Skin Rashes and Other Conditions

Identifying 8 Common Bug Bites

A. L. Tudor Jul 20th, 2012 (updated Oct 24th, 2016)
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A look at 8 common insects and the signs and symptoms of their bites.

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Ouch!
Ouch!

Summer is a time for enjoying the great outdoors, and with outdoor fun also come insects and their painful, itching bites. But unless you see a familiar bug actually take a bite, how can you decide the best treatment for that bump or welt?

In this creepy-crawly slideshow, we'll look at 8 common outdoor--and a few indoor!--insects and review the signs and symptoms of their bites.

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Fire Ant Bites
Fire Ant Bites

A fire ant can both bite and sting. The bites or stings will have a red center that is surrounded by lighter colored rings, and there can even be tendrils of redness coming off the main area of the bite. Its primary symptom, however, is pain. People who are bitten or stung by fire ants can also experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea, fatigue, and body aches.

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Bed Bug Bites
Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs leave large circles of bites in orderly rows. These "bite wheels" cause itching, skin redness, localized swelling, and even blisters on the bites. These wheels eventually turn to small red bumps and fade after a few days. The bites are not dangerous, though infections can result from scratching the bites.

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Flea Bites
Flea Bites

Flea bites often start as an itchy rash of tiny, sometimes bleeding, bumps in the armpits or the crease of a joint. The itching may be localized at first, but it can spread and become very severe, especially in people who are sensitive to flea bites. The area around these bites may swell, and touching them will cause them to turn white.

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Mosquito Bites
Mosquito Bites

As most people know, mosquito bites itch severely. Scratching them causes the bites to swell to red bumps or welts because this action irritates the bite sites. This can also lead to infection in the bites. Wearing insect repellant is important because mosquitos can carry diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, Dengue fever, and yellow fever.

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Chigger Bites
Chigger Bites

Chiggers aren't actually insects, but are rather the juvenile form of a type of mite. They can be found in forests and grasslands, along lakes and streams, or even in parks, lawns, and golf courses.

Chigger bites are painless, but they produce itchy, raised red lesions on the skin that are similar to the skin reaction that results from exposure to poison ivy or oak. Scratching the bites can cause them to spread and appear as a rash. 

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Tick Bites
Tick Bites

A tick will attach itself to the warm areas of the body and feed on blood, passing on any illnesses it carries in the process. Ticks carry a number of diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme disease.

Early removal of the tick can help prevent infection in this single bite. Watch for such symptoms as muscle aches, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and headache in the weeks following a tick bite, since these can be signs of tick-related diseases.

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Black Fly Bites
Black Fly Bites

Like ticks, black flies live off the blood of other animals, and they can deliver painful bites! They also carry diseases and are a general nuisance to humans. Many U.S. states now have programs to control black fly populations.

In addition to hurting immediately, black fly bites remain painful, and they also itch and can become infected with scratching. Some people have allergic reactions to these bites such as hives or wheezing.

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Spider Bites
Spider Bites

The Black Widow's bite causes shooting pain and appears as two dots made by their fangs. Nausea, increased blood pressure, and vomiting occur soon after and require immediate medical attention.

The Brown Recluse bite is painless, but cause are serious. The bites are often red, then white, and have blisters in the shape of a bullseye. These bites also require immediate medical attention.