your house. They can serve as entryways for tiny clover mites into your house.
  • Clear your foundation of any mulch, leaves, or other debris.
  • Consider creating a gravel barrier around your foundation.
  • Sealing cracks around your windows, doors, or foundation may help, but clover mites are so tiny that it’s impossible to find all the gaps that they could use to enter your home. Anyway, you can use caulk or weather stripping to block these entry points (this measure can be useful to keep other pests outside too).

FAQs

What do clover mites eat?

Clover mites feed on the sap of plants. They can also feed on other organic matter, such as dead insects.

Where do they come from?

The most typical places to find tiny clover mites are in lawns, gardens, and other moist, shaded areas. They are also common indoors, particularly in houses with lots of leafy plants. They’re very good at climbing walls.

Will they go away on their own?

While clover mites appear seasonally, there’s no guarantee that they will disappear on their own. Therefore, it’s best to address even minor infestations before they become a more severe issue.

Do clover mites jump?

No, they can’t jump, but they’re excellent climbers.

Are clover mites seasonal pests?

Yes, temperature variations and other environmental factors do affect their activity. Typically, they are most active in the spring and fall, when the weather is mild and conducive to reproduction.

Photos: Wikimedia (Rayanne Lehman, Judy Gallagher)

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More

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