How to Identify Common Insect Bites and Stings

May 7th 2016

Insect stings and bites cause a variety of symptoms that can vary significantly depending on the insect species and the individual's reaction. While over-the-counter insect repellents and taking measures such as wearing long pants when walking through tick-prone areas can help prevent bites, it is important to educate yourself on specific signs and symptoms that may require medical treatment to ensure a healthy recovery.

Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites are one of the most common types of insect bites. In most cases, mosquito bites do not require medical treatment and can be relieved with over-the-counter anti-itch medications such as calamine lotion. However, over-scratching can lead to skin infections that may require antibiotic treatment. Mosquito bites typically cause a mild stinging or pinching sensation that progresses into a circular raised welt with a small puncture wound in the center.

Tick Bites

Ticks are commonly found in grassy areas and easily attach themselves to exposed skin. Ticks tend to burrow into warmer areas of skin such as the armpits or groin, but they can also be found anywhere on the body. Tick bites cause reddened, inflamed skin, and a visible tick can most often be found burrowing into the skin.

It is important to remove the tick as soon as possible, as the insects can spread illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If possible, it is always a good idea to seek medical treatment to safely remove ticks from the skin. While Lyme disease is a possibility, ticks most commonly spread the disease after being attached to the skin for approximately 36 hours. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a round skin rash that resembles a bull's-eye.

Wasp and Bee Stings

Wasp and bee stings are almost always felt immediately. The stings can cause severe allergic reactions in certain individuals, so it is always important to seek immediate medical attention in the event of a first-time sting. Symptoms of wasp and bee stings include severe pain immediately following the sting, swelling of the skin and inflammation. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include wheezing, shortness of breath, and hives or welts that spread all over the body.

Bedbug Bites

Bedbugs tend to be more prevalent during warmer weather and commonly enter homes via luggage, furniture and moving boxes. Once inside, the bugs hide in wall cracks, bedding and furniture. The bugs tend to feed at night, so the bites are usually not felt until a rash appears. Bedbug bite rashes appear as itching, inflamed bumps that form a line on the skin.


Insect bites and stings are common throughout the year, especially during the summer months. While many bug bites cause only minor discomfort and heal on their own, certain bites can cause severe allergic or physical reactions that require immediate medical attention. Learning to identify common insect bites and stings is essential in determining the type of treatment required.

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