Mosquito bites are most common around stagnant bodies of water. Female mosquitoes require blood to nourish their eggs. Mosquitoes puncture the skin in order to suck human blood. Itching, swelling, and redness are common symptoms of mosquito bites. Diseases such as West Nile Virus may be transmitted during a mosquito bite.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs require blood meals, and humans are their preferred host. Bed bugs are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide exhaled by a person sleeping lures bed bugs from their hiding places; signaling meal-time. Bed bugs inject saliva during feeding, causing red lesions and welts to appear within a few days. It has not been proven that bed bugs directly transmit disease.
Fleas prefer pets as their hosts. However, fleas will switch to human blood if their pet host is removed for a period of time. Fleas suck blood and can transmit diseases such as typhus and the plague. Flea bites typically don’t swell. Instead, they cause the skin to itch and rashes to appear. To identify flea bites see What do flea bites look like?
Most ant bites feel like a small pinch and are not dangerous. Fire ants, and a few other species, can cause more damage by injecting venom when they sting. Ants bite using pincer-like jaws. Most species of ants only bite when their nest is attacked. Ants do not transmit disease.
Bees don’t usually sting unless they are provoked. Honeybee stingers are barbed, causing the stinger to detach when used. Because of this, honeybees only sting once. Remove the stinger as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of venom injected into the skin. The venom injected during a sting causes pain, swelling, and sometimes an allergic reaction.
Dust Mite Bites
Dust mites do not actually bite. Bed bugs are the common culprit behind supposed dust mite bites. Dust mites are scavengers that feed on flakes of dead skin. They are much smaller than bed bugs and cannot bite. They can, however, add to dust allergy problems.
Spiders do not seek people out for blood meals. Most spiders bite when they are trapped against skin due to clothing or bedding. The majority of spider bites in the US come from the Yellow Sac Spider. Symptoms include initial pain, swelling, and redness. Double fang marks are often seen. Two poisonous spiders in the US are the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow.
Ticks suck human blood and may remain lodged in the skin for days. Remove ticks immediately by grasping their jaws with tweezers and pulling them out, avoiding any twisting motions. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Seek medical help immediately if a rash develops in the area of a tick bite, or if the head of the tick remains lodged in the skin.
Wasps most often sting when their nest is provoked. Yellowjackets are also very aggressive around picnics. Wasps can sting multiple times. A wasp stinger injects venom into the victim. Wasp venom causes pain, swelling, itching, and may even trigger an allergic reaction. Wasp stings appear red, swollen, and have a single puncture wound.
Scorpions hide in shoes, boots, clothing items, or towels. Their stinger is mounted on their tail. Most scorpion stings are similar to wasp stings. They cause pain, swelling, numbness, redness, and itching. Bark scorpions stings can be dangerous. Symptoms of a bark scorpion sting include foaming at the mouth, difficulty breathing, respiratory paralysis, and convulsions. If these symptoms appear, seek medical attention immediately.
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