Q:

What are tiny bright red bugs called, and do they bite?

A:

The two most common tiny, red bugs in North America are clover mites and red velvet mites. Both are eight-legged creatures in the arachnid family, which means mites are more closely related to spiders than insects. Clover mites are much smaller than red velvet mites, but both are distinguishable because of their bright red colors. Neither species of arachnid bite people nor larger animals.

Clover mites, or bryobia praetiosa, are smaller than 1 millimeter across with elongated front legs. Clover mites live in a state of dormancy, called estivation, during extremely hot and dry seasons. The mites are forced into hibernation during extremely cold temperatures. Clover mites feed on plant matter as they grow. Clover mite eggs are often found on the undersides of plant leaves.

Adults become active as soon as temperatures rise above freezing. These tiny, red bugs move rapidly on sunny window sills inside residential homes, and they crawl on the outside of buildings. Managing clover mites includes the repeated use of insecticides over the course of a season. Since rain washes away the insecticide, it must be reapplied after a heavy rain fall. It is typically sprayed up to 15 feet away from the exterior of a dwelling.

Red velvet mites are bigger, sometimes reaching up to 12 millimeters in length. These arachnids are parasites, and they live off of insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles and other ground-burrowing bugs.

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