Tiny Red Bugs

dad70(Z5 IL)June 6, 2005

I have my herbs in large white styrofoam containers out on the porch. Over the last few days I have noticed tiny red bugs crawling on the soil and on/around the containers. They're bright red, about the size of a pinhead, and very agile like ants. With my poor eyesight, I couldn't tell how many legs they have. But if you squish 'em, you will certainly see red "juice". So far I do not notice any damage on my herbs' foliage. But I don't know if these red things are causing root damage. Does anyone have any idea what these red bugs are? Do they do any harm or could I safely ignore them? Any info will be helpful. Thanks.

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I THINK they are spider mites and can kill your plants... Are your plants getting enough drainage? I ask because herbs are usually, if not stressed, pretty bug resistant. You can try Safer's Soap, insecticidal soap...that should get them.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 10:20PM
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dad70(Z5 IL)

Thanks for your input, Heathen1. I also thought that they may be spider mites. Yet since I've never seen a spider mite, I couldn't be sure. Also, I am under the impression that spider mites may come in many colors, are usually found under the leaves(where they suck and cause dry spots), and on occasion, are evidenced by spider webs. These ones are just crawling about. I don't see them on the herbs themselves. Yes, my containers drain well. All of my herbs are in a medium of coconut husk chips and peat with the exception of the parsley and basil, which are in a potting mix. I'm just trying to get some info on these bugs before I take steps to obliterate them(or leave them alone IF harmless). Any other thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 10:43PM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

Could they have been Harvest Mites?...Harvest Mites are the adult form of Chiggers...and no the Harvest Mites do not eat people like the larvae stage does :)
They become herbivoirs and live in the soil. Chiggers are not visable to the naked eye unless you get a group of them...very bright red 'spot'. Adults are red also.

I posted a link which shows a pic of the adult, but only contains info on the chigger stage. Still looking for Harvest Mite info...


Here is a link that might be useful: Chigger/Harvest Mite

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 12:25AM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

Well all I can find is information on the Larvae/Chigger stages as a human/animal pest. All I can find in the several sources is that the adult Harvest Mite feed on plant material, but does say if that's decaying plant material or on live plants themselves...
I've been seeing a few adult crawlers on the soil surface here and there around my yard but thought we left those nasty chiggers back in Nebraska and the Dakotas! I know you all have them in Illinois! I would call your extention office and ask about the adult stage and are they plant damaging...and I'll ask my Plant Prob. Diagosis instructor tomorrow in class (she is a Plant Pathologist).

Good luck,


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 12:43AM
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dad70(Z5 IL)

Thanks for the info Vera. I think you might have hit it. After reading your post/link, I went out and dabbed one of those red things with a swab soaked in alcohol. Looking under a magnifying glass, it certainly looks like the photo of a harvest mite. Since they lay eggs that turn into chiggers, I think I'll have to do something about them. I don't want to breed chiggers that will attack me when I sit out to enjoy my garden. Any other thoughts and additional info is appreciated. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 5:10PM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

LOL! I don't blame you..it doesn't feel too good!!
I talked to my instructor and she said to also check out the Clover Mite...in our area anyways...since we don't have too many Harvest Mites up this way, but you may also want to check that out too :)
I'm looking at the Google images of these guys and they sure don't look near as bright red as the mites I've been seeing!! Bugs do move into other areas don't they or come about when conditions are favorable? Conditons here have definatley been right this year..usually we are dry or moderatley dry this time of year with most of our rain (annually about 17" percip) in April and October, but we've been getting quite a bit in May/June...prime time for chiggers.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 9:49AM
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I've seen that little red bug and it isn't a mite - too big. It doesn't seem to do any harm and we don't have chiggers up this way (did when I was a kid - now they have been superseeded by deer ticks) so I've just left them to pursue their ways. It is totally scarlet - not spotted. If you find out what it is, I'd like to know but I'm not one to look, see and kill. I always allow them one bite, as with a dog.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 10:23AM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

Yes the chigger is too small to see unless grouped together, but the adult Harvest Mite is not which can often be seed running over the soil. Too supress doesn't mean to be eliminated :)
The Clover Mite is spotted not chiggers/adults...Here's a fact sheet on them: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/DK1002.html. Another Clover Mite fact sheet says coloration can range from dark brown to red. They have long legs and are slightly smaller than a pin head. Red Spider Mites are just as small and you would need a magnifying lens to see them and webbing on plants is visable when plants are infested..possible to see movement on the webs.


Here is a link that might be useful: Fact Sheet

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 12:00PM
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The creatures you speak of are of the scientific classification: Ulandilopisonyoglia. They are originally from Andromeda, a galaxy not too far from ours, from a planet called Beltom. They have come here to visit to thrive under our sun, mating like wild-fire creating tinier "Little Red Bugs" per se, and burrow deep into the ground during the winter months where it is warm. The reason for their migration was due to their sun which had gone nova.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 11:33PM
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ive got them 'tiny red bugs' too, i think they might be 'red earth mites' or 'red velvet mites', but im not quite sure.
hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:33PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Spider mites. Try spraying all the soil and leaves with Neem every few days.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:18PM
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ive done some more research on them, and they are definatly called Red Velvet Mite.Spider mites are different. Spider mites are a problem for house plants but they are not red.

The presence of red velvet mites is extremely important to the environment. These mites are part of a community of soil arthropods that is critical in terms of rates of decomposition in woodlands and in maintaining the structure of the entire ecosystem.
By feeding on insects that eat fungi and bacteria, they stimulate the decomposition process. And when they are removed from the area, many critical processes in the soil go much slower. so they aren't harmful, but useful! (i think)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 2:22PM
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Ok, so I've had this argument with my hubby about these little red bugs, he seems to think they're mites of some sort, but I grew up being told they were brand new hatched boxelder bugs. They look like the mites and they do leave a red "juice" when you squish them, but they dont look like the pictures I have found on Google. I can't seem to find any with a picture of a new boxelder.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 12:14AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The original poster described something that was clearly not spider mites. I even doubt that they are red velvet mites, since the environment is so hostile to those animals. There are many species of what we can call 'clover mites' and this is what she observed. They can be quite alarming sometimes, the way they'll climb all over everything.

Boxelder nymphs are something quite different. Yes, they are very small and red when they first hatch, but not as small as the typical clover mite. Few people would mistake them for a mite, I think. Attached is an image of your BEB, just hatched!

Spider mites are WAAY smaller than a clover mite, by the way.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 9:57AM
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I think you're wrong, and a little arrogant sounding. I've compared pictures very closely and am 99.9% sure the bugs I've found in my own garden (why I found this thread) are red velvet mites. They are definitely not clover mites. "The environment is too hostile" makes an awful lot of assumptions about the OP's setup that you can't know. And if they can live in my soil, they can live in hers. Perhaps the coconut husk simulates their natural environment (decaying forest floor). Point is- you don't know.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 1:57PM
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Wow!!! Thank you to all those in this thread for the interaction that prompted me to research all the tiny red bug names discussed - I have gone nuts trying to figure out what were these small red bugs in the yard and thanks to Steshabug and rhizo_1 I was able to determine they are definately baby Box Elder bugs! Amazing how a thread could be helpful to someone else two years later!!! Now to research how to deal with these bugs...Thank you again.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 9:21AM
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Maybe someone here can help me. Every time I walk out on my deck I find myself covered in these pin sized, flea like red bugs. They must be dropping on me cause it only takes a few seconds. I've seen them jump, n they definately bite. I live northeast pa. Please help me

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 11:22AM
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