Feel like I'm starting to lose my mind with this one.

I'm regularly hearing a noise in at least two rooms of the house, which I can best describe as a creaking or clicking. I've listened to recordings of deathwatch beetles and it's definitely not that. It sounds almost exactly like a door creaking gently except very faint.

When present, this noise repeats in intervals of about 5 seconds. It's barely audible, just on the edge of hearing - so much so that it's almost impossible to pinpoint it to one place. I've tracked it down to above one of the cupboards in the kitchen, behind a set of shelves in the study (possibly IN the shelf) and bizarrely, an old box of tea bags.

That last one is what really throws me, but I'm 100% sure. The box was on the counter, and I was able to put my ear right up to it, and the sound was very pronounced. I was sure it was some kind of audible woodworm or something, but now that I've found it in a tea bag box I'm unsure. I emptied that tea bag box and found no bugs or insects.

The sound appears to be organic in nature, because if I make a disturbance in the area, the sound stops. In the case of the cupboard and shelves a sharp bang or shake, in the case of the tea bags I just lifted the box.

I have quite sensitive hearing and my wife can't hear the noise. She's starting to look at me funny when I talk about it. The only recording equipment I have is my phone, and that's not sensitive enough to pick it up.

I'm going to see if I can find an old laptop with a mic port and record it next time I hear it, but until then has anyone got any ideas what this could be?


It's definitely NOT a mouse. I know what a mouse sounds like, and there was no mouse in my box of tea-bags. This is something much, much smaller. Something small enough to live inside cardboard.


finally managed to capture the noise on my phone. apologies for the low sound quality. There's a lot of background noise from just the electronics in the phone. The house was completely silent last night.


You'll hear it four times in all. I've edited the track to reduce the waiting time, but the sounds were about 20-30 seconds apart

Update 2

I've since found out the bugs are called "paper-lice" and are quite fond of eating cardboard / paper (hence the name). No idea how to get rid of the little buggers but at least I know I'm not going crazy.

Here are two photos of the bugs in question: The two giant yellow things are popcorn kernels! The two giant yellow things are popcorn kernels! zoomed out slightly, so you can see the scale properly. These guys are *tiny* zoomed out slightly, so you can see the scale properly. These guys are tiny

  • The tea bag box; does it still make the sound when moved away from the kitchen, a couple of rooms away, or outside? Would all you hear be just a single sound, just reflected across different surfaces so it only appears they're separate?
    – alt
    Aug 22, 2014 at 11:35
  • 1
    Sure it isn't just pipes expanding and contracting? A banging of the cabinets might result in a quick shift that would stop the sounds. The first thing to try is pouring some very hot water down the drain for a minute. Wait and listen for a sound, then pour some cold water down the drain. Then listen again for a 30 minutes since it could also be the supply lines.
    – BMitch
    Aug 24, 2014 at 12:39
  • 2
    @BMitch not pipes either. This sound is so very quiet, its like a cricket whispering. Also I don't have pipes running through my tea bags
    – roryok
    Aug 24, 2014 at 20:58
  • 1
    A thousand thank yous for attaching a recording - this is the exact sound that I've been hearing. May 31, 2020 at 2:19

3 Answers 3


I hear the same noise and have done in a few houses. After years of chasing sounds round rooms I'm pretty sure the culprit is a tiny brown beetle I've found a few times, 1-3mm max. I'm struggling to identify it. My ex wife could hear it so I knew I wasn't going mad! It can really keep you awake for such a quiet sound!

I live in West Wales in the UK.

  • That sounds much more like it. I have seen these tiny, almost invisible bugs crawling around one food press. They look like specks of dust but then they move. haven't seen any in a while but I wonder if that's the source
    – roryok
    Aug 24, 2014 at 20:59
  • I've pretty much confirmed this tonight. Heard the noise coming from a particular shelf on a food press. Pulled out the food and found the little bugs. I also managed to get a photo. i.imgur.com/bSvnO5s.jpg The two giant yellow things are popcorn kernels! i.imgur.com/UWSv4az.jpg I think this shows how tiny these things are. It also shows off how bloody amazing the camera is on my Nokia 820!
    – roryok
    Sep 17, 2014 at 20:13
  • That's quite a loud noise from such a small bug. Jan 28, 2015 at 14:29

You may have a mouse in your wall...

  • I've had mice in other places I've lived, and I know the sound. This is not the scratching noise of a mouse. And again, the box of tea-bags negates that explanation. There was no mouse in the box of tea-bags. I feel like such a loony just having to type that sentence.
    – roryok
    Aug 22, 2014 at 7:13
  • @roryok, you certainly don't sound loony - please understand that your hearing may possibly be exeptionally acute, more so than we can understand because it's entirely outside our experience. Are you in an area subject to, say, paper louse? Or were there possibly weevils inside the tea bags? You have us guessing hard here because we can't know what limits your hearing may have. Aug 22, 2014 at 12:04
  • I live in Ireland / North west Europe. I'm not sure how prevalent paper lice are around here. We certainly get wood worm and silverfish. There were no weevils in the tea bags!
    – roryok
    Aug 22, 2014 at 14:30
  • it was paper-lice after all, thanks for the suggestion!
    – roryok
    Jul 13, 2015 at 14:38
  • @roryok: Good to know! Thanks for getting back to us about it. 8) Sep 5, 2015 at 22:53

I have the same sound and it comes from my wooden Kleenex box that I bought at Hobby Lobby. It took me awhile to pin point it. My husband thinks it is pocessed.He watched to much Ghost Whisper. My brother said it has to do with the wood contracting or something like that. However, I found your post and listened and it is the very same sound. I have actually picked it up and heard it in my lap. Like it was alive.

  • I would bet if you took it apart you'd find those tiny bugs inside. They seem to love wood. I've heard them all around the house, in picture frames and shelves
    – roryok
    Jan 28, 2015 at 16:13
  • It is a solid oak box. I called my brother out in Salt Lake City to ask him. He is a building contractor. He said wood contracts with temperature. He said it could only be one degree in change and it begins to contract. I just sit and listen to it by my chair all the time. My husband wants me to get rid of it. Lol! Jan 30, 2015 at 12:44

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