What Bit Me?
Ever wonder if that itchy insect bite was actually from a mosquito? Having the ability to properly identify the symptoms of different insect bites cannot only change how you treat the bite, but can be lifesaving if you experience a serious allergic reaction.
Below are descriptions of and treatments for the bites and stings of the most common creepy crawlers you may find buzzing about on your next outdoor adventure.
There are more than 3,000 mosquito species found worldwide. Mosquito habitats differ depending on the type of mosquito and its location, but generally mosquitoes tend to stay close to stagnant or transient water sources such as melted snow pools or flooded ditches. They also like to breed near marshes, woodlands and fresh water swamps that have thick brush and wet or muddy grounds.
Symptoms: A soft pink or red welt with intense itching in a localized area. Bites can be small or grow to be the size of a quarter depending upon the individual’s allergic reaction.
Treatments: Wash the area with soap and water and use a cold compress to reduce the itching and swelling. Use TriCalm to alleviate the itch as often as needed. If swelling becomes painful, take an antihistamine, like Benadryl®. Avoid intense scratching. Breaking the skin can lead to scarring or a more serious skin infection.
Warning Signs: Mosquitoes are a common carrier of other known viruses such as malaria and West Nile. If you are experiencing a fever, head and body aches, vomiting or other flu-like symptoms three to 14 days after you have been bitten, seek immediate medical attention.
Fire ants, or stinging ants, like dry sunny areas and can be found in pastures, parks, lawns, meadows and crop fields. They live together and build anthills or mounds that can be found near rotted logs, stumps of trees, or underneath buildings.
Symptoms: Red, itchy, stinging bumps that turn into white, fluid-filled blisters.
Treatments: Clean the bites with soap and water. To stop the itching, apply TriCalm as often as needed. If you are experiencing swelling, redness, pain or a fever you may have a secondary skin infection and should seek medical attention.
Warning Signs: Some people may develop the symptoms of anaphylactic shock; consisting of swelling of the throat, and tongue, difficulty breathing, or nausea. If you develop these symptoms call 911.
Horse and deer flies
Horse or deer flies are blood sucking insects that can range in size from three-fourths inch to 1 ¼ inch. These flies are attracted to warmth, movement and shiny objects. Horse and deer flies can be found on beaches, near lakes, streams, ponds, dirt roads, and wooded areas.
Symptoms: Immediate pain at the site of the bite, with a red, itchy bump or welt.
Treatments: Wash the bite with soap and water and apply ice or a cold compress for 20 minutes at a time. To relieve the pain and itching, apply TriCalm as often as needed. Avoid intense scratching so you do not break the skin and cause a secondary skin infection.
Warning Signs: Bites from horse flies and deer flies can cause bleeding. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, see your doctor.
The most dangerous and painful spider bites are from Brown Recluse spiders and Black Widows. These spiders tend to live in dry, dark areas such as sheds or garages. Brown Recluse spiders are found in desert climates in Texas, Arizona and California. Black Widows are found all over North America, but are most common in the South.
Symptoms: Bites can range from pimple-like bumps to large quarter-size welts. The pain from the venom can also spread to the nearby muscles causing cramps, chest pain and nausea.
Treatment: For intense pain you may want to take an acetaminophen (Tylenol®), and use TriCalm to relieve itching and pain at the site of the bite.
Warning Signs: If possible, kill the spider and place it in a plastic bag, so that your doctor can identify whether the spider is poisonous. Spider bites can also cause MRSA (staph infection), which, if not treated can be fatal. Black Widow or Brown Recluse spider bites can cause severe reactions such as failure of the renal or nervous system and even death in small children.
Bee or Wasp
Although they look similar, bees and wasps live extremely different lives. Bees are pollinators whose life work is to move from flower to flower and bring pollen back to their beehive colony so they can produce honey. Wasps are predators who live off rotted wood for nourishment and produce a paper-like nest made from chewed wood pulp, mud and twigs. Wasps tend to hideout in dark, dry places like attics or under homes in order to protect their thinly constructed nests. Unlike bees, wasps are easily provoked. When a wasp feels they are in danger, it will attack, releasing a pheromone that alerts its family members, who will then seek revenge on the intruder.
Symptoms: A red welt on the skin with intense stinging pain, and itching, light-headedness, swelling and hives.
Treatments: Gently remove the stinger by scraping the surface of the skin with a credit card (tweezers may push the stinger further into the skin). Clean the skin with soap and water. Anti-inflammatories (Advil®) will help reduce the pain and swelling in the area. Use TriCalm as often as needed to relieve itching and burning pain.