Now that the warm weather is here, we’re not the only ones out in the backyard. Unfortunately, some pesky critters have a different idea of what it means to enjoy the outdoors. Insects can be a nuisance year-round, but with outdoor festivities beginning, it’s the perfect time to get a bug bite education.
Here are some tips to help identify what type of bug is ruining your fun, where its favorite spots are, and what to do when this particular kind of uninvited guest crashes your party.
The most distinctive aspect of ticks and their bites is that a tick will attach itself to you after it’s sunk in its teeth. Most people will notice the bite simply because the tick is still there. Ticks do not attack in groups, so there will be one, single red bite, says Healthline.
Like many other bugs, ticks reside in the grass or woods, though they have specific spots they like to haunt on humans. Ticks are fond of damp, warm areas of the body such as the armpit or groin, according to WebMD. Ticks generally are not dangerous, but some carry certain diseases such as Lyme disease. If you are allergic to ticks or contract a tick-borne illness, you may experience headaches, nausea, rashes or flu-like symptoms.
The best way to handle a tick bite is to remove the tick as soon as you spot it using tweezers. Then wash the area with warm soap and water. If the bite is irritated, apply some antibiotic ointment.
Insect repellent can be used as protection, but if you want to avoid ticks altogether, it’s best to just stay away from the areas where they live.
Deer flies like to rear the heads just as the warmer weather begins. They inhabit wetlands, swamps and lakes, reports Healthline. Deer fly bites are extremely painful, and have a large, swollen and red appearance, says WebMD. If you’ve been enjoying a day at the lake and notice such a bite, there’s a good chance you’ve fallen prey to a deer fly.
Deer flies are some of the only flies that transmit disease. This includes tularemia, with symptoms that include headache and ulcers, reports the CDC. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, tularemia can be fatal. Because the disease can be hard to diagnose, let your doctor know if you think you've been bitten by a deer fly. For immediate relief, put ice on the bite and soothe it with anti-itch cream and antihistamines.
Deer flies are most active during spring and summer, so be prepared with insect repellent if you're at the lake on hot days. If you’re out on a swamp expedition, wear protective clothing that covers all your skin.
Chiggers leave red, blister-like welts. (Photo: Wilson44691/Wikimedia Commons)
What the actual chigger bite lacks in pain, it certainly can make up for later in suffering, says Healthline. When a chigger bites, the initial chomp goes unnoticed. You’ll only be aware once the tiny, red, grouped, blister-like welts show up, and you experience extreme and intense itchiness.
Chiggers tend to reside in grassy areas or berry patches. So if you want to avoid these little red critters, then maybe cloud gazing in the grass or berry picking on a warm day isn't a good idea.
Luckily with chiggers, there is no risk of disease and the itch can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Just be careful not to constantly scratch, or you may be at risk for infection.
Flea bites are red, small and usually appear in groups. (Photo: Clawed/Wikimedia Commons)
We typically associate fleas with pets, but fleas have no qualms with feasting on humans as well, reports WebMD. Flea bites are small, red and they appear in clusters. They are extremely itchy, and can also be painful upon impact and after the bite has occurred, says Healthline. You can help ease itching with over-the-counter anti-itch creams and antihistamines. Try not to scratch the area, because that can lead to infection.
Flea bites are usually harmless and will go away on their own, but sometimes you may experience a rash surrounding the bite. If you notice a rash or any other sign of an infection, see your doctor.
Fleas prefer tall grass, and can show up in your own yard, or in other outdoor areas. If you have a dog or cat, the best prevention method is to have your pets regularly treated with veterinary approved flea medication. If you don’t have pets and come across fleas in your yard, have your yard treated by pest-control professionals.
Brown recluse spiders
Brown recluse spiders can be identified by a violin-shaped spot behind their heads, according to Healthline. They are often found outdoors beneath woodpiles or leaves, because of their preference for dark, covered areas. They can also be found indoors under clothes or in cabinets.
Typically the bite is not felt at first, so you may not know you’ve been attacked. Symptoms tend to begin within the first few hours. The bite is a purplish or blue color, surrounded by a white colored ring. An ulcer may develop, and symptoms such as a fever or rash can occur. The bite is not usually fatal, but can be in rare cases for children or older adults. If bitten, you should seek immediate medical attention.