How to Identify Common Bug Bites
Let’s face it, to some bugs we’re nothing but a meal ticket. Mosquitos, fleas, ticks, and bed bugs want to drink our blood and cockroaches can survive on flakes of our skin. Some bugs are just nasty—bees and fire ants don’t want to eat us, they just want us to feel pain. So, as the red welts of summer rise on your skin, let’s have a close look at bug bites so you can identify the ones that bit you.
Unfortunately these days, bed bug infestations have reached pandemic proportions in the U.S. and the number of people suffering from their bites has skyrocketed. The reddish-brown, wingless insects come out at night to suck their victim’s blood, and as a result can leaving behind red welts on the face, neck, arms, legs, and hands.
After bed bugs, fleas are probably the most common parasites. Fleas prefer to drink the blood of four-legged mammals like our beloved pets. But fleas will also bite humans, especially those who share a bed or couch with pets. When fleas bite, they create raised red bumps with reddened haloes. Flea saliva contains a nasty substance that can causes painful, incessant itching in some people. Flea bites can also transmit diseases, harmful bacteria, and parasites such as tapeworms. If your pet has flea bites take pity on your furry friend and treat them with a monthly flea medicine.
If you think fleas are small, try finding a mite. They’re microscopic; some are virtually invisible to the naked eye, others are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. But mites are parasites which can be found on birds and mammals like rodents. Sometimes they are transferred to humans. Mite bites may leave red rash-like marks on the skin and cause irritation and itching. When mites bite dogs, it can cause mange.
While people often fear cockroach bites, they are fairly uncommon. Cockroaches are afraid of people and will not approach us unless we are asleep. If you are bitten by a roach it will leave a red, swollen bump on the skin. However, such bites are most likely from spiders, ticks, or fleas.
The worst come from agitated fire ants whose venom creates a red-hot burning sensation. Within 24 hours, the wound turns into a raised white pustule which can last about a week. Don’t scratch the pustules, no matter how itchy they are. If the wound breaks open, it can become infected. Most people survive fire ant stings but those who are allergic to bee stings should seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a fire ant. Their venom can cause swelling in the mouth or throat, difficulty breathing, hives, nausea, and vomiting.