How to Identify 10 Common Bug Bites

May 7th 2016

Bug bites are generally not a reason for concern, but there are still risks of illnesses and infections. Knowing how to identify bug bites is important, but prevention is key.

Tick Bites

Tick bites are typically easy to identify because the insect usually attaches itself to its host. The bites are often found on the head, along the hairline, but a tick may feed on any part of the body. Remove the entire insect, including the head, using a pair of tweezers, and seek medical care if you experience any symptoms of a tick-borne illness, including achy muscles, a headache and a circular rash around the bite spot.

Mosquito Bites

The small, itchy bumps that appear after a mosquito bite are all too common during the warm months of summer. More often than not, these bug bites are benign, but in some locations, mosquitoes may carry diseases such as West Nile virus and malaria. The mound-like bite is typically red or pink in color and usually centers around a small puncture wound.

Fire Ant Bites

The mark left by a fire ant may take up to eight days to heal completely. These ants bite and also have venomous stings that produce a painful burning sensation. A few hours after the initial bite, a white head usually forms on top of the firm, red bump left originally. The head has a puss-like appearance but is hard to the touch and is comprised of dead skin tissue.

Flea Bites

Clusters of small, red itchy bumps are most likely attributed to fleas, especially if the bites are on the feet, around the ankles or in areas where the skin creases. Flea bites may bleed, and localized swelling is common. The bites often have a rash-like appearance and the area usually turns white when you press on it.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are harmless, but their bites are often itchy and sore. These bugs live in mattresses, furniture and cracks within walls, and are most active at night, particularly in warm environments. Bed bugs typically attack while a victim is sleeping and feed on exposed areas of the body such as the neck, arms, feet or face. The circular red bumps usually appear in a row and may be accompanied by swelling or blisters.

Chigger Bites

The marks left by a chigger are similar in appearance to the itchy, welt-like bumps of a poison oak rash. These small mites often attach to a host for several days and leave itchy, sometimes painful bite marks behind. The skin surrounding the bites may become hardened and inflamed before the wounds heal.

Fly Bites

Several different species of flies are known to bite humans. A horse fly has one of the most painful bites. Victims of the black fly typically experience prolonged pain that may last for a day or longer. These bug bites are usually itchy red bumps. Small blisters may form around or on the bumps.

Carpenter Ant Bites

A carpenter ant leaves a small red bump after its painful, stinging bite. The large black ant injects venom into the skin when it bites to produce an intense burning sensation that occurs and reoccurs randomly until the venom loses its potency. The pain usually subsides within 24 hours, and the mark generally disappears soon after.

Spider Bites

Most spider bites are no reason for concern, but some people may experience allergic reactions. Bites from poisonous varieties such as the black widow and brown recluse require immediate medical attention. A typical spider bite looks similar to a bee sting. It is often painful, and the surrounding skin is red and swollen. A brown recluse spider bite typically forms a painful blister, while two fang marks are the distinguishing feature of a black widow bite.

Itch Mite Bites

Microscopic itch mites are the bugs behind the skin disorder known as scabies. Bites usually occur between the fingers and on elbows, wrists, buttocks and genitals, causing an itchy, pimple-like rash. Scabies are highly contagious and typically require prescription medications for effective treatment.


Bug bites are quite common, especially when you spend time outdoors. Some bites are uncomfortable and itchy, while others pose serious health threats. Protect yourself and your family by learning to identify some of the most common types of bug bites.

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