19 Pictures of Common Bug Bites and How to Identify Their Symptoms

Most bug bites are transmitted directly from the insect and occur outdoors. Two exceptions are bedbugs (tiny mites that live in and near beds) and lice, which spread through contact with an infected person, a comb, or clothing.

Cases of EEE are rare but deadly. For people infected with EEE, 30 percent do not survive, and many who do develop neurological problems. While there was only one case reported in the United States in 2022, there were 38 cases in 2019, including 15 individuals who died from the condition, according to the CDC. Most of the cases have been reported in the Northeast.

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Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like Small Pimples?

A bite from a poisonous spider, like the black widow or brown recluse, is extremely dangerous and can cause a severe reaction. The black widow’s bite, which shows up as two puncture marks, may or may not be painful at first. But 30 to 40 minutes later, you may have pain and swelling in the area. Within eight hours, you may experience muscle pain and rigidity, stomach and back pain, nausea and vomiting, and breathing difficulties. You might not have seen the spider that bit you, but always seek medical attention immediately if there’s a possibility you could have been bitten by a poisonous spider. Call 911 or America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222.

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You may notice that bug bites pick up in the summer, when you’re outside more often and exposing more skin, but they can occur any time of year—especially if you happen to be preyed upon inside of your home. (Spiders, bed bugs, and fleas don’t hibernate in the winter, sadly.) There are ways to deter the critters from coming your way, especially if you use insect repellent or bug spray, but there’s no perfect solution to ward off the pests.

The brown recluse spider is poisonous and usually lives in dark and unused spaces. Some people feel a small sting followed immediately by a sharp pain, while others don’t realize they’ve gotten a brown recluse bite until hours later. Four to eight hours afterward, the bite may become more painful and look like a bruise or blister with a blue-purple area around it. Later, the bite becomes crusty and turns dark. It’s also worth noting that this type of spider is found in several Midwestern states, western parts of some Southern states (including Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia), and the central Southern states (including Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri) — and they’re rarely found outside of these areas, according to the University of Kentucky.

Chigger Bites

Although horse flies and deer flies most affect the animals in those names, unfortunately being a human doesn’t earn you a free pass. According to the University of Kentucky, these flies can target humans who are outside, and the intensity of their attack varies from year to year. Bites can be painful and cause bleeding, swelling, irritation, or an allergic reaction. Swelling and irritation should disappear in a day or two.

Mites do not usually spread disease, but their bites can irritate the skin and cause intense itching. Itch mites usually feed on insects but will bite other animals, including people. The bites usually go unnoticed until itchy, red marks develop that may look like a skin rash.

Lice bites are tiny red spots on the shoulders, neck, and scalp from small parasitic insects that can live on your clothes or in your bedding. Because lice bites are so small, they usually don’t hurt, but they do itch. Some people may develop a larger, uncomfortable skin rash from lice bites. Continual scratching of the itchy spots could lead to an infection, marked by symptoms including swollen lymph nodes and tender, red skin. An infected lice bite may also ooze and crust over; it will need to be treated by a doctor, but lice are not known to carry other diseases.

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Chiggers (also called harvest mites or red bugs) are tiny red, biting mites. Their bites aren’t painful, but do cause intense itching.

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How Do Chigger Bites Happen?

Hornet stings (like bee and wasp stings) are usually painful, itchy, red, and swollen immediately after they happen, without causing long-term effects. Many people can simply ice the area to soothe pain and pop an over-the-counter antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to help with itching. “After a half hour, you can go on with your business,” says Howard Russell, an insect and arthropod diagnostician at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Symptoms typically disappear after a day or two, says the Mayo Clinic.

If you have known allergies to bug bites, talk with your physician about emergency care. Some people with severe allergies to bug bites need to have allergy medicine, including epinephrine (such as an EpiPen), with them always.

19 Pictures of Common Bug Bites and How to Identify Their Symptoms

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Chiggers are members of the arachnid family (the same family that includes spiders and ticks). They are smaller than a period at the end of a sentence. Most can only be seen with a magnifying glass.

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What Are the Signs of Chigger Bites?

However, if you’re allergic to bee, wasp, or hornet stings — or you’ve been stung multiple times — a sting can cause severe allergic reactions, including nausea, rapid heartbeat, swelling, dizziness, hives, and shortness of breath, warns the Mayo Clinic. Call 911, and seek emergency medical treatment if you experience any of these symptoms.

No matter what type of bug bite you have, it is good to know what bit you. Learning to identify a bug bite by how it looks and feels will help you know whether to treat the bug bite at home or seek immediate medical care. Here are 13 bug bites and what they look like:

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