What’s That Bug Bite? from What’s That Bug Bite?

What’s That Bug Bite?

Many bites and stings are uncomfortable, annoying and sometimes painful. In fewer cases they can be dangerous.

“Anytime you get bit by something that wants your blood, you can possibly get injected with a virus that can make you sick,” Dr. Ned Walker, a professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Entomology and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, says.

All cases have a standard reaction, he adds. There is inflammation, redness and maybe swelling. “It’s very hard to tell what bit you unless you see it happen,” Dr. Walker says. In general, bites will itch while stings will hurt.

1. Mosquito bites

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Most bites are certainly unpleasant, and can be itchy or painful or both,” Richard Levine from the Entomological Society of America, co-author of IPM for the Urban Professional: A Study Guide for the Associate Certified Entomologist, says. “Depending on where you live, some mosquitoes may have the ability to transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, dengue, or Zika.” The spot where you were bit will be itchy, round, red or pink. There may also be a skin bump. Most bites are harmless and go away after a while.

2. Fire ants stings

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Fire ants don’t bite, they sting. “If you were stung, you will get a rapid, painful feeling,” Dr. Walker says. All fire ants deliver a toxin, he adds, and some people can react severely, depending on how many stings they got. The sting will feel like it’s burning and will cause red skin bumps. They will probably be itchy and you may see white, fluid-filled pimples after a few hours. Don’t scratch.

3. Bees, wasps and hornets

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In general, stings from bees, wasps and hornets will be painful, Levine says. Some people may have allergies, and for them these stings can be dangerous or even deadly,” he adds. Sometimes the stinger may be left in the skin. If you’re not allergic, remove it and apply ice to soothe the skin. The spot will probably feel sore and itchy. If it swells, you may have an allergic reaction in which case you need to see a doctor right away.

4. Ticks

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“Ticks are probably the ones to be most worried about because they have the ability to transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other diseases,” Levine says. Ticks are common throughout the country and they live in grass, trees, shrubs and leaf piles. Most tick bites are harmless. Sometimes there are no symptoms and other times you may feel pain, swelling, a rash, burning sensation, and even blisters.

5. Fleas

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You may not know you have been bit until hours later. There will likely be more than one spot in a single area – usually 4-5. It’ll be itchy. The bite site may look like a red sore or bump. The spots may even bleed. Fleas usually go for the ankles, waist, behind the knees, the bend of the elbows and armpits. The rash may even turn white. Don’t scratch it because you may cause an infection.

6. Kissing bugs

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Kissing bugs, as their name may suggests, bite mostly at night and around the lips, Dr. Walker says. Also known as “assassin bugs,” they can be found in Southwestern U.S. The bites usually don’t hurt, but they can be itchy, swell and look like hives. The bugs carry a disease-causing parasite in their feces called Trypanosoma cruzi. It causes Chagas disease, Dr. Walker adds. When infectious bug fecal material contaminates the mucous membranes or the site of bug bite on a person, transmission of the parasite can occur, according to Texas A&M University.

7. Black Widow spider bites

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All spiders have poisons - most are harmless - but one of the most severe is in the Black Widow, Dr. Walker says. “The skin around a bite from a black widow will often turn red, with a central white area,” Levine adds. The venomous spiders hide in wood piles and tree stumps. Some bites are painless and others can cause sharp pain. Look for one or two red incisor marks at the bite site.

8. Brown Recluse spiders

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A Brown Recluse bite causes the skin to decompose and you can get an ulcer, Dr. Walker says. They live indoors and you can typically find them in basements and other places where your store things like furniture, he adds. “Spiders are predators so they will go to places where other insects are around.” These spiders’ venom is toxic. The bite can lead to wounds or an infection and you may not feel anything until hours later. The bite site will get red, possibly turn white, and look like a blister.

9. Body lice bites

Head lice are common but are really just a nuisance. Body lice, on the other hand, are less common, but are more dangerous because they can transmit diseases such as typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever, Levine says. If you are bitten, you are likely to experience intense itching, have a rash, red bumps or thickened skin. Keep good hygiene and wash your clothes and bed linens often to prevent infestations.

10. Chigger mites

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“Chigger mites are microscopic and live in soil and vegetation,” Levine says. “Bites usually occur on the ankles, groin, waist, and legs. They are annoying but are not dangerous.” Their bites don’t hurt but spots will be very itchy. You will have red welts; seek medical help if they are spreading.

11. Scabies

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You can’t see scabies mites unless you have a microscope, Dr. Walker says. Intense itching and sores are common but they won’t appear until weeks after you’ve been infected. The mites are usually seen in homes where elderly people live. The itching is treated with several drugs but diagnosing Scabies is very tricky, he adds, because the mites live under the skin. “You have to scrape and scrape until blood comes out and you look for them on a slide,” he adds.

12. Bedbugs

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You won’t know one has bitten you until you see the rash, which will sometimes not appear until hours after the bite. The annoying bugs leave itchy, red spots on the skin, usually around the arms and shoulders. The good news is that there have been no reported cases of bedbugs transmitting disease to humans. But the blood-sucking insects can cause anxiety and sleeplessness – like in the case of this stomach-churning video of a bedbug infestation in a New York hotel.

13. Puss caterpillar

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The puss caterpillar is the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States and is found mostly in southern states. It feeds on shade trees such as elm, oak, and sycamore. If you were stung, you may feel an immediate, intense pain that often comes in waves, swelling, itching rash of red blotches and raised ridges, restlessness and anxiety, according to WedMD. Vomiting, cramps and fever can also be symptoms. Some people experience only an itching or burning sensation.

14. Houseflies

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A housefly bites and it carries more than 1 million bacteria on its body. It can cause intestinal infections by contaminating food. They typically bite in early morning or late afternoon and often attack the ankles, inflicting a sharp, stabbing pain, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. To avoid bites and other problems, make sure the food and trash items are in closed containers. Using window screens can also help.

15. Deer flies

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Deer flies are one of the few types of flies that transmit disease to people in the U.S., according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever,” is a bacterial disease that can be acquired from contact with objects or infected animals, from the bites of ticks and, occasionally, from the bites of the deer fly. These flies live in forests and damp environments in general.