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Bugs and Your Touch Screen



Scanning Friendfeed this morning I ran across this from Layne Heiny.

[Touch Screen Problem]: A huge issue is trying to work late at night or early morning. I keep the lights off so others can sleep. Unfortunately, this means the light from the computer attracts bugs. The bugs land and change the page I am on – or open applications – or make annoying changes.

Not having a touch screen device at the moment I obviously haven’t seen this. Has anyone else? If so, chime in and let us know your insect experiences.



  1. Rob Bushway

    05/15/2009 at 6:37 am

    never experienced that before…

  2. LPH

    05/15/2009 at 6:38 am

    It’s the HP TouchSmart … and I fight it all the time.

  3. sbtablet

    05/15/2009 at 6:44 am

    Ahhhh, The Touchsmart. That makes more sense. I think if you are actually holding the computer, the bugs would be more wary of getting that close to swatting territory. Weird problem. Never had bugs bug me when using my computer on the deck at night.

  4. John in Norway

    05/15/2009 at 8:30 am

    But do the bugs have vectoring issues as well?

  5. Sumocat

    05/15/2009 at 8:33 am

    That’s the TouchSmart desktop, right? (The tx2 is also part of the Touchsmart line.) If so, I know why you’re having that problem. I was puzzled by how a bug could trigger either a resistive or capacitive touchscreen. But it makes perfect sense on a TouchSmart desktop because it uses IR sensors for “touch” input. IR detects proximity, not physical contact, so technically it’s not touch input (can function without a surface), but a practical facsimile. Because the TouchSmart is calibrated to react to the point of a stylus, even the feather-light touch of an insect (or feather) could break the infrared beams and trigger a command, as long as it’s bigger than a pen point.

    Mystery solved, and no need for us non-TouchSmart owners to worry about this. Not sure about Microsoft Surface though, but since it also uses optical input, I’d assume a large enough bug would be recognized. Might need “insect recognition” or something.

  6. Rob Bushway

    05/15/2009 at 10:20 am

    sounds like a bug to me…;-)

  7. SAM

    05/15/2009 at 11:12 am

    Add a 120v charge to the screen and your computer will double as a bg zapper—

    They didn’t state how large the bugs were. We have pine beetles that are almost 3.5″ long and they are heavy for
    no larger than they are…

  8. Mickey Segal

    05/15/2009 at 7:47 pm

    Can you use a dead bug as a pen?

  9. Sara Fauzia

    05/17/2009 at 5:59 pm

    This definitely happens. It used to happen more with my Sony Vaio than my ThinkPad, but the Vaio wasn’t even touchscreen-enabled (rather, an old model from 2006), so it was just the computer light attracting the insects. I suppose it happens more often when you live nearby a lot of trees and wildlife, like I do.

  10. DaveTN

    05/17/2009 at 9:28 pm

    LOL… I posted on about how my touchsmart is “bugging me”. On a couple occasions, flying bugs as small as a gnat have landed on my screen and opened my browser and several web pages.
    Apparently the touchsmarts touch input is quite sensitive.


  11. DaveTN

    05/17/2009 at 9:31 pm

    BTW, Mickey, nope, the bugs dont work as pens…unless you train them. Hmmm, sounds like a neat experiment to test bug intelligence. Something like finding its way through a maze or solving a puzzle.

    As far as getting squished bugs off the screen, HP provides a nice microfiber cloth except you have to shut it down to use it.

    And yes, I’m talking about the Touchsmart all in one, not the laptop.


  12. Patti

    10/26/2011 at 5:39 am

    Having the same problem on my Dell Inspiron One Touchscreen. I finally stopped using it last evening when the little flying guys were making blips all over the screen and changing my pages. I left it on overnight and when I got up this morning there were 10 new screens opened, my toolbar was moved to the left side of the screen, my sounds were changed, and my wallpaper was changed! It sure puts a new slant on the computer term “bug”!

    • Jim Brown

      11/28/2011 at 3:05 am

      Hello Patti,
                   I have a Dell Inspiron One 2310 and the tiny insects that are even small enough to get through the insect screen on my window at night are driving me crazy by opening new windows and triggering commands on my touch screen. I’ve spoken to Dell technicians about this and there are apparently no settings to adjust the touch sensitivity of the screen which is an absolute bummer.
      (Come on Dell let’s have a solution to this dilemma) Actually the screen is so sensitive that you dont even have to touch it, you just have to put the tip of your finger near the surface of the screen!
      Sorry but we dont need the smart arse comments such as “training the bugs”, this is a serious issue to the affected.
      Jim in Oz

  13. Anonymous

    01/06/2012 at 11:58 pm

    I’m happy to have found these posts.  I have a new Sony all-in-one and was beginning to develop some serious paranoia.  Finding my screen rearranged in the morning – mail opened, calendar  ready for new entries, screen settings changed and so forth.  Thoughts of HAL were beginning to take shape.  Virus scans were unproductive; the kids have been out on their own for 10 years.  The cat can’t type worth a damn.

    Insomnia ensues so hitting the computer a few minutes ago, I notice screen activity – Outlook is opening calendar items, my AVG virus program is looking to download something and my Chrome screens have gone east a few hundred pixels.

    Diagnosis was immediate –  Drosophila melanogaster.  The brute must have been wearing combat boots.  No virus, just a bug.  Good bug = dead bug; goodbye fruit fly.

  14. Dave Hutchinson

    08/16/2012 at 10:32 pm

    I echo all of Anonymous’ comments especially about suspicion developing into paranoia. There have been several “What the F…” mornings and I have spent lengthy sessions trying to diagnose to no avail. Tonight I watched in a perfect Eureka moment in my darkened den when a moth landed on the HP Touchsmart screen. I then googled “touchscreen bug” to find this post. Amazing how much better I feel now! Thank you.

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