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Certain bug bites can also spread illnesses, such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, Dengue fever, and yellow fever (all transmitted by mosquitoes); Lyme disease (from ticks); Rocky Mountain spotted fever (from dogs or wood ticks); and Chagas disease (from a blood-sucking insect known as a “kissing bug”).
Although it’s not always possible to know which bug is to blame for your latest bite (or bites), you can often get a pretty good idea based on your skin, the site of the sting, and a few other clues. Ready to get to the bottom of your bug bite mystery? Here are pictures of the most common bug bites to keep on your radar.
Insect bites and stings
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.
Mild itchiness and pain are normal reactions to insect bites and stings, but if you experience anything more severe than these, including shortness of breath and swelling away from the original site, you should contact a doctor or seek medical attention immediately. It’s possible you could be having a severe allergic reaction, suffering from an insect-borne disease, or experiencing an infection.
If you have hives, get many bites, or notice a bite that looks infected, you should visit a board-certified dermatologist for treatment, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Bedbug bites can occur anywhere on your body but typically show up on uncovered areas, such as your neck, face, arms, and hands. It’s good to know that although they’re common, bedbugs do not carry disease, according to the CDC.
19 Pictures of Common Bug Bites and How to Identify Their Symptoms
Hornets typically build their large paper nests in tree hollows, as well as undisturbed spots in barns, attics, and even walls, according to the University of Kentucky. Hornets will defend their nests (and may attack you) if you get too close, so leave the area if you come across one. If you come across a solitary hornet, leave it alone; hornets typically only sting when threatened, the University of Kentucky notes. And if you do get stung, leave the area right away to avoid another attack, Russell says.
Unfortunately, experience shows us that almost all bug bites look strikingly similar. In fact, experts say that it’s hard to positively identify the offending insect unless you actually catch it in the act. Everyone’s immune system reacts to bug bites and stings differently, producing unique symptoms in each victim, from swelling to itching to pain.
Most spider bites are not poisonous and cause only minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site. Other spider bites are a real emergency. If you develop an allergic reaction to a spider bite, with symptoms such as tightness in the chest, breathing problems, swallowing difficulties, or swelling of the face, you need medical care at once. Because spider bites can get infected with tetanus, the CDC also recommends staying on top of your tetanus booster shots by getting one every 10 years.
What Bit Me? Spot These 13 Bug Bites
Whether you first notice a sharp pinch, a nagging itch, or a painful sting, discovering a brand-new bug bite—sometimes instantly, but often only days later—is no fun. Some ache, some beg to be scratched, and the worst of the bunch do both. And often, you haven’t the slightest clue which critter could have been the culprit. Have a nasty bite you can’t attribute to a specific house bug or outdoor pest? We’re sharing bug bite pictures to help you properly identify the offender, and how to best treat the wound.
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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.
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.