You often hear people on the news talking about how there are too many people in the world, yet the human race is just one of millions (if not more) species on this planet – and we’re actually one of the smaller ones in terms of numbers.
In fact, the world of bugs has us outnumbered by astronomical proportions and what we consume is just a fraction of what they do (although they often do so more efficiently).
This is what makes identification of pests so difficult. It’s somewhat easy to spot an infestation of relatives, but there are literally hundreds of bugs that can infest your home or garden and some are so small it’s hard to get a good look at them.
That’s why we’re taking a moment to look at two common descriptions of bugs – those the size and shape of poppy seeds and those that resemble sesame seeds.
While this is obviously not an exhaustive list, we’ll look at some of the most common bugs (insects and arachnids) that fit these descriptions and how to further identify them.
See Also: 11 Bugs Often Mistaken For Earwigs
Bugs That Look Like Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are an off-white color and measure about 1/10 to ⅙ inches long with a teardrop shape.
#1 – Aphids
Aphids come in a variety of sizes, some as small as .05 inches. There’s also some variation in coloration, with different species appearing as black, brown, green, pink, or almost completely colorless. While they can have a few different shapes, many look like sesame seeds.
These pests can also infest houseplants, and you’ll see them on the undersides of leaves where they drink the sap. They can also be identified outdoors by the presence of ants, which use aphids as cattle.
#2 – Bed Bugs
One of the most dreaded household pests out there, bed bugs resemble dark, reddish brown sesame or apple seeds. Their eggs are tiny but are also shaped like tiny white sesame seeds. When you see one bed bug, you can be assured there are more.
Despite their reputation for infesting the bedroom, bed bugs are also known to invade other rooms. The good news is that their infamy is based more on the annoyance of bed bug bites and how tough it can be to get rid of a full-blown bed bug infestation than any potential health risks.
Note that there are some other critters that look like bed bugs, some of which are actually related (such as the bat bug or chimney swift bug) that don’t actually bite humans.
#3 – Black Carpet Beetles
The black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) is a species of carpet beetle that closely resembles a black sesame seed in both size and shape. While the adults aren’t particularly problematic, carpet beetle larvae can devastate textiles – especially carpets.
This particular species is especially troublesome, as the larval stage can last anywhere from three months to a whopping three years! Thus, if you spot an adult carpet beetle, you should grab your steam vac or other pest-killing supplies immediately and start hunting.
See Also: How to Get Rid of Flour Beetles
#4 – Fleas
If you see little black sesame seeds that seem to be standing on their side, you might just be looking at fleas or their flea dirt. But since about 15 other bugs look like fleas, positive identification isn’t easy.
Fleas are a major problem around the world, and not all species attack your pets. In fact, different species of fleas have different preferences in what critter they infest, and some pose very serious disease risks.
One species in particular, the human flea (Pulex irritans), prefers human blood and may have been the real culprit behind spreading the Black Death.
Because fleas can hibernate in the pupal stage for long periods of time while waiting for a valid food source, it’s possible to get an infestation seemingly out of nowhere even if you don’t own pets.
See Also: Can Fleas Survive in Human Hair?
#5 – Ticks
Ticks can be pretty nasty critters and are perhaps best known for being carriers of Lyme’s disease. They’re around 1/10 to 1/5 inches long and with a sesame seed shape. When engorged, they tend to have a brownish-black appearance and are shaped more like large poppy seeds.
While there are many species of ticks out there, they can all pose a potential health risk. Thus it’s important to check your clothes or pets if you’ve been around tall grasses or woods to ensure one didn’t tag along.
Bugs That Look Like Poppy Seeds
Poppy seeds are tiny, measuring only about .04 to .06 inches long, with a black exterior and a roughly kidney shape.
#1 – Drugstore Beetles
Resembling brown poppy seeds but closer to the size of small sesame seeds, the drugstore beetle (Stegobium paniceum) is a common pest of pantries and places that store dried plant products. It’s perhaps better known as a biscuit beetle and is cosmopolitan in distribution (although it prefers warmer climates).
The larvae have been known to infest hardtack and other bread products, books, hair, leather, and all sorts of herbs and spices (hence the name drugstore beetle). While the adults are generally harmless, the larva and that of a similar looking species, the cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne), can cause extensive damage if not addressed.
#2 – Flea Beetles
Measuring about 1/10 of an inch, these tiny round beetles look like poppy seeds all over your plants. The easiest way to identify them is by a curious behavior – when you touch one, it will jump just like a flea.
These beetles are usually found in vegetable gardens where they eat tiny, round holes through tender leaves.
#3 – Moss Mites
The order Oribatida, better known as moss mites or beetle mites, are actually beneficial critters, unlike most of the others we’re covering here. They’re about .04 inches long and look like little black poppy seeds.
If you do composting, seeing moss beetles is a good sign, as they aid in breaking down decomposing material and are often found in shaded areas of the yard.
These critters won’t harm healthy leaves, but they are known to attack dying or diseased leaves – which actually isn’t harmful to your plants. However, if your pet brushes up against a surface with moss beetles, some may end up in their fur. They won’t harm your pet and can easily be combed out.
#4 – American Spider Beetles
Now this is a very bizarre little critter. Resembling a sesame seed but with the roundness of a poppy seed, American spider beetles (Mezium americanum) tend to be a dull yellowish color with a red to black abdomen. They get their name from their unusual appearance, which closely resembles that of a spider – minus two legs.
However, the antennae can often be mistaken for the missing limbs. On occasion, they’ve also been mistaken for bed bugs if spotted from above.
While technically cosmopolitan, this species is most commonly found in the US within the northeastern states. One or two are generally not a huge risk, but once they multiply, an infestation can wreak havok in food prep locations, including processing plants and restaurants. They’ll eat just about any plant matter, from nuts to fruit to fish meal and even opium and tobacco!
Outside of kitchens and pantries, spider beetles are known to munch on textiles, books, taxidermy specimens, bug collections, or leather. While spider beetles (including the American spider beetle) are common pests, most people who encounter one will mistake it for a spider and squish it before they’ve had a chance to properly identify it.
Feces That Resemble Poppy Seeds
While we’ve focused mainly on pests that look like seeds, there are two instances of poppy seed-like critter feces that demand attention. In both cases, spotting the feces means serious problems for your home and will need to be addressed immediately.
Drywood Termite Feces
Termites are a major threat to homes, and this is often because they’re drawn to wood that’s already damaged. Drywood termites have the same sort of bathroom habits as medieval castle dwellers – they drop their poop out of holes.
Termite feces resemble little poppy seeds and are a sure sign that you have a termite infestation if you see tiny holes in the wall above the spot you found the feces. Sometimes, this is the first sign of a termite infestation outside of alates.
The other source of poppy seed-like fecal matter you need to worry about are roaches. Unless your name is Joe, you probably don’t want a bunch of cockroaches living in your apartment.
In fact, roaches can be vectors for all sorts of diseases. Add to that their speed and habit of popping up anywhere there’s food and it’s no wonder they’re one of the most common critter phobias out there.
If you spot feces that looks like poppy seeds and it’s along countertops or other places where termite feces is unlikely to appear, there’s a very good chance you have a roach problem. Different types of roach can mean small variations in the poop, but you’re not likely to be able to make this difference out.
It should be noted that roach feces can often be the first warning sign of a palmetto bug infestation, although you might spot some other species before spotting their poop.
As we mentioned earlier, this is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, there are other pantry bugs besides the drugstore beetle that look like sesame or poppy seeds. Most will either attack your crop or ornamental plants, your textiles (including carpets or linens), or stored food including pet food.
In some cases, they will resemble a seed only in a specific life stage. In others, such as the adult bed bug, all stages after the egg look almost identical.
When you see little white or black specks moving about, try to catch it with a piece of tape or a sticky trap. This will allow you to get the magnifying glass and take a closer look so you can better identify the tiny invader.