What Are Those Tiny Red Bugs in My House?

What to Do About Clover Mites in Your Home

Red Mite (clover mite)
uuzinger via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 

It's very common to find tiny red bugs in a house. You're not alone if you spot these little mysteries on windowsills and curtains. They're annoying and when you squash them, they leave nasty red stains on everything.

Everyone who has encountered them wants to know what they are and how to get rid of them. The simple answer is that they are clover mites and eradicating them from your home requires diligence and patience.

What Are Clover Mites?

Clover mites typically invade homes in early spring or late fall. These tiny red bugs measure a mere millimeter or less in size, so it's easy for them to squeeze through the smallest of cracks around windows or in foundations.

You probably wouldn't notice a few clover mites in your home. However, they tend to aggregate in large numbers that can be a little disarming.

The good news is you have nothing to worry about. They don't bite people or pets, they don't carry diseases, and they can't damage your furniture or food items.

They do, however, leave a red stain if you squash them. This isn't blood, it's the pigments in their body that give them their red color.

How to Eliminate Clover Mites From the Outside

Clover mites (Bryobia praetiosa) feed primarily on grasses and clovers. They aren't insects, but true mites belonging to the class Arachnida.

Clover mites thrive on heavily fertilized lawns, so cut back on your fertilizing regimen if you have a clover mite problem.

Lawns that extend to the foundation of the house provide an easy pathway for mites to make their way indoors.

Also, consider removing vegetation away from your foundation. Opt for a strip of rock or mulch that the mites must crawl over to get to your home. At the same time, plant mite-repelling flowers and shrubs like zinnia, marigold, petunia, juniper, and spruce.

They are resilient, but these steps can help detract them.

Why Do Clover Mites Invade Homes? 

These tiny red bugs like to bask in warm, sunny places, so they crawl up the sides of buildings, usually on the south or west facing sides. Then, they'll look for hiding places, and crawl into the first crevice they find. Often, this is near a window, so they'll end up inside your home, crawling around on your windowsills and curtains.

If you find the clover mites a nuisance and want to get rid of them, use a vacuum cleaner to suck them up, then dispose of the bag in an outdoor garbage can away from the house. They can and will crawl back out of the bag if left indoors.

You can also place sticky traps on windowsills or other places where you find large aggregations of clover mites.

Once they are inside, clover mites may be attracted to your house plants because this will be their food source. Be sure to treat your plants while taking the other steps or your efforts will be in vain.