Insects live in trees, plants, the ground and abandoned structures. Most will bite if they are provoked. People often provoke the insects without meaning to disturb them. If a person does not notice the insect and does not feel the initial bite, the only way to identify what happened may be through knowing what insect bite rashes look like (see Resources). Most people know what a mosquito bite looks like, but knowing what a brown recluse spider bite looks like early on can save a person’s life.
Ants and Flies
Common insects such as ants and flies bite, but each leaves a distinctive rash or mark, which lets you know what kind of insect it is. Fire ants are red in color and leave a red welt with a white center. The bite is not life threatening, but the venom from the bites of many fire ants can be dangerous. Many flies do not bite, but one that does is the horsefly. Horseflies bite into the skin, slicing it open and injecting an anticoagulate, so the blood will flow freely. This differentiates it from many other bites, because the area will be bleeding and red.
Spiders, Fleas and Ticks
Less common, biting insects are certain spiders, fleas and ticks. A black widow spider leaves two red fang marks when she bites. When the brown recluse spider bites, the skin turns red and develops a white mark in the middle reminiscent of a bull’s eye. It blisters and becomes very painful. Other insects, such as fleas, leave red, raised lesions. Ticks are usually found in the woods, so a person may encounter them when hiking or off-road biking. The tick bites and then climbs in behind the bite. The skin looks red around the bitten area. If the tick is carrying Lyme disease, you will see a red blotch with a red circle around it.
Mites fall into the category of biting insects. Chiggers are mites that live in tall grass. They attach to the skin and often the victim does not feel the bite. When they fall off a few days later, they leave behind large, itchy, red welts. Scabies are mites that enjoy the warmth between the fingers or on the inside of the wrist, making these the location of choice for the tiny insects. Scabies look like a red itchy rash covering the infected area. Bedbugs live in bedding and leave itchy red bites on the person concentrating on the arms and shoulder region. If an insect does bite you, seek proper care for the bite (see Resources).