Insect Bite on Skin with Blister. Stock Photo

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.

After hatching, baby chiggers wait on plants for people or animals to pass by. When they do, the chigger attaches to them using tiny claws. Once attached, it pierces their skin and injects its saliva (spit). The spit contains digestive juices that dissolve skin cells. The chigger then eats the dissolved cells, which provide the protein it needs to grow into an adult. After a couple of days the chigger falls off, leaving a red bump on the skin.

Kissing bugs, also known as assassin bugs, can pass on the parasites that cause Chagas disease. According to one study, more than half of these insects carry the parasite. In the United States, Chagas disease affects about 300,000 people, according to the CDC.

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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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Chigger bites aren’t contagious, so kids can’t catch them from someone or give them to somebody else. They can still play sports and do all normal activities unless the itching makes them too uncomfortable.

The National Pest Management Association suggests wearing light-colored clothing and insect repellent as the most important strategies for prevention.

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Insect Bite on Skin with Blister. Stock Photo

Black flies (sometimes called buffalo gnats or “no-see-ums”) are also common throughout the United States and can bite (though they’re not known to spread disease), according to Spokane Regional Health District. They’re small in size and usually bite around the head, particularly the eyes, ears, and scalp. Their bites can cause swelling, numbness, and soreness that can last for several days.

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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.

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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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.

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Chiggers are found all over the outdoors, including in grassy fields, along lakes and streams, and in forests. It’s the baby chiggers that bite people and animals.

Chiggers are a form of mite that inject their saliva so that they can liquefy and eat skin. In response to a chigger bite, the skin around the bite hardens. The surrounding skin becomes irritated and inflamed (pictured), and an itchy red welt develops.

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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.

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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.

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.

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