Cedarcide blog post image, What bit me, how to ID common Bug Bites

Bug bites happen. And usually by the time you start itching, the bug that got you is long gone. Being able to properly identify a bug bite can not only help you more efficiently treat it, but can be critical in the event your bite becomes a serious medical concern, like in the case of venomous spiders and occasionally ticks and mosquitoes. Below you’ll find some of the most common biting bugs in America, along with info to help identify their bites, and what a typical reaction to that bite might look like.

   

Ants are one of the most common biting and stinging insects found in the U.S. While rarely a serious medical concern, their bites and stings can be quite unpleasant, especially if you live in the south where so called “fire ants” are commonplace.

Ant bites usually look like small red bumps surrounded by red skin, with a white pus-filled head in the middle. 

 

Unlike ants—which typically bite out of fear or aggression—fleas bite because they’re hungry. These little vampires live off mammal and bird blood and unfortunately we humans are no exception. 

Flea bites look not dissimilar to ant bites—essentially, they’re just little red bumps. They usually occur in a cluster of three of four bites and are typically found on the ankles, feet, and lower leg. 

 

When ticks bite, they can hang onto their victims for up to 10 days, which usually makes identifying a tick bite quite easy. Preferring warm, moist locations, tick bites are normally found in hidden areas like the armpit, groin, or on your scalp.

If the tick is no longer attached, identification can be difficult, as tick bites look similar to many other bites: red, irritated skin with mild swelling. There are a couple of main differences though, tick bites, unlike ant and other common insect bites and stings, are not typically filled with pus or any other fluid and rarely if ever cause pain or discomfort.

Because of the potentially serious consequences of a tick bite, contact a physician if you experience any of the following: 

  • Unusual rashes at or near the bite site. 
  • Intense pain or irritation
  • Fever
  • Extreme Lethargy
  • Body aches
  • Flu-like symptoms. 
  • Any other signs or symptoms of infection
  • Dizziness or nausea 
 

Few things can ruin outside time like a cloud of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. While intensely itchy in the moment, mosquito bites usually subside quickly, leaving little to no trace in just a few days. Rarely, however, a mosquito bite can cause more serious reactions, like swelling, soreness, blisters, localized pain, hives, even fever.

Mosquito bites tend to produce a puffy, pink bump about the size of a dime initially that hardens and becomes larger over time. Frequent scratching can lead to more severe reactions and in extreme cases infection 

Because of the potentially serious nature of mosquito bites, contact a physician if you experience any of the following: 

  • Large or otherwise unusual swelling and redness
  • Hives
  • Headache
  • Body aches 
  • Flu-like symptoms. 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Any other signs or symptoms of infection
  • Dizziness or nausea 
 

The bites of horseflies, deer flies, sand flies, and even some house flies can pack a surprisingly painful punch.

Like most of the bites on this list, fly bites generally cause swelling, skin irritation, and redness at the bite site. Bumps, blisters, rashes, and welts are also common. Fly bites usually occur on the feet, ankles, lower leg, and on the neck and face area. 

Because of the potentially serious nature of some fly bites, contact a physician if you experience any of the following: 

  • Large or otherwise unusual swelling and redness
  • Hives
  • Headache
  • Body aches 
  • Flu-like symptoms. 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Any other signs or symptoms of infection
  • Dizziness or nausea 
 

Unlike ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes, thankfully spiders do not transmit disease. In fact, they often make meals out of the biting and stinging insects outlined above, for the most part leaving humans alone unless they feel threatened. 

Often about as painful as a bee sting, spider bites tend to cause red, irritated skin with swelling, occasionally accompanied by a rash at the bite site. In some cases, you may even be able to pinpoint two small puncture wounds where the spider’s fangs pierced the skin (don’t worry, it sounds worse than it really is). In rare cases, nausea and dizziness may also occur.

If you experience severe or otherwise unexpected symptoms after a spider bite, or suspect the individual might be venomous like a black widow or brown recluse, contact a physician immediately.

 

Mite bites are among the hardest bites to identify. Firstly, nearly all mites are microscopic or near microscopic, making a proper diagnosis often impossible. And secondly, reactions to mite bites vary greatly, and are often confused with other causes of dermatitis. 

Chiggers are arguably the easiest mite bite to identify. Also known as harvest mites and berry bugs, chiggers live in grassy areas during the spring and summer months, waiting for unsuspecting victims to walk by so they can feed. They latch on, feed on your skin cells for several hours, and then fall off to complete their life cycle. Only a few minutes in chigger-infested areas can leave you with dozens of blisters, rashes, and hives that can itch and hurt for literally months, which can be a real downer during beach season, believe us.

Reddish welts that cause extreme skin irritation once the chigger drops off, these bites almost always occur on areas of the body where skin and clothing are in tight proximity, such as near your socks, waistband, armpits, groin, legs, and back. If you experienced bites that sound like this shortly after exploring the outdoors or sitting in grass, chances are they’re chigger bites. 

The bites of other mites, like bird mites and rodent mites, however, aren’t so easy to pinpoint. Reactions can vary from extreme pain and hives to subtler symptoms like mild irritation or a feeling that something’s crawling on your skin. While these types of mites typically prefer non-human hosts, it’s not extremely uncommon for these mites to affect entire households, and sometimes even their pets. 

Bites from bird and rodent mites tend to share one common characteristic: skin irritation. Sometimes it’s mild, sometimes it’s severe. If you’re experiencing unknown bug bites with no obvious source, it could have mites. 

Sadly for some individuals, mites can be a debilitating, long term problem that can be difficult to get under control. If you’re struggling with mites, we can help. Call us at 800-842-1464 and find relief starting today. 

 
 

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