Groups of Tiny Black Bugs on the Ceiling

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Homeowners often find a variety of insects inside their homes. Many bugs are found in unlikely places, such as on the ceiling and underneath window sills. Pillbugs and sowbugs are two tiny insects that often are found in these areas. Ants also are common and move around in colonies in search of water and shelter. Controlling insect infestations indoors requires sanitation, exclusion and application of insecticides.


Ants have a head, thorax and abdomen; they can be black in color and have a bent antennae. Some ants even have wings. These pests measure 0.08 inches to 1 inch in length. Ants live and move around in colonies that consist of the workers, queens and males. Sowbugs and pillbugs are not true insects, but crustaceans. These bugs are wingless, oval in shape and dark gray to black in color. Sowbugs and pillbugs measure 1/4 to 1/2 inches in length. These bugs typically live and feed outdoors.


When ants move inside homes, they are searching for a safe place to live, water and food. Ants often gather in crawlspaces or ceilings and may be visible crawling in large numbers. Ants make their nests in protected spaces such as attics, crawlspaces, in wall voids and around pipes. Certain species of ants bite or sting, making control measures important. Sowbugs and pillbugs move around at night and prefer moist, humid living spaces. These bugs often are accidental invaders, entering underneath eaves and through attic vents. Seeing these insects indoors means there might be large populations outside your home. Sowbugs and pillbugs survive by feeding on organic matter such as plant debris and die quickly when they wander indoors unless there is abundant moisture and high humidity inside the home.

Cultural Control

Caulk all cracks and crevices near windows, doors and around household pipes and vents to keep ants, sowbugs and pillbugs outdoors where they belong. Check your home for water leaks, and repair any, as ants, sowbugs and pillbugs are drawn to sources of moisture. Be sure your gutters and downspouts divert water away from your home. Keep leaf litter away from the foundation of your home and store rocks and wood away from the house. Long-term insect control requires minimizing moisture and eliminating places insects can hide.

Chemical Control

Since sowbugs and pillbugs do not live long indoors, there are no chemical methods recommended for control. Insecticides might help reduce infestations of ants, but you must locate the nest for maximum effectiveness. Spray entryways, around crawlspace doors and in foundation vents to keep ants outdoors where they belong. Applying insecticides around the perimeter of your home might provide a barrier that keeps ants away. Heavy infestations of ants or large colonies that are visible indoors might require a professional exterminator for optimal control.