Identifying Bug Bites – The Ultimate Guide with Pictures and Charts
An unidentified rash of any sort can be cause for concern. Skin rashes and welts can be caused by unusual and rare diseases, parasites, food, or environmental allergies, and of course bug bites. Most of the time, when a bug bites, you know it! You feel the pinch and knock the insect to the ground. However, sometimes, you won’t immediately notice the bug but later notice the bite. This is when the detective work begins. These articles are designed to help you identify what bug bit you and what you can do about it. In addition to detailed descriptions and pictures of bug bites, these articles will describe the habits and characteristics of the insects in question. Circumstantial evidence can sometimes help you identify the bug bite and eliminate the infestation.
There is great variability in how bug bites may appear. Many different insect bites look similar to each other. Bug bites can also look like rashes and environmental allergic reactions. Every person reacts differently to bug bites and an individual’s reaction can change over time. Insect bites are look different on each person, but some common characteristics can help you identify the source of the bite and eliminate the troublesome pests from your home and yard.
Bug Bite Overview
Insects are the most diverse group of organisms on planet Earth. Scientists have identified and named over 900,000 species of insects, with many more still unidentified. Estimating the number of still un-named insects, scientists approximate that there may be between 2 and 30 million distinct insect species. Cumulatively, it is estimated that there are some 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive at any given time. With these staggering numbers, it is no small feat that we are not completely inundated with insects and venomous bug bites and stings more common.
The truth is, most bugs would prefer to mind their business and go about their work of building their nest and growing their colony. Very few species of bugs actively prey upon humans. The few insect species that require mammalian blood will bite humans, but most insects survive on nectar or honeydew, vegetation, meat, and other human scraps they find. Bugs that bite and sting people range from flying and creeping insects to arachnids. Some bugs that bite inject venom while others simply pierce the skin and suck your blood. However, most insect bites are because we humans have incurred into their space and most bugs bite because they are protecting their home and nest.
Should I Be Concerned About a Bug Bite
Most reactions to bug bites are minor and require no medical attention. However, some bug bites can cause severe reactions and sometimes even rare and unusual diseases. If you or your child is bitten by a bug, and you are concerned, try to capture the insect. By properly identifying the insect, you will know what signs and symptoms to be on the look-out for. If capturing the insect is impossible, take photographs of the insect, the nest, the location, and the progression of the bite. Most of the time, minor bug bites can be addressed at home with simple first aid remedies, but occasionally a bug bite can have serious consequences.
Most people that experience severe reactions to bug bites have an allergy to the saliva or venom of the bug. Redness, welts, and itchiness are common, but if you experience any swelling, tightness of the throat, or inability to breathe you should seek medical attention immediately. Many people with known allergies carry injectable epinephrine, or an EpiPen, with them at all times. Allergic reactions can result from mosquitoes, bed bugs, bee and wasp stings, and ant bites.
Scratching itchy bites puts you at risk for infection. Children in particular, may have less control over scratching bug bites. When the skin is broken and whitish or yellow pus is oozing from the bite site, the bug bite has likely become infected. To gain control over the infection, this condition should be treated by a medical professional quickly. However, most bites are nothing to be concerned about. Of course, knowing the risk factors associated with the type of insect that bit you, will help you to better manage any short and long-term consequences.
Types of Bugs that Bite
Each species of insect that bites have different characteristics and concerns. Some insects are known to carry and spread disease while others may cause severe allergic reactions. Many insects rarely cause severe reactions, they simply cause irritating red itchy bumps. Below are detailed articles on each insect species that commonly bite humans. If you don’t know what kind of bug bit you, we invite you to explore these articles and review the pictures of the bites. An accurate bug bite identification will allay your fears and allow you to properly treat the bug bite. Nextgen Pest Solutions can help you identify a bug bite, locate the problem pest areas in your home and yard, and treat the bugs that are biting.
Bed Bug Bites
Throughout the centuries, bed bugs have gone by many descriptive names. Scientists refer to bed bugs as Cimex lectularius Linnaeus; Cimex being the Latin word for bug and lectularius the Latin word for couch or bed. The Greeks called bed bugs coris meaning to bite. The Spanish word for bug is chinche, and Spanish speaking people often refer to them as chinche de cama, directly translated to bug of the bed. Aside from multiple curses being thrown their way throughout the years, bed bugs have been referred to as a bed louse, wall louse, wallpaper flounder, night rider, red coat, mahogany flat, and crimson rambler. Whatever name you choose, the bites of these pests can cause many sleepless nights.
Best known to pet owners, fleas are a common biting pest that feeds on animal and human blood. Fleas are small – less than 1/10th inch long – making them difficult to spot if they’re in a pet’s fur. They are reddish-brown and have no wings, although they can jump long distances.
In most cases, fleas can come into your home by hitching a ride on your dog or cat, although wildlife pests like rats and squirrels can also introduce fleas. Once on a host or in your home, a flea population can grow quickly. Female fleas lay hundreds of eggs per day around your home in carpet, upholstery, bedding, and in the floor.
Flea bites are often itchy for both pets and humans. If your dog or cat is scratching frequently, it could be a sign of fleas. In rare cases, flea bites can also cause allergic reactions in humans that require immediate medical attention.
A type of arachnid (loosely related to spiders), ticks are especially risky for their potential to transmit diseases to their hosts. While the appearance of a tick will vary between species and age, ticks are round and small, usually less than ¼” long. They range from medium to dark brown.
In general, ticks live in grass, wooded areas, and in brush, so it is not uncommon to find them in yards. They do not typically travel into homes, but they may bite when you brush by where they are waiting, and as soon as they bite they latch on and do not let go.
Wasp and Bee Stings
Bug Bite Treatment Recommendations
Most bug bites produce minor reactions that can be treated at home with products from your first aid kit. However, seek medical treatment if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the lips, throat, or eyes
- Dizziness or light-headed
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
If you are assisting someone who has any of these symptoms, ask them if they carry an EpiPen. If so, inform emergency medical personnel and follow their advice. Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. Do not give them anything to eat or drink. Any person experiencing anaphylactic reactions as described above should be taken to the emergency room as soon as possible.
If a reaction to bug bite is minor, such as a typical mosquito or ant bite, at home treatment is likely appropriate. The first step is to get away from the insect activity to prevent additional bites or stings. If you have stepped in a fire ant mound, get to a safe place, and brush all the ants off of your feet, toes, pant legs, and anywhere else they may have crawled. Once you are safely out of danger, you can begin to treat the bug bites.
- If a stinger is present (a bee sting) remove the stinger with tweezers
- Wash the area with soap and water
- Apply a cool compress, such as a wet cloth or a cloth filled with ice
- Apply hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or baking soda paste to the bite
- If itching persists, consider taking an antihistamine
Preventing a secondary infection is paramount in treating bug bites. The key to preventing infection is to prevent scratching. Especially in young children, you may need to cover the bites with gauze or band-aides to keep them from scratching the bug bites. In addition to hydrocortisone cream, some natural bug bite remedies may help to alleviate the itch and prevent scratching. One of the most popular home remedies for bug bites is to apply a baking soda paste to the affected area. Combine 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water to create a thick paste. Apply this paste to the bites, pat dry to create a thin film over the bite.
When our body reacts to a bug bite, it produces histamines, which causes the reaction like the red itchy welts. An antihistamine blocks the effects of the histamines, thereby reducing the effect of the bug bite. Antihistamines come in many different formulations, liquid, pill form, nasal spray, and even eye drops, but many people find these drugs make them extremely drowsy. Despite the drowsiness, an antihistamine may be needed to prevent scratching thereby preventing infection.
Generally, mild bug bites are resolved in 3-5 days. If symptoms do not improve and redness or hives begin to spread, seek medical attention.
Pest Control to Prevent Bug Bites
Preventing general household pests around your home and business can keep you from getting bit. If ants, spiders, and mosquitoes are actively being treated and prevented, you are less likely to encounter bug bites. A responsible pest control program not only treats insects in and around your home, but it also implements Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to prevent bugs from getting indoors. Productive use of IPM protocols require modifying the structure and environment to prevent insects from gaining access to our homes and businesses and applying pesticides where appropriate. This environmentally conscious approach to pest control ensures your family is protected from biting bugs. From fire ants to mosquitoes and anything else that stings or bites, Nextgen Pest Solutions has a pest control program to treat whatever bug is biting at your home.