We’ve all been there—sitting outside and enjoying the outdoors when you feel the sudden pain of a bug bite. Whether its a fly, mosquito, flea or tick, bugs come in many different forms and leave their mark in different ways. Scientifically, arthropods can be divided into four main categories: 1) flies and mosquitos, 2) fleas, ticks, and mites, 3) lice, and 4) true bugs. Today on Sod University, we are going to focus mainly on the first two categories of arthropods by looking at the types of bugs you may encounter and how to prevent bites.
First up, flies and mosquitos:
While malaria was eradicated from the U.S. in 1954, these mosquitos that are most common in the eastern U.S. can still leave you with an itchy bug bite. Luckily, common bug repellant sprays are effective at preventing bites and according to researchers at the University of Florida, you should concentrate repellent sprays on your lower legs, ankles, feet, and wrists, where mosquitos love to bite. Below are three images representing the physical differences between the common malaria mosquito (anopheles Psorophora), the southern house mosquito (culex mosquito), and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes Albopictus). The Asian tiger mosquito has distinctive black and white stripes while the common malaria mosquito has a yellow-orange tint in its head and abdomen. The southern house mosquito is mostly brown with darker brown markings on its abdomen.
Pictured from left to right: malaria mosquito, southern house mosquito and Asian tiger mosquito
These flies are larger than mosquitoes and other flies, and can leave painful bites. However, common bug repellent sprays such as OFF are effective protection and these bugs are mostly present in the summer season and less so when the temperature gets colder. A deer fly is slightly smaller than a horse fly and has dark bands across their wings.
Pictured from left to right: horse fly and deer fly.
Commonly known as “No-see-ums,” these minuscule bugs can be the bane of outdoor activities beginning in September and into the fall. Midges travel in large swarms so it is easy to detect a group of them nearby, and they are most common in marshy and wet areas. Fortunately, common bug repellent sprays have also proved effective for these biting bugs too. Hover over the image below to get a closer look.
Now on to fleas, ticks, and mites:
A common misconception: ticks are in fact not insects but arachnids, like spiders. The brown dog tick is most common east of the Rocky Mountains, but they can be present in limited areas along the Pacific coast, while the lone star tick is most common in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S. These ticks are most active in early spring to fall, and they can latch onto humans and go unnoticed. The best way to prevent ticks is to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs when you are outside in an area where ticks are present, and check yourself for ticks as soon as you are home. However, if you do find a tick on you, the best way to remove it is to use tweezers to steadily remove the entire tick and dispose of it in a closed receptacle. Ticks can carry harmful diseases so it is important to remove a tick as soon as you notice it in order to prevent any infections from reaching your bloodstream.
Pictured from left to right: lone star tick and brown dog tick
Mites are also classified as arachnids and these particular subspecies are most common in the northern regions of the U.S. These pests can attack humans when they migrate from bird nests to nearby buildings, and they can cause irritating rashes on the skin, but pose no serious threats to people. The best way to get rid of and prevent mite infestations is to wash linens and vacuum the area regularly.
This particular type of flea is the most common domestic flea and they can affect pets and people. A cat flea bite often causes a red, swollen bump that can be extremely itchy, and it can cause an allergic reaction in some people or carry bacterial diseases. The best way to prevent a cat flea infestation is to wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants to cover exposed skin or use a bug repellent spray that contains DEET.
Aside from the above methods of bug bite prevention for your personal self, it is also helpful to use products to treat the surrounding area of your home and lawn if a pest infestation occurs. Try Spectracide Triazicide for mosquitoes, or Wondercide Natural Ready to Use Yard Flea, Tick and Mosquito Spray for all three.
If you are interested in information on insects and pests commonly found in lawns, be sure to check out our Insect Identification blog. You can also check out all of Sod University’s Insect & Pest Control blogs here.