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.
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You probably won’t feel pain when a bedbug bites, but you may see three or more clustered red marks, often forming a line. Some people develop a mild or severe allergic reaction to the bug’s saliva between 24 hours and 3 days later. This can result in a raised, red skin bump or welt that’s intensely itchy and inflamed for several days.
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Another emerging concern is a species of mosquito found in Florida, called Aedes scapularis. Previously found mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, research indicates the mosquito is now well established in Florida. The invasive species has been found in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to one report . It’s unclear if the Aedes scapularis mosquitos in Florida are spreading any types of disease, but elsewhere, they have been shown to spread some viruses, including the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) and the one that causes yellow fever.
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When to See the Doctor for Spider Bites
Bee stings cause a sharp pain that may continue for a few minutes before fading to a dull, aching feeling. The area may still feel sore to the touch a few days later. A red skin bump with white around it may appear around the site of the sting, and the area may itch and feel hot to the touch. If you’ve been stung by a bee before, your body may also have an immune response to the venom in the sting, resulting in swelling where the sting occurred or in an entire area of your body, including your throat and lungs. If you have this type of allergic response, called anaphylaxis, it is a medical emergency that needs treatment immediately. Symptoms of a severe allergy to a bee sting include hives, swelling, trouble breathing, dizziness, cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and even cardiac arrest.
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.
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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”).
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How can you prevent bug bites? Here are some tips from the CDC:
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.
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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.
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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.