If you've noticed clusters of tiny bugs in your home lately, you aren't alone.
False chinch bugs have been booming this year. Here are six fast facts about them, according to the University of Arizona's Gene Hall, who manages the UA Insect Collection and works with Cooperative Extension.
Consider this your false chinch bug FAQ.
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What do they look like?
They're tiny — less than a quarter of an inch long.
They're a brownish gray color and narrow-bodied.
And while they're still immature, they have camouflage red marks on their bodies.
Do they bite?
They might be annoying, but they're completely harmless to humans!
Why are they here?
False chinch bugs are in the Tucson area often — but they aren't usually noticeable.
Mid-springtime is peak season for them. And they're especially noticeable after rainy winters/early springs, thanks to increased plant growth.
And when we have those wet winters, false chinch bugs come out in clusters, making them much easier to spot.
What do they feed on?
False chinch bugs feed on weeds, especially those of the mustard family such as the London rocket, which is seen in Tucson.
How do I get rid of them?
There's good news and bad news.
Bad news first: Once false chinch bugs have made an appearance in your home, there's not a whole lot you can do to get rid of them.
Since false chinch bugs feed on weeds, experts say it's important to pull weeds in early spring — before the bugs arrive. If you clear out your weeds after false chinch bugs are already there, it might be too late.
Another tip: Make sure all windows and doors are free of gaps or holes.
The good news: They aren't around for long! When temperatures outside increase and conditions become drier, false chinch bugs migrate or die off.
When will they be back?
It all depends on the winter we have this year and the early spring we have next year.
If we don't have a wet winter/early spring, false chinch bugs likely won't be back in the high volume we saw them this year.