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What insect bit me: Did a Bee Sting Me? Treatment Options, Allergic Reactions, Home Remedies, and More


Is Something Biting Me?

Many people suffer from the feeling that insects, mites, or other tiny creatures known as arthropods are biting them, crawling on them, or burrowing in their skin. Frequently, the causes of these feelings are unknown and no tiny creature can be captured for analysis.

What Types of Tiny Arthropods Could Be Affecting Me?

Very few creatures are parasites in the skin of humans. In northern areas such as Pennsylvania, most of these are mites such as scabies (human itch) mites, chigger mites, or follicle mites.1

Scabies mites are very tiny and can only be diagnosed by a physician taking skin scrapings and viewing them under high magnification. Most scabies infestations are located in the skin folds of the hands, wrists, and elbows. Scabies mites usually begin to itch several weeks to a month after infestation. They do not produce a biting or crawling sensation.

Chigger mites are more common in the southern states, especially during the warmer months of the year. They are acquired when people walk though high grass and weeds. “Chiggers” do not live in structures or buildings. They produce an intense itching, usually where clothing fits tight against the skin such as the waist, wrists, and lower leg. Technically, chiggers do not burrow in the skin. Instead they attach themselves to the base of a hair and excrete a chemical that causes the skin to swell, thus enclosing the mite in the expanded flesh. They feed on fluids generated at the site. Chigger mites do not produce a biting sensation.

Follicle mites are found on approximately 75 percent of the human population. The vast majority of people don’t know they exist even though there may be hundreds or thousands of them in the oil glands of the face. Occasionally, some individuals (mostly teenagers) will have an acne-like condition because of a reaction to the mites. Most adults have no reaction to the mites.

Tiny Arthropods That Live on the Skin

The two types of human lice commonly encountered are head lice and pubic lice. Both species are white, small (but can be seen without magnification), and are usually found in the area of the body described by their names. Their biting causes an intense itching in those regions. The eggs of both the head and pubic louse are found on hair shafts at the skin level and are called nits. Nits are whitish, somewhat translucent eggs that are glued on the base of the hair. Over time, as the hair grows, the nits will be found farther from the skin surface.

Pubic louse

Head louse

Tiny Arthropods That Bite the Skin

Some of the very small arthropods that do bite but do not burrow or live within the skin include fleas, bed bugs, mosquitoes, black flies, punkies (a small biting fly), bird or rodent mites, and straw itch mites. Although these arthropods are small, they can be seen without the aid of magnification.

Fleas usually bite the lower legs and are brown in color and flattened from side to side. The bites of fleas can be felt immediately. Fleas can be difficult to catch because of their ability to jump, but they are easy to see without magnification. Most fleas that homeowners might find are approximately 1/8 inch in length. Fleas can be found in homes where pets are (or were) infested or from wild animals that get into attics and chimneys.

Cat flea

Bed bugs are oval, chestnut brown insects that are flattened from top to bottom. The adults are approximately 1/4 inch in length. Bed bugs feed during the night or early morning hours. They frequently go unnoticed because many people have no reaction to the bites and there is no sensation when a bite occurs. Some people, however, do have a reaction to the bites. The site of the bite becomes reddened, raised, and begins to itch–sometimes intensely.

Bed bug

Flies such as mosquitoes, black flies, and punkies occasionally will enter homes (during the summer) but will not reproduce in the structure. They can be seen without the aid of magnification and the sensation of biting is immediate. Although punkies (also known as no-see-ums) are very small (1.6 millimeter or about the width of an “a” on this page), they have a very noticeable, stinging bite.

Bird and rodent mites can become problems in buildings for short periods of time, particularly in the early summer when birds nest in holes of buildings or if infested rats have been removed from a building. Although these mites are small, they can be seen without magnification, especially when they walk across a light-colored surface. These mites are typically brown in color. The bites of these mites feel like a slight sting–noticeable but not very painful.

Straw itch mites are predators on other small creatures that infest grains and stored products. They feed on the eggs and larvae of moths and beetles that are pests of stored products. On rare occasions, people who work in feed stores, seed package companies, and similar places will be bitten by these mites (the mites are only tasting the skin). Their bites result in pain and an eventual reddened, small, raised bump. The mites rarely infest homes unless there are vast numbers of stored products pests present. The adult mites can be seen without aid of magnification, but the immature mites cannot. It is highly unlikely that a residence would be infested with straw itch mites.

If It Is Not an Arthropod, What Else Could It Be?

Disease or Other Medical Conditions

Several medical conditions may cause a sensation that feels like insects biting or crawling on the skin. Some of these medical conditions are cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, eczema, fungal infections, hepatitis, hypothyroidism, liver disease, nutritional deficiencies (and excesses), sensitivity to light, kidney disease, shingles, and other neurological disorders.

Materials in the Environment

Many items in the physical environment can also cause the same sensations. Some of these items are chemicals, cosmetics, detergents, disinfectants, dyes, fiberglass, carpet and clothing fibers, paper shards, perfumes, resins, static electricity, and many items too numerous to list. Frequently, these sensations occur in the winter months and are intensified by low humidity and heavy clothing.


Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal) that can cause the sensation of crawling or biting arthropods include amphetamines, antibiotics, arthritis medications, aspirin, cocaine, cold remedies, estrogen, heroin, hypertension medications, PCP, and various seizure-control medications. Older people may be more sensitive to these medications or combinations of medications.

What Should I Do?

Contact your family physician or dermatologist and describe the sensations you are experiencing. If possible, take a sample of what you think is biting you. Remember, most biting pests can be seen without the aid of magnification. If your physician is unsure of the identification of the sample, he/she should submit it to your local hospital or pathology lab for analysis. If need be, the sample can be forwarded to Penn State’s Department of Entomology2 for species identification. A written report will be returned to the lab or physician in charge. Contact the Department of Entomology to determine possible costs for these reports.

What Not to Do!

This is very important! Until you have determined what is causing the condition, do not apply insecticides or repellents to household items, pets, or yourself. Doing so when there is no physical evidence of a specific arthropod could worsen rather than improve your condition.

Do not apply excessive amounts of lotions, conditioners, salves, or unconventional home remedies such as mayonnaise, petroleum jelly, gasoline, or other materials in the hope that they may provide relief.

Do not contract to have a professional pest control company apply pesticides to your home unless (1) you have a sample of the pest to show to the technician and (2) it is a pest that can be treated effectively with insecticides.

1. In tropical locations, certain fly larvae (maggots) can infest the skin, and patients that have visited these locations should advise their physicians of their travels. Occasionally, immobile and obese patients in Pennsylvania have exhibited myiasis from bot fly larvae, which normally attack rabbits, mice, and other small mammals. The infestations are characterized by a hole in the skin, surrounded by swelling and redness, and the white larvae can be seen moving within the opening. Note that this is an extremely painful, localized, and rare condition.

2. Special Insect ID, Penn State Department of Entomology, 501 Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building, University Park, PA 16802; phone: 814-865-1895.

Prepared by Steven B. Jacobs, senior extension associate, Department of Entomology. Reviewed/edited by Priscilla S. Carman, literacy specialist, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy; and David R. Adams, M.D., Hershey Medical Center.

Something’s biting me, but I can’t see it! | Cooperative Extension

Summer brings a lot of insect activity, and many people experience bites. Some of these are from insects that can be seen, for example, mosquitoes.   However, sometimes all that can be seen are the bites, leaving the affected persons wondering what bit them. Occasionally people are aware of small insects flying around them, but do not actually see them biting.  These bites may be from small biting midges, often called “no-see-ums”.  They are also known as punkies or sand flies.  
No-see-ums in Arizona mostly belong to the genus Culicoides, in the family Certopogonidae. They belong to the insect order Diptera, which also includes mosquitoes, midges and other biting and non-biting flies.

Appearance: The adults are small, dark flies, 1/8th to 1/4th inch in length, barely visible to the naked eye. They have short, stocky bodies with a shiny thorax (back) (Figure 1). On close observation or under a microscope, they may appear like miniature mosquitoes (Figure 2).

Biting concerns: Adult females need blood meals for their eggs to develop. Both males and females feed on pollen and nectar, but the males are not a biting concern to humans or other animals. The females feed on blood from various host animals including humans and cause painful and irritating bites, that may be accompanied by allergic reactions.
Bites usually appear as small red welts (about 1/8 th inch in diameter ) or water-filled blisters, that itch intensely (Figure 3). The welts or blisters can break open and bleed on scratching, and the itching may continue. Sensitive persons may develop long-lasting painful and itchy lesions.

Vectors: Some of the blood-feeding species vector pathogens including bacteria, viruses, protozoa and filarial worms. Bites from Culicoides spp. are known to cause an allergic reaction known as ‘sweet itch’ in horses. One species (Culicoides sonorensis) is known to transmit the bluetongue virus, a serious disease of sheep and cattle.

No-see-ums are seen in largest numbers in the summer, but in places with warm winters, they can occur year-round. They are usually active during dawn or dusk, and often go unnoticed owing to their small size. Both sexes cause great annoyance during outdoor activities, in almost any habitat near water sources such as near springs, ponds or lakes, river banks, beaches, and swamps. They are also reported from plains as well as mountain areas. In urban areas, they can breed in any muddy or moist location, such as over-irrigated mulch or sod, tree holes, new construction sites, indoor plant pots, and even water from air-conditioners.


Insect bites and stings: First aid

Most reactions to insect bites and stings are mild, causing little more than redness, itching, stinging or minor swelling. Rarely, insect bites and stings, such as from a bee, a wasp, a hornet, a fire ant or a scorpion, can result in severe reactions. Some insects also carry disease, such as West Nile virus.

For mild reactions

To take care of an insect bite or sting that causes a mild reaction:

  • Move to a safe area to avoid more bites or stings.
  • If needed, remove the stinger.
  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cool compress. Use a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice. This helps reduce pain and swelling. If the injury is on an arm or leg, elevate it.
  • Apply 0.5 or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a baking soda paste to the bite or sting several times daily until your symptoms go away.
  • Take an antihistamine (Benadryl, others) to reduce itching.

Usually, the signs and symptoms of a bite or sting disappear in a day or two. If you’re concerned — even if your reaction is minor — call your doctor.

When to seek emergency care

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the injured person experiences:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, eyelids or throat
  • Dizziness, faintness or confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Nausea, cramps or vomiting
  • A scorpion sting and is a child

Take these actions immediately while waiting for medical help:

  • Ask the person if he or she is carrying an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, others) to treat an allergic attack.
  • If the person says he or she needs to use an autoinjector, ask whether you should help inject the medication. This is usually done by pressing the autoinjector against the person’s thigh and holding it in place for several seconds.
  • Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. Don’t give him or her anything to drink.
  • If the person is vomiting, position him or her to prevent choking.
  • Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing or movement.


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Show references

  1. AskMayoExpert. Stinging insect allergy. Rochester, Minn. : Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  2. Stinging insect allergy: Tips to remember. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/stinging-insect-allergy.aspx. Accessed Jan. 9, 2018.
  3. LoVecchio F. Scorpion envenomation causing neuromuscular toxicity (United States, Mexico, Central America, and Southern Africa). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 9, 2018.
  4. Kermott CA, et al., eds. Emergencies and urgent care. In: Mayo Clinic Guide to Self-Care. 7th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  5. Insect stings. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/bites_and_stings/insect_stings.html. Accessed Jan. 9, 2018.
  6. What to do in a medical emergency. Bites and stings. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou. org/Emergency-101/Emergencies-A-Z/Bites-and-Stings/. Accessed Jan. 9, 2018.
  7. Castells MC. Insect bites. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 9, 2018.
  8. Campbell RL, et al. Anaphylaxis: Emergency treatment. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 9, 2018.

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Insect Bite

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Bite from an insect (bug)
  • Bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, ticks and spiders are not covered. See those care guides.

Symptoms of Insect Bites

  • Insect bites usually cause a small red bump.
  • Often, it looks like localized hives (one large one or several small ones).
  • Sometimes, a small water blister occurs in the center of the bump. This is common in younger children.
  • Itchy Insect Bites. Bites of mosquitoes, chiggers (harvest mites), fleas, and bedbugs usually cause itchy, red bumps.
  • Painful Insect Bites. Bites of horseflies, deer flies, and gnats usually cause a painful, red bump. Fire ants, harvester ants, blister beetles, and centipedes also cause a painful, red bump. Within a few hours, fire ant bites can change to blisters or pimples.

Cause of Insect Bite Reaction

  • The skin bumps are the body’s reaction to the insect’s saliva.
  • While the bug is sucking blood, some of its secretions get mixed in.

Anaphylaxis With Insect Bites: Very Rare

  • A severe life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
  • The main symptoms are difficulty breathing and swallowing starting within 2 hours of the sting. Onset usually is within 20 minutes.
  • Anaphylaxis can occur with bee, yellow jacket, wasp, or fire ant stings. Anaphylactic reactions are very rare after other insect bites. Reason: other insects don’t have venom.

Problems Caused by Insect Bites

  • Impetigo. A local bacterial infection. Gives sores, soft scabs and pus. Caused by scratching or picking at the bites. More common in itchy bites.
  • Cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads into the skin. Gives redness spreading out from the bite. The red area is painful to the touch.
  • Lymphangitis. This is a bacterial infection that spreads up the lymph channels. Gives a red line that goes up the arm or leg. More serious because the infection can get into the bloodstream. (This is called sepsis.)

When to Call for Insect Bite

Call 911 Now

  • Past life-threatening allergic reaction to same insect bite (not just hives) and bitten less than 2 hours ago
  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Hoarse voice, cough, or tightness in the throat or chest
  • Trouble swallowing, drooling or slurred speech
  • Hard to wake up
  • Acts or talks confused
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Hives or swelling all over the body
  • More than 20 fire ant stings in a child less than 1 year old
  • Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Severe pain and not better 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • New redness around the bite starts more than 24 hours after the bite
  • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness gets larger
  • Redness or red streak around the bite gets larger than 1 inch (2. 5 cm)
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • Scab that looks infected (drains pus or gets bigger) not better with antibiotic ointment
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal insect bite
  • Questions about insect repellents (such as DEET)

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

Care Advice for Insect Bites

Treatment for Insect Bites

  1. What You Should Know About Insect Bites:
    • Most insect bites cause a red bump. Some are larger (like a hive). Some have a small water blister in the center. These are normal reactions to an insect bite.
    • A large hive at the bite does not mean your child has an allergy.
    • The redness does not mean the bite is infected.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Itchy Insect Bite Treatment:
    • Steroid Cream. To reduce the itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid). No prescription is needed. Put it on 3 times a day until the itch is gone. If you don’t have, use a baking soda paste until you can get some.
    • If neither is available, use ice in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
    • Also, you can put firm, sharp, direct, steady pressure on the bite. Do this for 10 seconds to reduce the itch. A fingernail, pen cap, or other object can be used.
    • Allergy Medicine. If the bite is still itchy, try an allergy medicine (such as Benadryl). No prescription is needed. Sometimes it helps, especially in allergic children.
  3. Painful Insect Bite Treatment:
    • Soak a cotton ball in a baking soda solution. Rub the bite with it for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this once. This will usually reduce the pain.
    • You can also use an ice cube in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol). Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Use as needed.
    • For painful bites, allergy medicines don’t help.
  4. Antibiotic Ointment for Infected Bite:
    • If the insect bite has a scab on it and the scab looks infected, use an antibiotic ointment. An example is Polysporin. No prescription is needed. Use 3 times per day. (Note: Usually impetigo is caused by scratching with dirty fingers).
    • Cover the scab with a bandage (such as Band-Aid). This will help prevent scratching and spread.
    • Wash the sore and use the antibiotic ointment 3 times per day. Cover it with a clean bandage each time. Do this until healed.
    • Caution: For spreading infections (redness or red streaks), your child needs to be seen.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Most insect bites are itchy for several days.
    • Any pinkness or redness usually lasts 3 days.
    • The swelling may last 7 days.
    • Insect bites of the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye. This is harmless.
    • The swelling is usually worse in the morning after lying down all night. It will improve after standing for a few hours.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe pain lasts more than 2 hours after pain medicine
    • Infected scab not better after 48 hours of antibiotic ointment
    • Bite looks infected (spreading redness gets bigger after 48 hours)
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Prevention of Insect Bites

  1. Prevention Tips:
    • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat.
    • Avoid being outside when the bugs are most active. Many insects that cause itchy bites are most active at sunrise or sunset. Examples are chiggers, no-see-ums, and mosquitoes.
    • Insect repellents that contain DEET are helpful in preventing many insect bites. Read the label carefully.
  2. DEET Products: Use on the Skin.
    • DEET is a very effective bug repellent. It also repels ticks and other insects.
    • The AAP approves DEET use over 2 months of age. Use 30% DEET or less. Use 30% DEET if you need 6 hours of protection. Use 10% DEET if you only need protection for 2 hours. (AAP 2003).
    • Don’t put DEET on the hands if your child sucks on their thumb or fingers. (Reason: prevent swallowing DEET.)
    • Warn older children who apply their own DEET to use less. A total of 3 or 4 drops can protect the whole body.
    • Put it on exposed areas of skin. Do not use near the eyes or mouth. Do not use on skin that is covered by clothing. Don’t put DEET on sunburns or rashes. Reason: DEET can be easily absorbed in these areas.
    • Wash it off with soap and water when your child comes indoors.
    • Caution: DEET can damage clothing made of man-made fibers. It can also damage plastics (such as eye glasses) and leather. DEET can be used on cotton clothing.
  3. Permethrin Products: Use on Clothing.
    • Products that contain permethrin (such as Duranon) work well to repel insects and ticks.
    • Unlike DEET, these products are put on clothing instead of skin.
    • Put it on shirt cuffs, pant cuffs, shoes and hats.
    • You can also use it on other outdoor items (mosquito screens, sleeping bags).
    • Do not put permethrin on the skin. Reason: Sweat changes it so it does not work.
  4. Picaridin Products:
    • Picaridin is a repellent that is equal to 10% DEET.
    • It can safely be put on skin or clothing.

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 10/28/2021

Last Revised: 10/21/2021

Copyright 2000-2021. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Bites & Stings – NJ Poison Control Center

Bees, wasps, spiders, ticks are just some of the common things that not only annoy people, but can lead to infections, irritation and even anaphylactic (allergic) reactions.

If you have a question about how to self treat a bite or sting, want information on an insect you’ve found or a bite you have on your body remember help is just a phone call away. 1-800-222-1222

Insect Bites & Stings

  • Be alert to insects that may bite or sting, particularly mosquitoes, ticks, bees, wasps, and hornets.
  • After a bite or a sting, the skin may show redness and swelling, and may be itchy and/or painful
  • Insect stings can cause serious problems and even death for those who are allergic to them. It is important to seek medical attention right away if you are stung and have any of these signs: hives, dizziness, breathing trouble, or swelling around the eyes and/or mouth.

Bees, Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets

    • For most, stings will cause some pain and discomfort, the area around the sting may experience redness or discoloration, swelling, and itching.
    • For those with allergies to these insects stings may cause rash, itching all over, wheezing, trouble breathing, and shock.  Allergic reactions to these insects could be life threatening, and emergency support should be sought IMMEDIATELY.
    • After a sting make sure the stinger is immediately removed.


    • Mosquitoes may carry potentially dangerous illnesses, the two most commonly found in New Jersey are; West Nile Virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
    • Although difficult to completely avoid mosquitoes, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of being bitten by these common pests
      • Empty or change outdoor standing water
      • Use screens in all windows and doors, make sure any holes in these screens are immediately fixed.
      • Use EPA registered insect repellent  containing DEET when attending outdoor gatherings or activities.


    • Ticks are commonly found all around New Jersey (not only in wooded areas or tall grass).
    • Ticks may carry potentially dangerous illnesses.  Tick borne illnesses most commonly found in New Jersey are; Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme Disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
    • Some early signs of tick-borne illnesses include; skin rash, tiredness, fever/chills, headache, still neck, muscle aches, joint pain, & dizziness.
    • Although ticks are very commonly found around New Jersey (and the United States),  there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick;
      • Ticks are most commonly found in or near wooded or grassy areas.  Always walk on paths or the perimeter of these areas and if you know you’ll be in these areas cover up; wear long sleeves and long pants, tuck pants into boots or socks.
      • Keep your yard clean; mow grass, clear brush and remove leaves.
      • Use EPA registered insect repellent  containing DEET.
      • After being in areas that are likely to contain ticks shower immediately to wash off unattached ticks and inspect your body to check for ticks.                                  **When inspecting for ticks be sure to check; under the arms, in/around the ears, inside belly button, back of the knees, in/around hair, between the legs, around the waits, and on the scalp.

Insect bites and stings: pictures, symptoms and treatment

Insect bites and stings are the scourge of the summer. No matter whether you’re in Scotland or St. Tropez, once the weather heats up, it pays to be prepared – or you risk getting bitten or stung. Not only are insect bites and stings uncomfortable, unsightly and itch like mad, but if you’re allergic or the area gets infected, they can have some potentially severe side effects.

We spoke to pharmacist Navid Sole from Peter’s Pharmacy and Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy about how to identify, treat, and ultimately prevent bites and stings from occurring – plus, the symptoms of a bad reaction, and when to consider seeing a doctor:

What causes a reaction to insect bites or stings?

The most common insect bites in the UK are mosquitoes, midges, fleas, bedbugs, horseflies and ticks. Wasp and bee stings are acutely painful so you will usually know when you’re being stung. It can be difficult to identify what you were bitten or stung by if you didn’t see it happen.

For most people, an insect bite or sting usually causes a small red lump on the skin, which is often painful and can be extremely itchy. The question is: why?

‘When the insect clamps its jaws on the skin, it injects a small amount of saliva,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Your body may not have met this foreign substance before, and your immune system is called to action. As a result, within 24-hours of being bitten, the area becomes red, hot, and swollen.’

When the insect clamps its jaws on the skin, it injects a small amount of saliva.

While unpleasant, most bites or stings from insects found in the UK are harmless, says Sole. ‘While they may cause slight discomfort, they are usually not serious and will get better within a few hours. However, if you are allergic or the area gets infected it can have some severe side effects.’

Insect bites and stings symptoms

The longer the insect bites you, the greater your chance of an immune response. Most insect bites and stings are not serious and can be safely treated at home, but occasionally they can become infected, cause a severe allergic reaction, and even spread serious illnesses, including Lyme disease and malaria.

Your symptoms from a bite or sting reaction depend on how severely the bite or sting has affected you, says Dr Lee. Reactions span from minor – an itchy, red bump – to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening emergency:

• Minor reaction

Most people have experienced a bite like this before. ‘You may have just a few small red bumps which feel a bit itchy,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Sometimes bites can cause larger areas of redness and swelling. You can often see the bite mark in the centre.’

• Local allergic reaction

Bites sometimes cause a local allergic skin reaction called urticaria, also known as hives. ‘The allergic reaction results in histamine release into your skin,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Histamine is an important cell-signalling molecule involved in the immune response. Once histamine is present, it causes inflammation, and you can see a red, itchy skin rash with visible wheals (welts) at the site of the bite. This can be very irritating, but is not usually serious.’

• Large local reaction

Sometimes, the redness and swelling can measure more than 30cm in diameter, says Dr Lee. ‘If you have several bites, this can even result in swelling of your whole limb,’ she says. ‘In this case your symptoms will be more severe, with marked discomfort, and intense itching.’

• Systemic allergic reaction

If the allergy is more severe it can involve other systems of the body, hence it’s called a ‘systemic’ reaction. If there are toxins involved – for example, in a sting – it can cause a variety of symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmias, kidney problems, neurological symptoms, and abdominal pain, says Dr Lee.

‘A severe allergic reaction results in a large amount of tissue swelling, known as angio-oedema,’ she continues. ‘This occurs because fluid leaks out of small blood vessels and collects in the tissues. This swelling may just be localised to the affected area of the bite.’

• Anaphylaxis

This is an extremely serious systemic reaction. It occurs in up to three per cent of the population, and can be fatal, says Dr Lee. If the swelling associated with a systemic allergic reaction occurs in your mouth, throat, and airway, it can obstruct your breathing. ‘This is called anaphylaxis – or anaphylactic shock – and is a life-threatening medical emergency,’ she says. It usually develops rapidly, within minutes of the sting occurring.

Pictures of different insect bites and stings

Not all insect bites and stings look alike; they have different sizes, shapes and patterns.

Warning – graphic images ahead.

Bee, wasp and hornet stings

When you’re stung by a bee, wasp or hornet, it causes a sharp and sudden pain or burning sensation at the site. Shortly afterwards, a swollen, red mark will arise, and this can last several hours and may be painful and itchy. This is likely to develop into a raised welt with a tiny white mark in the centre, where the stinger punctured your skin. The pain and swelling typically subsides within several hours.

When a bee stings you, the stinger may be left in the wound and will need to be removed as soon as possible due to the venomous toxins in it. Use something with a hard edge, such as a bank card, to scrape it out sideways. Don’t pinch the sting with your fingers (or tweezers) because you may spread the venom.


Horsefly bite

A horsefly bite can be incredibly painful, causing a sharp, burning sensation. The bite is more of an incision than a puncture, due to its scissor-shaped mandible – jaw, essentially – which cuts right into the skin. The mandible has hooks that allow the horsefly to latch on and feed on blood.

Horsefly bites can develop into large, red, itchy, swollen bumps within minutes. Itchiness, inflammation and swelling around the bite area is common, and you may even develop a bruise. Horsefly bites can take a while to heal and can become infected.


Mosquito bite

When a mosquito bites you, it injects saliva into your skin which acts as an anaesthetic and prevents your blood from clotting. For this reason, you might not realise a bite has occurred until later. It causes a round, swollen, itchy bump, sometimes with a small dot at the very centre. After a while, the bump becomes red and hard, sometimes swelling further. It’s not uncommon to get multiple bites around the same time.

Joel CarilletGetty Images

Tick bite

While most tick bites are painless, they can be deadly. Unlike other insects, ticks can remain attached to your body for up to two weeks. They choose a place to feed – usually warm, moist or hairy areas – and bury their head into your skin. Since they are small in size, you may not notice a tick until they become engorged with blood and expand.

The most important thing to do when you find a tick on you is to remove it. You may be left with a small red bump, redness, swelling and itchiness around the bite area, with occasional blistering or bruising. Read our guide to safely removing tick bites.

Wikimedia Commons

Midge or gnat bite

Midge and gnats use scissor-like mouth structures to slice the skin open. Their painful bites often look remarkably similar to mosquito bites. Typically, they cause bumps that are small, red, painful, very itchy and potentially very swollen, too. In some people, the bumps turn into blisters filled with fluid.

Wikimedia Commons

Bedbug bite

Bedbug bites typically occur on areas exposed during sleeping, and usually in clusters or straight lines across the skin. They aren’t painful, since bed bug saliva contains an anesthetic, like that of mosquitos. Some people don’t develop noticeable symptoms from bedbug bites but when symptoms do develop, the bites tend to be red, swollen and itchy, with a dark spot at the centre. Occasionally the bumps turn into blisters filled with fluid.


Mite bites

The term ‘mite’ refers to a number of different organisms that belong to the arthropod family. They’re small in size and lack wings and eyes. Bites are often hard to identify. You might not feel the bite until after it happens or notice the mite when it bites, and the symptoms vary depending which type of mite bit you. Generally speaking, you can expect to see red, rash-like marks and itchy red lumps near the site of the bite. You may also have swollen or blistered skin. Some mites burrow into the skin and cause scabies.


Flea bite

Fleas are small, thin, flat bugs with no wings. Their bites look like small, red bumps that are often grouped in clusters of three or four or a straight line, and are very itchy. The skin around the bite may be sore or painful, and potentially could develop a rash. Fleas from cats or dogs commonly bite below the knee around the ankles, or on forearms if you have been holding or carrying your pet. Occasionally, blisters can develop too.

Wikimedia Commons

Spider bite

In the UK, spider bites are fairly uncommon, since few spiders have fangs long enough to puncture the skin. However, there are a handful of species – such as the false widow spider – that can cause inflammation and a necrotic wound if they bite. Spider bites leave small puncture marks on the skin, and can cause redness, pain and swelling like any other insect bite.

Wikimedia Commons

Ant stings and bites

The most common ant in the UK, the black garden variety, does not sting or bite. However, red ants, wood ants, and flying ants do sting occasionally, though they’re usually harmless. In some cases, the area may become itchy, swollen or painful. However, as with any bite or sting, there is the danger of infection setting in if you scratch it too much.

Jenny Dettrick

Flower bug bites

Flower bugs are predatory insects that feed mainly on aphids and mites, but they’re known to bite humans. Their bites can be painful and very itchy. They often take a while to heal.




Chiggers are the juvenile form of a species of mite that belongs to the Trombiculidae family. They are more common in America than the UK but can feed on skin cells. After being bitten, most people develop reddish welts within 24 hours of being bitten as the skin starts to harden around the bite area, followed by intense itching. The skin can resemble blisters, hives, pimples or welts, and and tend to appear in groups, typically increasing in size over the week following the bite. The itching may last for a week or longer if not treated.

Signs of a bad reaction to insect bites and stings

If any of the following symptoms occur, call 999 or seek professional help.

Symptoms to a bad reaction to a bite or sting include:

  • Dizziness
  • Severe swelling
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Vomiting
  • A fast heart rate
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Losing consciousness

    Furthermore, some bites and stings don’t present symptoms immediately, says Sole, so if any of the following symptoms show after a couple of hours – or if symptoms don’t improve or get worse – then call your doctor.

    Seek help if:

    • A large area (around 10cm or more) becomes red or swollen.
    • You start showing signs of a wound infection such as pus, severe pain, swelling or redness.
    • You have symptoms of a widespread infection such as a fever, swollen glands and other flu-like symptoms.

      ‘If you have been bitten or stung and have any symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, phone 999 immediately,’ says Dr Lee. ‘In most cases, insect bites and stings cause mild symptoms only and resolve by themselves in a day or two.’ If it’s not an emergency, but you are concerned about a bite, contact NHS 911 for advice or call into your local pharmacy.

      How to treat insect bites and stings

      Being bitten or stung is never pleasant, but you can make the recovery process more comfortable. Follow these tips for treating insect bites:

      1. Remove the sting

      Take a good look at the bite or sting wound. ‘If this is a bee, a wasp, or a hornet sting, is the sting still present? If so, remove it carefully, using your fingernails, taking care not to get stung again,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Remove it whole without damaging the sting and unwittingly injecting more venom.’ If it’s a tick, wear gloves and use tweezers. ‘Grasp the tick near the skin and pull vertically upwards without twisting, so as not to leave the mouth parts in the skin,’ she says.

      2. Wash the affected area

      Next, wash the area with soap and water and pat it dry carefully. ‘Apply a cold compress – such as an ice pack – to any swelling for at least 10 minutes, says Sole. ‘Raise or elevate the affected area to reduce swelling.’

      3. Don’t scratch

      It’s going to take a lot of willpower, but scratching that itch won’t give you any relief in the long term. In fact, it’ll make it worse and leave you open to infection. Try not to touch the area unnecessarily, and consider a trip to the pharmacy if it becomes uncomfortable. ‘For itching, your pharmacist will be able to provide treatments including crotamiton cream, hydrocortisone cream and antihistamine tablets,’ says Sole. ‘For swelling, continue applying a cold compress, or go to your pharmacy to get some antihistamine tablets.’

      4. Take a painkiller

      If the bite is painful, take paracetamol or ibuprofen, so long as there are no medical reasons you cannot take these medicines. ‘Lidocaine spray, a local anaesthetic spray for the skin, may be helpful,’ says Dr Lee. ‘If the area is very swollen, or the rash is extensive, sometimes a doctor may prescribe a short course of prednisolone (steroid) for you,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Steroids are very powerful anti-inflammatories, and safe to use in short courses.’

      5. Look out for signs of infection

      Occasionally your insect bite will have started to heal, but a few days later it may be worse again. ‘Secondary bacterial infection can occur after a bite,’ says Dr Lee. ‘If you develop a temperature, start to feel generally unwell, and your local glands start to swell up, this may mean you need antibiotics. You may see pus in the wound. If so, see your doctor without delay. If there are blisters, do not prick them, as this encourages infection.’

      6. When to be concerned

      If you have swelling or itching anywhere else on your body after being bitten or stung, or if you’re wheezing or have difficulty swallowing, you’ll need emergency medical treatment. Dial 999 for an ambulance.

      How to prevent insect bites and stings

      While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid the wrath of insects entirely, there are ways to prevent and reduce your risk of being stung or bitten:

      ✔️ Cover up

      To minimise the opportunity for bites and stings, keep your arms and legs covered, with long-sleeved clothing and full length trousers. ‘Don’t walk around barefoot – keep your shoes on,’ says Dr Lee. You should also cover any food and drinks, remembering insects can climb inside cans. ‘Avoid rubbish bins and refuse areas and keep the lids on your bins,’ she continues. If you’re at home, keep windows and doors closed. ‘You can use a net covering at windows or a bead covering at doorways to stop insects getting into the house,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Keep your car windows closed.’

        ✔️ Invest in insect repellents

        Use an insect repellent containing 50 per cent diethyltoluamide (DEET) in the summer months. ‘Apply your sunscreen first, then apply the insect repellent,’ says Dr Lee. ‘Spray the insect repellent on your hands and apply with your hands to your face. Don’t apply insect repellent under your clothes – just on exposed areas. Use just enough to cover the required area.’ Take care not to apply it to broken or inflamed skin, and wash your hands after applying.

        ✔️ Protect yourself at dusk

        Insect bites are not inevitable if you take necessary precautions. The majority of biting insects come out at dusk, so this is when you need to be most vigilant. If you’re particularly prone or travelling somewhere warm, make sure your arms and legs are covered up during the evening and use mosquito nets when you sleep. The exception to the rule is the Aedes mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus and can strike at any time during the day, so take care if you are travelling abroad.

        Last updated: 18-07-2021

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        Invisible Bugs That Crawl and Bite You Can’t See

        Invisible and Imaginary Bug and Insect Bites


        Bugs and insects you can’t see biting you may be real or imaginary.

        Most insects with the exception of certain species of mites and also scabies are visible to the naked eye. If you have welts or red bumps that you think are caused by bug bites, be certain before you start applying pesticides and insecticides and trying to kill something that is not there.

        Bugs, bedbugs, mites, spiders, and other insects frequently annoy people and cause them to itch, scratch and worry. Sometimes this is a real occurrence. Sometimes it is purely imaginary and if not resolved, may lead to nervous disorders, imagined itches, excessive scratching, bleeding and even extreme fear of pests that do not exist.

        If you are one of the growing numbers of people that are being “bitten” by something, but you can’t see it, then don’t feel all alone.

        Sometimes, the “bugs” may be real. Sometimes they lay totally within the mind of the affected individual. If you are faced with the possibility of an imaginary infestation, a very careful and thorough examination of the premises should be conducted before applying any pesticides.

        It is important to know that itches can be caused by many things. Of course the number #1 suspect is always the bite or invasion of certain pests known to bite humans, such as bedbugs, fleas, lice, certain mites (but not house dust mites), ticks, some species of thrips or psylids and so forth.
        If there are no signs of any bites, or bite marks, and you cannot see any visible bugs, then the chances are that the problem is not insect related, and is an “itch”.

        If however, small red dots do exist, then diagnosis of those dots needs to be performed. In cases where a single red bump is visible, there is a good chance that it is a spider or insect related bite. If there are multiple red dots or bumps, then a diagnosis needs to be made by a qualifed physician. Petechia is a very common disorder or condition where a small red or purple spots have caused bleeding into the skin. If Petechia is a consideration, then you absolutely need to consult with your Doctor.

        Other Itch Causes Include:

        • Seasonal allergies.
        • Sky dryness, especially in the winter.
        • Soaps and shampoos used in bathing.
        • Static electricity.
        • New clothing, allergic reactions to dye’s, chemicals.
        • Airborne irritants.
        • Dermatologic conditions.
        • Reaction to medications.
        • Systemic diseases such as diabetes, chicken pox, and many others.
        • Excessive scratching that can lead to itches and skin related disorders.

        Bug and insect bites usually have a red swollen center and contain “pus” which can be either whitish-yellow or yellow-brown due to a pyogenic bacterial infection.

        Common irritants encountered in the workplace or other environments include tiny airborne particles of paper, metals, ceramics, fiberglass fibers, or other insulation materials. Exposure to chemicals, changes in temperature or humidity (seasonal changes, like the dryness that occurs when the winter heating season begins), or simply reaction to scratching due to some other condition may be involved.

        Recommendations To Deal With Bugs Biting You

        Before applying pesticides for bugs and insects, you need to be absolutely certain that an infestation exists. If there are no bites or bite marks visible, then there is a 99% chance that the itch is not insect related.

        If an insect bite is visible and there is real evidence (bite marks, bumps, redness, etc) then the insect needs to be identified before ANY pesticide is applied. Simply applying pesticides indoors to try and kill something you can’t see and have no evidence of is like shooting a gun into the air hoping to hit something (Ron Dawson A.C.E.). The danger is that over application of pesticides indoors is likely. Applications of various pesticides without any real target pest can cause frustration, depression, and cost a ton of money.

        If a true problem with a biting bug is identified – for example, with bedbugs or mites, then the situation should be treated and managed appropriately.  However, if you cannot find any solid evidence that pests exist, then the application of pesticides INDOORS IS NOT RECOMMENDED, and a trip to your family doctor and / or dermatologist is in order.

        Most pest control companies will not deal with a customer that has itches and is scratching from an insect that cannot be found or cannot be identified. Treatment for insects and application of pesticides without a true target pest is illegal in many states. That is why if you are suffering from itching and are scratching then you need to take control of the situation, and think logically about what is happening.

        If however you have bug bites and your doctor cannot diagnose any physical condition that would cause you to think that you are being bitten by insects then there are some things that you can do to help.

        1. Place all clothing items in sealed plastic bags such as the AmCan Water Soluble Laundry Bag.
        2. Wash all clothing items in hot soapy water to kill insects.
        3. Vacuum and clean all floor surfaces.
        4. Wash all bedding and linens in hot soapy water.
        5. Have carpets and rugs professionally steam cleaned.
        6. Change soaps and shampoos when you bath or shower.
        7. Use Catchmaster 288i Professional Bug Traps placed around the home or room to capture insects for indentification.
        8. Use CB 80 Aerosol to fog the room or home. Take precautions and read the product label before using foggers indoors.
        9. Use Sterifab to treat sofa’s, mattresses, linens and other sensitive areas
        10. Treat outdoors only using a general purpose insecticide such as Demon WP or Talstar as a preventive only.
        11. Use moisturizers and skin lotions when you start itching.


        NEVER SPRAY FLEA CONTROL OR INSECTICIDE PRODUCTS ON YOUR SKIN! Doing so could cause acute poisoning and could land you in the hospital, or even worse, cause death! Remember, pesticides are designed to kill. Don’t use them on your body without a medical prescription or advice from your doctor.

        Advice For Pest Control Professionals About Delusional Bug Bites

        If you can’t find any target pest – don’t treat. It’s against the law. Some customers have an emotional or sensory issue such as an overwhelming fear of bugs that is the real problem. Other problems could be a change of medication, diet, skin disorders, allergies – the list goes on. The bottom line is that if an application of pesticides indoors is made without any visible AND CONCLUSIVE proof, you are opening yourself up for liability. Many court cases have been lost when the the pest company was only trying to help and gave in to the customers wishes.

        If no insect is involved, the delusion of their presence maybe the true problem. When confronted with this situation, do not put yourself into the position of making a medical or psychiatric diagnosis or recommendation. You are not a doctor (unless you hold a PHD). A general knowledge of the other causes of itches can be very helpful in reporting the absence of pests to the client. Another useful approach is to ask the client to collect the specimens on a piece of tape. Using a microscope, or even a cell phone, magnify the potential target pest to show what it is. Most of the time what the customer thinks is an insect is actually dirt, lint, dust, etc.

        If no pests capable of biting are found, then no pesticide application should be made. Explain that no evidence of bugs could be found and that certain medical conditions, chemical irritants or medications may cause itching.

        NEVER suggest that the customer is crazy and to see a psychiatrist. Suggest that they see a dermatologist who can investigate the possibility of some dermatologic problem. In many cases, the sensation of bug bites is real. The customer is not crazy, the sensation can be very real. it’s just that the real issue is not insects.

        In many cases, scratching and itching is the result of a skin disorder, or some dermatologic issue and is not insect related. In industrial situations where airborne particles or severe humidity changes might be involved, environmental changes may be needed to remedy the problem.  If a family residence situation is involved, it could be any number of factors. Allergies or allergic reactions to food, medications, clothing, etc. are the most common.

        Whatever the problem, never attempt a pesticide treatment if no insect pest is involved. Remember that it is illegal to use a pesticide where no pest is present. In addition, treatment for a pest that does not exist is not ethical.

        Honesty is the best policy. To retain the confidence of the client, be frank in making a recommendation. Show continued interest in the problem, and offer to talk with the physician or others who might become involved. Treat the client with dignity, consideration, and patience.

        Just remember this – if you are ever sued for any reason over a situation like this, you will go to deposition first. During the deposition, you will be asked for copies of your license, your certifications, and you anything that makes you an expert. A pest control applicators license does not make you an expert in a court of law. You will then be asked to provide a sample or pictures of the insect that you treated for with a complete diagnosis, identification (including species and subspecies). When you can’t provide any proof that you are a real expert nor can you provide proof of what you treated for, you are liable. Don’t make this mistake and end up the real victim.

        Click Here For More Information on Bedbugs

        Click Here For More Information On Head Lice And Body Lice

        90,000 Insect Bite: Local Reaction

        You have been bitten or stung by an insect. The poison or fluid from the insect’s body causes a reaction at the site of the bite. Redness, itching, and swelling are common. This reaction usually goes away after a few hours or days. After 1-3 days, the bite site may become infected, so watch for the signs of infection described below. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish a local reaction to an insect bite from an early infection, so antibiotics may be prescribed.

        Home Care

        1. If you experience itching, avoid anything that could heat your skin (hot showers or baths, direct sunlight), as heat will increase itching.

        2. Ice pack (plastic ice bag wrapped in a towel) relieves itching and redness locally. Itching can be relieved with Lanacaine cream or Solarcaine spray (or other products containing benzocaine).

        3. Oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine available in pharmacies and grocery stores.Unless another antihistamine is prescribed, Benadryl can be used to relieve itching on large areas of skin. Take the drug in smaller doses during the daytime, and in larger doses at bedtime, as it makes you drowsy. [NOTE. Benadryl is not recommended for people with glaucoma or for men who have difficulty urinating due to an enlarged prostate.] Claritin (loratadine) is an antihistamine that causes less drowsiness and is therefore suitable for daytime use.

        4. If the doctor has prescribed ANTIBIOTICS in tablets, be sure to take the full course.

        5. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can be taken to relieve pain if no other pain relievers have been prescribed. [ NOTE . If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or have a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, consult your doctor before taking these drugs.]

        Preventing Bite Reactions In the Future

        • Subsequent reactions can be more severe, so try to avoid situations where you might be bitten by an insect.

        • Remember that bees live in trees. Wasps and hornets usually nest in the ground, trees, or eaves.

        • If you are bitten by a bee, a sting will remain in your skin. After a wasp bite, the sting does not remain in the skin of the hornets. Leave the insect nest immediately.A bee sting releases a substance that attracts other bees. After moving to a safe place, remove the sting as soon as possible.

        • After any bite you can apply ice and take Benadryl or another antihistamine. If any of the troubling symptoms listed below appear, seek immediate help.

        • If the risk of a new bite is high, or if you experience dizziness, fainting, difficulty breathing or swallowing after a bite, consult your doctor about using the Insect Allergy Kit.


        with your doctor or facility within two days if symptoms do not improve.

        Get Immediate Medical Assistance

        for any of the following:

        • spread of itching, redness, or swelling;

        • appearance or worsening of swelling of the face, eyelids, lips, mouth, pharynx or tongue;

        • difficulty swallowing or breathing;

        • dizziness, weakness, or fainting;

        • signs of infection:

          • spreading redness;

          • worsening pain or swelling;

          • At a temperature of 100.4єF (38єC) or higher, or as recommended by a healthcare practitioner;

          • Leakage of colored fluid from the wound.

        Who to contact for stings and insect bites

        Moscow allergists – latest reviews

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        August 31, 2021

        First, there was a thirty minute delay in admission.Secondly, it seemed to me, when the doctor was trying to explain what my problem was, that she did not speak Russian very well. And all the time she looked at the computer, even though she asked questions. Then, the doctor wrote me a referral for tests and told me to come as the results would be. But, most likely, I will have to look for another specialist, since she said that she was going on vacation for a long time. It is not clear how to do this, because it will not exist.


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        03 November 2020

        Show 10 reviews of 5,057 90,000 Do mosquitoes like drunk blood?

        • Stephen Dowling
        • BBC Future

        Photo author, Getty Images

        Weekends on warm May days are often associated with going out into the countryside, with barbecue, drinking and … mosquitoes.How does alcohol in human blood affect the behavior of these nasty insects?

        Several years ago I took part as a photographer in a vintage car rally in Denmark. It was not so much about who will come to the finish line first, but about your ability to dress so that they pay attention to you.

        Everything ended at the camp on the Isle of Myehn – lunch, dancing and a lot of booze. After a few hours (and a few drinks), it seemed to me that it would be nice to take a nap on a lounger under the stars shining in the night sky.

        It was then that I made three important discoveries: a) ferocious mosquitoes in Denmark in the summer; b) these mosquitoes easily bite you even through the shirt or fabric of the chaise longue c) when we start drinking alcohol, for mosquitoes it is like a signal for dinner.

        My back was covered in bubbles – so to speak, in memory of a trip to Denmark. Not at all the souvenir I planned to bring home.

        According to the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, a 2002 study showed that the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes increases dramatically when you drink alcohol.

        That study (very small, with only 13 participants) showed that those who drank a bottle of beer were more likely to land on those who drank a bottle of beer.

        The reason why mosquitoes are more attracted to drinkers is not yet very clear.

        We know that mosquitoes are attracted to us by two chemicals we breathe out – carbon dioxide and octanol (an organic substance that belongs to the class of fatty alcohols).

        But this brings us to the next question: does the mosquito that bites a drunk person get drunk?

        Oddly enough, despite the fact that mosquitoes have been drinking our blood for thousands of years, almost no one has researched this issue.

        Entomologist Tanya Dapki of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, told BBC Future, “I suspect not, because a person’s blood alcohol level will be very low.”

        However, if we want to find strict scientific confirmation of her words, there will be, to put it mildly, not very much research.

        Photo author, Getty Images

        Photo caption,

        Ethanol released by us when we drink alcohol can attract mosquitoes, according to researchers

        Patsy Stone, a frequent drinker character from the comedy series Absolutely Fabulous , once remarked: “The last mosquito that bit me was forced to go to an alcoholic rehabilitation center.”

        In reality, however, insects are extremely resistant to the effects of alcohol.

        In a recent article in Popular Science, entomologist Kobe Shal of the University of North Carolina points out that a person who drank 10 drinks of alcohol could have a blood alcohol level of 0.2%.

        But if a mosquito drinks the blood of such a person, the results can be neglected – the insect, when bitten, drinks an extremely small amount of blood – the equivalent of drinking that alcohol, diluted to 1/25 of its strength.

        Evolution has helped mosquitoes. Any liquid other than blood goes into a separate digestive sac where it is decomposed by enzymes.

        So there is a high probability that alcohol will be neutralized even before it begins to affect the insect’s nervous system.

        “Many adult insects have a kind of goiter, where they store all the fluids they absorb,” says Erica McAlister, senior curator of the insect department at the Natural History Museum in London. enter the body. “

        McAlister, who wrote The Secret Life of Flies, has already come across the subject while studying the effects of alcohol on fruit flies.

        These tiny insects are very attracted to rotting fruits.

        Photo author, Getty Images

        Photo caption,

        Insects are extremely resistant to the effects of alcohol

        “I don’t know if mosquitoes get drunk, but we see that this happens with fruit flies,” says McAlister. …

        “They are definitely drunk, but their resistance to alcohol is very high.In small doses, it makes them hyperactive and playful. In addition, they become less choosy when choosing a mate. With a high dose, they simply turn off. “

        Mosquitoes are also partial to rotting fruits, which form alcohol as the sugars ferment.

        Only females drink human blood to provide the amount of protein necessary for laying eggs.

        Males and females also drink flower nectar (mosquitoes are the main pollinators) and use the sugar from the nectar to provide energy for survival.

        Sometimes this nectar is also decomposed by enzymes into a small amount of alcohol.

        Depki says it’s an interesting question for her – does drinking alcohol make us more attractive to mosquitoes?

        Some people are genetically predisposed to biting mosquitoes more often – it is believed that this is 20%.

        One of these genetic traits is blood type. For example, one study found that people with the first blood group were bitten by mosquitoes twice as often as those with the second group.

        Other risk factors for being bitten are high body temperature, pregnancy (possibly related to body temperature), frequent deep exhalation (carbon dioxide production) and larger body size.

        Mosquitoes also care where they bite you. Some prefer legs and arms, others, attracted by the release of carbon dioxide from your nose and mouth, prefer the neck and face.

        “I went to Costa Rica, and a mosquito bit me on the sole of my foot!” Dapki recalls indignantly.“What’s it like?”

        But perhaps the main chemical signal to mosquitoes that comes from us when we are drunk is ethanol released from sweat – such a conclusion can be drawn from a study in 2002.

        A similar experiment was carried out and in Burkina Faso in 2010. He confirmed that mosquitoes are considered attractive to drinkers.

        Ethanol, released in ultra-low quantities with the sweat of a drunken person, can serve as a signal to biting insects that food is served.

        Photo by Getty Images


        Genetic characteristics of some people make them more attractive to mosquitoes

        The report of that study said: “Exhaled carbon dioxide levels and body temperature do not make a person more attractive to mosquitoes. individual differences among the volunteers who took part in the study, beer consumption consistently increased the attractiveness to mosquitoes. ”

        “If you are hungry and wandering around the city,” says Dapki, “there is a high probability that you will head in the direction from which you smell of food – for example, hot dogs.You may not want to eat a hot dog, but the smell tells you that the food is here somewhere. ”

        The presence of alcohol in the human body may look like an invitation to dinner for mosquitoes, McAlister says, but the main factors that attract insects to you are probably in your genetic code.

        So avoiding ice cold beer most likely does not guarantee you will get rid of annoying mosquitoes.

        Drinking will probably even help you survive their bites more easily – in a lung state intoxicated, they will not itch so painfully.You can believe me – I remember how it was with me.

        To read the original of this article in English, visit BBC Future.

        The dog was bitten by an insect. What to do?

        Technically, these insects do not bite, but sting – they pierce the victim’s skin with a sting and secrete poison into the wound. In bees and wasps, the sting, venom glands, and venom reservoir are located at the back of the abdomen.

        Most often, bee and wasp stings are observed in the area of ​​the muzzle and head.But often the front paws, as well as the oral cavity, are affected, as dogs have a habit of catching flying insects with their mouths and exploring the world around them with the help of their sense of smell.


        When bitten by a stinging insect, the dog suddenly begins to feel anxious, rubbing its muzzle with its paws or vigorously licking the bitten area. Soon, swelling, redness, and severe painful sensations may appear at the site of the bite. Sometimes, after a bee or wasp sting, the affected dog may develop an allergic reaction and even anaphylactic shock.

        Bee sting

        The sting of a bee is serrated, so when piercing the skin of a warm-blooded animal, it gets stuck and breaks out of the bee’s body along with a reservoir for poison and poison glands. Therefore, the bee can only sting once.

        After a bee attack, it is very important to examine the pet as soon as possible and remove the remaining sting, since the release of venom continues for some time. When removing the sting, it is best to use a plastic card (for example, a bank card), it should be leaned against the skin and moved along with the sting towards the stinging apparatus, this will prevent the remaining poison from being squeezed out of the glands into the wound.That is why you should not pull out the sting with your fingers or tweezers.

        Bites of wasps, hornets and bumblebees

        These insects are capable of stinging multiple times, as their sting is smooth. Bumblebees are usually quite peaceful and attack only when protecting their nests. Wasps and hornets, on the contrary, are characterized by increased aggressiveness.

        First aid

        A single bee or wasp sting is usually not dangerous to the dog. Although, of course, this is very unpleasant and can be especially painful in case of a bite in the area of ​​the muzzle and nose.In such cases, ice should be applied for a short time to reduce swelling and pain. It is important to monitor the condition of the dog after a stinging insect bite in order to have time to see a doctor in time in case of an allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock. A large number of bites, especially in the head, neck, or mouth, can lead to severe swelling and blockage of the airways.

        Anaphylactic shock

        Anaphylactic shock is a life-threatening, critical condition that affects vital organ systems: respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and cutaneous.

        The symptoms of anaphylactic shock include many signs from different body systems. So, on the skin, it manifests itself as itching, swelling, the appearance of blisters, urticaria, rash, redness. In the case of a very serious allergic reaction, the skin symptoms may not have time to fully manifest.

        With anaphylactic shock, the symptoms also affect the respiratory system: the dog begins to cough, breathing becomes more frequent, becomes difficult and “wheezing”.On the part of the digestive system, there may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), and on the part of the cardiovascular system, a sharp drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness. If these symptoms appear, the dog should be urgently taken to the nearest clinic.

        If it is already known that the dog is allergic to stinging insect bites, then you should take precautions when walking in the woods and parks, or generally avoid places where the dog can meet with a nest of bees or wasps.You should closely monitor the dog and have a first aid kit with you. What kind of drugs should be included in the first-aid kit and how to use them, the attending dog’s veterinarian will tell you. In case of emergencies, it will be useful to have the contacts of the nearest round-the-clock clinics and the attending physician on the phone.

        90,000 First aid for a wasp sting

        21 August 2018

        In the event of a wasp sting, know how to provide competent assistance, especially if the victim has had cases of a severe reaction to contact with insects.Anaphylactic shock, which threatens not only health, but also life, is extremely dangerous.

        Often an allergic reaction occurs with the manifestation of characteristic symptoms.

        What if bitten by a wasp?

        Signs of a wasp bite appear instantly after an insect has stung. Help should be provided as soon as possible.

        Algorithm of actions:

        • Inspection of the bite site for the purpose of diagnostics – which insect stung. If it is a bee, then you can see a sting in the wound. The wasp does not leave him.
        • Try to suck some of the poison out of the wound.
        • Disinfect the bite site with modern high-quality antiseptic preparations. It can be medical ethyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
        • Give the victim to drink clean water to reduce the manifestation of intoxication.Water should be drunk further throughout the day. The fluid removes toxins from the body and improves overall health.
        • Place a cold compress over the bite site. You can use freezer ice or cocktail cubes, or make a lotion with baking soda solution.
        • Drink an antihistamine, for example, a tablet of fenistal, suprastin or diphenylhydramine (in consultation with your doctor).
        • In case of complaints of lack of air, a feeling of heat in the body, it is necessary to take off tight clothes, lay the victim and provide fresh air.
        • If medically indicated, an injection is given. For example, dexamethasone or epinephrine is used.

        A serious condition after a bite requires an ambulance call!

        The victim may begin to suffocate, especially if the insect stings in the face or head, or even faints. Before the arrival of doctors, it is necessary to take the first aid measures described above.

        We recommend that you stock up on special insect bite remedies in advance of the summer season.A wide range of quality drugs is presented in the Stolichki pharmacy network.

        90,000 … And the fox came to Aibolit: oh, I was bitten by a wasp!

        While I don’t even want to think about mosquitoes, wasps, midges and other insects: spring has finally come to Voronezh! But it won’t be long before bites, at least mosquito bites, will become a reality. Let’s get ready !

        Question one: do repellents help?

        The child was bitten by a wasp, what should I do?

        Yes, they do, but when choosing them, you need to pay attention to the age of the child: as a rule, there are no such funds for babies under one year old.For very little ones, you can use clove essential oil (in the absence of allergic reactions, of course): a few drops of oil can be dissolved in a baby lotion suitable for age, or baby cream, and applied to open areas of the body. It is better not to smear your fingers – children always pull everything into their mouths – but the hands and feet (when it gets very warm) can be protected in this way. A baby can be treated with a mosquito repellent in the form of an aerosol or spray intended for an older age, but only so that it definitely cannot get into the mouth along with the edge of the clothing, for example.

        Question two: what to do if the child was bitten?

        A mosquito bite can be insidious. Be more attentive.

        In this regard, it is better to consult a pediatrician in advance, but in any pharmacy you can purchase well-proven non-hormonal agents that relieve itching well and do not give side effects: fenistil gel can be used from the second month of life, and psilo balm – from two years … Usually, topical application of these funds is quite enough, but if there are a lot of bites, you can give (on the recommendation of a pediatrician or dermatologist) an antihistamine that suits him

        by age.

        There are bite remedies in many lines of repellents, usually a combination of menthol and a liquid or solid base and come in the form of a pencil, cream, foam, and so on. Please note – they are also divided by age.

        You can do much the same at home: a few drops of peppermint essential oil can be added to baby cream or lotion. Folk remedies will also help: juice of parsley, plantain, mint, a strong solution of baking soda, but iodine and brilliant green should not be used.

        Question Three: Do I need to see a doctor?

        A doctor should be consulted in the following cases:

        What to do if a child is bitten by a midge?

        • if the child is under one year old, with multiple bites that bother him greatly;
        • if the bitten area is severely swollen;
        • if the bites are combed, a bacterial infection has joined.

        Question four: when should you call an ambulance?

        Sometimes there are situations when an ambulance must be called immediately:

        • if the baby is under three months old – in case of a wasp, bee, hornet bite;
        • if the child has difficulty breathing, he whistles on inhalation or exhalation;
        • if the bite sites swell quickly;
        • if the child complains of chest pain;
        • if the face swells;
        • if the child is dizzy, vomiting or vomiting;
        • if the temperature rises and the child is shivering;
        • if bitten by a wasp or bee in the face, neck or lip.

        If the child has lost consciousness, an attack has begun, edema – an ambulance must be called urgently!

        When calling, be sure to say that the child was bitten by an insect!

        This is important!

        90,000 Who bit me?

        Health Health

        “What is this?” – we are surprised to see a large red spot or blister on the skin. Having missed the moment of the bite, we worry how dangerous it is.

        Text: Alexey Fedorov

        Most of all we are afraid of ticks that can carry dangerous infectious diseases: tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease. Some are afraid of malaria mosquitoes, but what if they are generally bugs or fleas, the invasion of which, no, no, and even happens in elite residential complexes. We have collected the most common consequences from bites, with the help of which you can retroactively calculate the offender and take the necessary measures in a timely manner.

        Mosquito bite

        The consequences of the bite of this insect are well known to many – a dense, swollen, slightly reddened tubercle, which itches strongly and constantly reminds of itself.This is nothing more than an allergic reaction to mosquito proteins that have entered our bloodstream. Usually, there are several bites at once, since mosquitoes rarely fly one by one, and one, taking advantage of your inattention, will surely suck several times. The bite goes away on its own after a while, but to relieve swelling, and most importantly, itching, you can anoint the bite sites with a soothing ointment.

        Bee or wasp sting

        The venom of these insects is not dangerous to humans, but extremely painful. At the site of the bite, pronounced redness, edema occur, and the local skin temperature rises.The only real danger is the development of an allergic reaction to the components of the poison, as a result of which a pronounced local edema, systemic Quincke’s edema, in which the passage of air through the respiratory tract is disrupted, and even a deadly anaphylactic shock can occur. After a bee sting, the sting may or may not remain in the skin, but the wasp always takes the sting with it. At the same time, a bee sting is able to secrete poison for a few more minutes, so it is important to remove it as quickly as possible with tweezers.The bite site must be treated with an antiseptic; it will be useful to take an antihistamine tablet.

        Tick bite

        Due to an abnormally warm winter and very early spring, ticks became active this year in mid-February – an absolute record for the middle lane. The place of the tick bite is at the same time its temporary habitat, because it is saturated with blood for several days. Once on the body, the tick makes its way to places with the thinnest skin – in the groin, armpits, neck, behind the ears or on the scalp.Typical signs of a bite: a red, round spot about 1 cm in diameter, oval in shape and with uneven outlines, a black dot in the center, swelling and burning at the site of the bite for 7 days. It is important to remove the tick in the first 48 hours (then the risk of contracting dangerous infections is much less), it is important to entrust this to professionals, and the culprit must be submitted for laboratory testing.

        Bug bite

        Invasion of bedbugs periodically happens in our time, but, as practice shows, travelers are most likely to encounter them – in a hotel or private apartment.Bedbug bites are multiple, but still there are not so many of them as after a flea attack, they are larger in size, have blurred boundaries, and allergy sufferers may experience severe redness, swelling and itching. At the same time, some may not notice the consequences at all, not paying any attention to small red dots.

        Ant bite

        Even in the middle lane there are completely different ants – from small “garden” to large “forest”. But the most inconspicuous baby bites quite painfully.By injecting acid under the skin, the abuser causes a strong burning sensation, reminiscent of a stinging nettle burn. The consequences are also similar – a dense white lump appears at the site of the bite, around which redness of the skin appears. To get rid of discomfort, you can anoint the bite with hydrocortisone ointment.

        Flea bite

        In vain, many people think that fleas are inhabitants of dens and shelters. Every dermatologist can tell many cases when quite respectable people living in good conditions were attacked by these small bloodsucking animals.Neighbors, children, pets – this is an incomplete list of those who can bring fleas into the house. Flea bites are small red bumps that appear in groups of 3-4 and are accompanied by severe itching. To get rid of unpleasant symptoms, you need to rinse the bite area with soapy water and spread it with zinc cream or other ointment that relieves itching.

        4 types of common reactions to insect bites

        • Lungs – urticaria, itching, malaise.
        • Moderate – shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness, vomiting join.
        • Severe – additional suffocation, impaired swallowing, wheezing, fear of death occur.
        • Shock – loss of consciousness, drop in blood pressure, dysfunction of organs.