15 Common NYC Apartment Bugs and What They Look Like

Whether you are looking forward to moving to NYC or have lived here a long time, it’s good to know what the common NYC apartment bugs are. No matter where you live there will be bugs, but as long as you know what you are dealing with, you can take steps to prevent them from becoming a problem.

A critical piece of advice is to try and catch any insect you find, so a professional can identify your bug. One way to catch a bug for ID is to have some packing tape nearby and get the bug on sticky tape. You can also drop the live insect into alcohol and snap some photos.

Like in any other part of the country, certain types of bugs are more common in NYC apartments.

15 Common NYC Apartment Bugs (with Photos)

Here are 15 of the most common bugs found in NYC apartments:

1. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on human blood. We usually find them in areas where people sleep, such as beds, mattresses, and headboards. However, you can find them on bookshelves, closets, backpacks, walls, steam pipes, and many other places.

However, these NYC bugs are also found worldwide and you can pick one up just about anywhere.

As far as we know, scientists say that bed bugs do not spread disease, although their bites can cause itchy red spots or welts in 70% of the population.

a bed bug is one of the Common NYC Apartment Bugs

Do They Bite? Yes

How to Identify

  • Look for bed bug stains, which are their droppings.
  • Size: between 1.5 mm – 6 mm (depending on the stage and when they last had a blood meal)

2. Fleas

Fleas are small, brownish-black insects that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. You will most commonly find them on pets, but they can also infest furniture, bedding, and carpets. Fleas are not just an NYC bug, they are a parasite that you will find worldwide.

Fleas can cause skin irritation and hair loss in pets, and can also transmit diseases like typhus and bubonic plague. Additionally, they are also a cause of tapeworms since they are an intermediate host of the tapeworm.

adult flea - a common NYC apartment pest

Do They Bite? Yes

How to Identify

  • Comb through your pets’ fur with a flea comb, look for flea dirt (droppings), scratching animals, jumping fleas, or bites around your ankles.
  • Size: between 1/8th of an inch to 1/16th of an inch (depending on the stage).

3. German Cockroaches

Cockroaches are amber/brownish insects that you commonly find in kitchens. However, sometimes if your infestation is bad enough, you will find them around your bed. They feed on a wide variety of things, including food, water, and decaying matter.

Most buildings have roaches wandering around them; that is why they are high up on our list of common NYC apartment bugs. Cockroaches can cause asthma attacks, and other respiratory problems spread disease.

If you find roaches in your apartment, it’s essential to do a deep cleaning and then daily maintenance. There are things you can do to mitigate the number of roaches entering your apartment, keep all sinks dry, pour water down the drains, seal up cracks and crevices, and never leave food on the counters.

One fun fact is that cockroaches eat bed bugs, but they are not an excellent way to control a bed bug issue. Most apartment buildings in NYC have a monthly exterminator that will handle issues like roaches. Keep in mind that the best way to get rid of insects is to follow the steps above and set out baits.

A cockroach nymph is also another common bug that people think might be a bed bug.

German Cockoach - a common NYC apartment bug

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for fast moving insects near your counters, cabinets, and sinks. You can also look for roach feces, which are black ink-like stains. The black stains will be around the food sources (usually in the kitchen).
  • Size: between 13 mm – 16 mm (depending on the age).

4. Bird Mites

Bird mites are tiny, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of birds and hang out in their nest. They can make their way into apartments when birds nest around or in your windows. Usually, this happens when fledgling birds leave the nest, and the bird mites are left hungry.

At this time is when they migrate in larger numbers to find a new host. That’s when they can squeeze through small spaces where your window sits and begin to bite humans.

If you have unusual bite-like marks then check around your AC unit and also have a look at the roof of your building directly above your windows. Additionally, they do not complete their life cycle on human blood; however, check, you can get infested with them if you have a nearby nest that is infested.

Over the years, we have done plenty of inspections for bed bugs that turn out to be bird mites. For many of our clients bird mites are one of those mistaken bugs that look like bed bugs.

bird mite - a common NYC bug
This is a bird mite that we found in a Lower East Side apartment. The resident was getting bite marks for a few weeks.
Bird mite - a small reddish parasite that feeds on blood

Do They Bite? Yes

How to Identify

  • Look for a tiny mite with 8 legs translucent, bright red, or greyish/black. The color depends on when they last fed. You may see the mite on your bed, walls, couch, or window sills. Additionally, look for birds nests near your windows, rooftop, or gutters.
  • Size: very small – 1/32 of an inch; however, they are visible.

5. Ants

Sugar Ants are tiny, black insects commonly found in kitchens or just about anywhere there is food. Ants are one of the common NYC apartment bugs. They feed on all kinds of things, including sweets, crumbs, and other insects.  The best thing to use for getting rid of ants is liquid ant bait, like Terro. If you can trace back the line of ants to where they are coming in and put a liquid bait trap there, you won’t have an ant problem in a few weeks.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants are the larger of the ant species. They live in a colony with over 3,000 ants all having various jobs. Not only are they large and destructive, but getting rid of them can be tough. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with carpenter ants, then you know that they can be a real pain.

ants up close eating bread

Do They Bite? If you disturb or threaten them, they do not intentionally seek out humans to bite.

How to Identify

  • Look for trails of ants. You will usually see them forming a line, and working together towards a food source.
  • Size: Sugar ants between 2-5 mm, Carpenter ants between 6-12 mm.

6. Spider Beetles – Very Common NYC Apartment Bugs (Harmless)

Spider beetles are small, red insects that you will commonly find all over NYC apartments. Consequently, they are more common NYC apartment pests mistaken for bed bugs. Keep in mind that spider beetles are general scavengers and we find them in many places where they shouldn’t be, so you may find one crawling on your bed.

Spider beetles enjoy a diverse diet that includes rodent droppings, almonds, beans, and even human leftovers! These pesky insects are general scavengers who will happily feed on anything; providing there is enough moisture present.

Gibbium aequinoctiale Shiny Spider Beetle, on the list for the most common NYC apartment bugs
spider beetles crawling up a NYC apartment wall
A spider beetle that our client found crawling up her wall.

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for a small red insect with a very round body and long legs.
  • Size: between 1.5 to 3.5 millimeters.

7. Flour BeetlesCommon NYC Apartment Bugs

What’s the deal with flour beetles? Humidity and grain are pretty much a match made in heaven. Flour beetles are small, reddish-brown insects that we find in kitchens and pantries. However, sometimes you can find a flour beetle in your bed. Moreover, they feed on a variety of things, including flour, grains, and cereals. Unfortunately, flour beetles can contaminate food, and can also cause allergic reactions in some people.

The best thing to do if you are finding flour beetles all over your house is to do a deep cleaning. You must remove all food products from your pantry and inspect everyone for evidence of an infestation.

Red Flour Beetle Tribolium Castaneum

Do They Bite? No, however, they do have chewing mouthparts and can accidentally bite a human.

How to Identify

  • Look for small reddish brown, slender insects.
  • Size: between 3-4 mm

8.  Latridiidae Beetles

 Latridiidae beetles, AKA minute brown scavenger beetles, are very tiny, brown insects that love damp areas. These little insects feed on the spores of fungi, mold, and mildews.

So if you see a lot then your apartment building might have some kind of problem with molds! Sometimes there is a leaky air conditioning unit that is causing moisture in the walls. In turn, moisture can lead to mold issues.

Finally, sometimes they are mistaken for a baby bed bug since they are small and reddish/brown. We often get clients sending us a photo of a  Latridiidae beetle, asking if it’s a bed bug.

minute brown scavenger beetles - Latridiidae Beetles - common in NYC apartments

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for small brownish slender beetles, that look similar to a flour beetle only smaller.
  • Size: between 1.2 mm and 2 mm

9. Book Louse – Psocids

Booklice are small, translucent, white, or grey insects that love  NYC apartments. Even though they have “lice” in their name, they are not technically a louse, they feed on types of things, including mold, paper, and glue. More importantly, booklice love humid environments. More importantly, booklice love humid climates.

Booklice can damage books and other materials and cause allergic reactions in some people. Often we will find booklice around beds when there is a moisture issue in a nearby wall. So perhaps your bathroom shower wall has a leak, and your bedroom wall is on the other side of this, then there is a chance that you will start seeing booklice show up around your bed.

Many of our clients often mistake booklice for a bed bug nymph. The only way to solve a booklouse infestation is to first deal with the moisture or mold issue. There are no pest control sprays that will work to get rid of them if you still have mold in your walls.

Booklouse commonly found in and around NYC apartments.

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for tiny translucent, grey, or white insects.
  • Size: between 1 mm – 2mm.

10. Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are small, variegated, brownish-black insects that you can find round, wood, box springs, carpets, clothing, and furniture. They feed on various things, including down blankets, wool, silk, and other fabrics.

We often find carpet beetles and their larvae underneath people’s box springs. It’s important to vacuum underneath a box spring and bed frame every few months, so you can catch a carpet beetle problem before it becomes an infestation

Carpet beetles can damage fabrics and cause allergic reactions in some people. It developes as an allergic reaction to the hairs that are on the carpet beetle larvae’s body. More importantly people mistake these skin reactions for bed bug bites.

carpet beetle and the larvae

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for hairy worm-like larvae or a beetle
  • Size: between 1.5 mm – 6 mm (depending on if its the brown carpet beetle, two-spot carpet beetle, or varied carpet beetle)

11. Centipedes

Centipedes are small, greyish insects that love scavenging around most apartment buildings in NYC. They are scavengers and feed on various things, including other insects. Furthermore, they are common NYC apartment bugs that you don’t want to kill.

Whether you love them or hate them, there is no doubt that house centipedes have a vital role in our society. These creatures can eat up bed bugs, roaches, and other insects which plague homes everywhere!

Do They Bite? Rarely (unless they need to defend themselves)

House centipede - a common NYC apartment pest

How to Identify

  • Look for a greyish quick-moving insect with up to 15 long legs.
  • Size: between  25 and 35 mm, although their long legs are larger if you include their long legs, their size is larger.

12. Spiders

Firstly, spiders are small, eight-legged creatures that are commonly found all over NYC. Secondly, they feed on a variety of things, including insects.

The American House Spider is a common one you may see inside of an NYC apartment. They have thin legs and a large shiny round abdomen; they are not poisonous. More importantly, they are not harmful, and may even help catch some other bugs that end up inside of your apartment. Jumping spiders and Cellar spiders are two more common ones you might run into in your apartment.

Do They Bite? Yes, they can but they are not intentionally out to bite humans.

a spider is one of the common NYC Apartment Bugs

How to Identify

  • Look for a bug with a rounded abdomen, 8 legs, and near a web.
  • Size: between 0.5 mm – 90 mm, depending on the species.

13. Silverfish

Silverfish are small, silver-colored insects that are quick moving and commonly found on walls, near books, bathrooms, and kitchens. They feed on a variety of things, including paper, glue, and other insects. Silverfish can damage books and other materials, and can also cause allergic reactions in some people.

Silverfish are nocturnal creatures that love to eat paper. If you have a lot of paper lying around, it might be time to declutter. In addition, they are also attracted to moisture and can set up shop underneath cabinets, behind bookshelves, and under storage boxes.

silver fish feeding on a book - Common NYC bugs
Insect feeding on paper – silverfish. Pest books and newspapers. Lepismatidae, Thermobia domestica.

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for silver bugs that have a slender body, with shiny silver scales.
  • Size: between 12mm – 19 mm.

14. Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are small, flying parasitic insects that feed on the blood of mammals, including humans. More importantly, they are most commonly found in warm, humid environments and can spread diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever.

Mosquitoes are the number one carrier of diseases and they are a pest that can get into your NYC apartment and feast on your blood. They lay their eggs in slow-moving or standing water, which you find all throughout New York City from rooftops to outdoor seating areas to the subway to planters on your patio!

In some neighborhoods, the mosquitoes are so bad that it is impossible to sit outside after dark.

Mosquito feeding on a person.

Do They Bite? Yes

How to Identify

  • Look for flying insects that make a buzzing sound.
  • Size: between 3 mm and 6 mm

15. America Roaches (Water Bugs)

American roaches are large and can fly (I had one fly at my head a few months ago) and you better believe that I screamed and ran. It was just a natural instinct that kicked in. They tend to fly more in the summer months, which is part of their mating habits.

These awful-looking roaches are terrifying when you first see one, however, you can make your apartment less inviting for them by doing a few things. One is to seal up all gaps around your pipes. Two is to run water down all of your drains once a day, if a drain dries out, one of these roaches can find their way into your apartment through the drain. Thirdly is to set out baits, these are what they will eat and bring back to their nest. Fourth is to keep all food in airtight containers and wipe down your kitchen counters and cabinets on a daily basis.

America Roaches

Do They Bite? No

How to Identify

  • Look for large amber insects with long antennas. The nymphs will have 2 prongs on their backend.
  • Size: between 34-53 mm

Final Thoughts for 15 Common NYC Apartment Bugs

That’s 15 of the most common NYC apartment bugs, and how to identify them.  We hope that this article has helped you become more familiar with some of the critters that may be living in your home and, more importantly, that you now know how to get rid of them! If all else fails and you find a bug that you are not able to ID, just email us a clear zoomed-in photo; we may be able to help!