Thanks to a warm and humid environment, South Florida is home to hundreds of different bug species. To the disdain of the residents and visitors, many of the annoying critters like to bite human flesh. Many of the bites are harmless, but some can be fatal if medical attention is not sought.
Bites That Carry Diseases
Mosquitoes need human blood to continue their existence, and most South Floridians would say they've donated more than their share of blood to the pesky critters. But worse than the annoyance of the bugs is the fact that they have recently brought dengue fever back to South Florida after almost 80 years of being free of the disease. Additionally, on top of dengue fever, a southern Florida mosquito bite can transmit encephalitis and the West Nile virus.
Ticks are another bug that bite and carry disease. The most commonly known disease they transmit is Lyme disease, but there are others, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Bites from Critters Almost Too Small to See
Bed bugs and lice bite humans but are tough to spot. When beg bugs bite, they insert their mouth into the human's skin and suck out the blood. They leave some of their saliva behind which can cause a reaction in some people that can last up to a week. Bite victims can experience swelling, irritation, and itching.
Lice are usually found on a person's head but can be on other body parts, including the pubic area. Like bed bugs, the saliva from lice is what causes itching and the desire to scratch. Depending on how sensitive a person is to the saliva, it can take weeks for the itching to start.
Bites That Aren't Technically Bites
The four main caterpillars in South Florida (the puss caterpillar, the saddle-back caterpillar, the Io moth caterpillar and the hag caterpillar) technically don't bite people, although it feels like it. Caterpillars have poison glands on their spine which feel like a bite to its victims. Most people experience only an itching or burning sensation when a caterpillar's spine releases some poison on them, while others experience severe reactions that require medical attention.
Bug Bites With Toxic Venom
Bites from widow spiders and fire ants are common in Florida, and both types of creatures have toxic venom. There are four main kinds of Florida widow spiders: the southern black widow, the northern black widow, the red widow and the brown widow. There tends to be swelling around the area where two red spots appear. Medical attention is recommended with a black widow bite.
Fire ants, also called red ants, are found in backyards and dirt mounds all across southern Florida. They bite when they feel threatened and their nibbles create a burning and stinging sensation on the skin. Once bitten, the skin around the bite area swells with fluid. As the toxic venom is not water-soluble, the area needs to be cleaned with soap and water, rubbing alcohol or an over-the-counter cleanser. You can get relief from the pain, itching and swelling with ice packs or medical creams and/or pills. If you have excessive swelling or chest pains, get medical help immediately.
Bites From Mites
Chigger mites are common critters in south Florida. Chigger bites often result in intensely itchy, red, blisterlike lesions. They emit a clear puslike fluid when scratched. To treat the bites, take a warm shower to stop further feeding by washing away any remaining mites. Treat mild reactions with over-the-counter skin medications. Bird mites normally feed on domestic and wild birds but will bite humans if there are no available birds. The bite often results in a blister accompanied by a very itchy rash.