7 Common Insect Bites

May 7th 2016

From the painful itching caused by fire ant bites to the rare-but-risky side effects of tick bites, insect bites can cause a range of symptoms depending on the bug. Learning to identify common insect bites can increase your safety and your comfort.

Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites are extremely common, especially in areas with hot, humid weather. These small, red bumps resemble puffy, round hives and are incredibly itchy. In certain locations, mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile and malaria, but most of the time, mosquito bites are more troublesome than harmful. A soothing lotion to minimize scratching is the best treatment.

Bee Stings

Bee stings can be quite painful, and some species cause more complications than others. Some bees, such as honeybees, leave behind a stinger that must be removed, while others, including yellow jackets and hornets, do not leave a stinger and can sting a victim repeatedly. The sting site is usually red and swollen with a small white bump in the center. Bee stings are typically harmless for individuals who are not allergic. Keep the wound clean, and any tenderness or swelling should subside within a few days

Ant Bites

Red fire ants and black carpenter ants are larger species of ants that commonly bite humans. Fire ant bites begin as small, hardened lumps that turn into hard, white blisters. The bites are painful and itchy, and may take up to eight days to disappear. Carpenter ant bites are small, red bumps without the white head that accompany stings from fire ants. These bites often produce a burning sensation that generally subsides in a few hours.


Tick bites can occur any time of year, but are especially common during spring and summer. Ticks are very small and often go unnoticed, but usually attach to the host and can cause serious complications if not properly removed. A thick coating of petroleum jelly may suffocate the insect and cause it to release the skin. Otherwise, the tick should be removed by grasping close to the skin with tweezers.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites only affect people who are allergic to the saliva of this insect. The small, welt-like bumps usually do not appear until one or two days after the bite and may not disappear until several days later. An antihistamine or soothing lotion may ease the itchiness of the bite marks. Bed bugs can bite any part of the body, but most often feed on uncovered parts, such as the neck or arms, while the victim is sleeping.

Flea Bites

Flea bites are likely to occur in outdoor areas with tall grasses and in homes that have untreated pets. The small, itchy bumps usually appear in groups of three or four. Keep the area clean, and avoid scratching. The bites typically resolve without treatment.

Chiggers and Mites

Chiggers and other common types of mites feed on the skin of animals and humans. Bite marks typically appear as firm, red bumps that may resemble a skin rash. The bumps are extremely itchy, but are not harmful as long as scratching is kept to a minimum.


Insect bites can occur indoors or outdoors. They may be painful, or they may be itchy. Some insects can transmit diseases, while complications may arise from other types of bites. Use the appearance and symptoms of a bug bite to identify the insect that caused it and to apply the appropriate treatment.

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