The Ultimate Guide To Insect Bite Identification

You have just been bitten by something. Now what? Do you wait for some poison to take hold, lie down, cry, just scream or select some other equally unhelpful option?

It is likely that none of the above will work, and you must rely instead on those iconic words of the Boy Scouts’ Marching Song; namely, Be Prepared.

If you can figure out what bit you, that is the first step to identifying a proper course of action. This is, like many things in life, easier said than done, but a little knowledge goes a long way in helping to understand the next steps.

The majority of bug bites and stings are harmless and heal quickly with no ramifications.

Some, however, like those from wasps, fire ants, hornets and bees can cause intense pain and spur a potentially dangerous allergic reaction.

Poisonous spider bites can also be very serious, and may require emergency medical attention.

While our expert pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists are always on hand to remedy any type of infestation, homeowners must be responsible to themselves and family members by learning to identify whatever bit them and understanding the ramifications.

Identifying Different Insect Bites


According to the Cleveland Clinic, an ant bite results in small, pimple-like marks on your skin. These can last for as long as a few days before  they go away.

Some species, like the fire ant, are venomous and their bites have been known to cause allergic reactions.

Carpenter Ant Bite

The bite creates a sharp pain followed by the feeling of a burn. If bitten, it’s important not to either scratch or break open the blisters that are likely to form, as this often causes an infection.

Bites from carpenter ants are also very painful because the insect sprays formic acid into the bite, which can make it feel as if the area around the bite is on fire.

Ant Bite Prevention Tips

Pestco specialists emphasize the importance of wearing insect repellent whenever outdoors.

While not a popular idea in the summer, proper clothing for outdoor barbecues and parties should include: closed toe shoes, long, light-weight pants and high socks. 

Perhaps most important of all suggestions is the need to learn to recognize ant mounds and stay as far away from them as possible. 


A bedbug bite is the answer to the question: what bites you 3 times in a row? While there is no pain involved in bed bug bites, there can be reactions afterwards of intense itching and inflammation that can last for several days.

How To Identify Bed Bug Bites


These 3 or more clustered red bites can be found anywhere on the body, but typically arise on exposed areas such as: neck, face arms and hands.

Bedbug Bite Prevention Tips

No matter how much of a bargain a second hand garment may represent, it is best to always wash such items in your washing machine on the hottest speed possible  to ensure no bedbug hijackers gain a foothold in your home.

Avoid buying second-hand mattresses, beddings and  linens unless they are packaged and factory-sealed, as the price of removing bed bugs from your home, even by the cost effective standards established by Pestco, will far outweigh any second hand store discounts.

Bee Stings

Bee stings cause instant, sharp pain, red welts and slight swelling around the site. The venom contains proteins that affect skin cells and the immune system. The stinger usually remains within the skin as a tiny black dot.

Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder

Try to scrape it off unless it it is embedded under the skin, in which case it is best to leave it alone.

It will come off naturally with the normal shedding of skin cells. Usually, the pain passes without incident, but if the person is allergic to the venom, it may trigger the need for emergency treatment.

Bee Sting Prevention Tips

Bees are a part of the outside world and are predestined to collide with human outdoor activities, especially during the warmer times of the year.

The pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists at Pestco suggest a few measures that can help deter bees.

They  include: tightly closing food containers and trash cans, avoidance of  wearing very bright colors or floral prints at picnics and such, and when driving during the summer, keep your windows rolled up as much as possible. 


There are more than 2,500 flea species in the world and more than 300 within the United States alone.

These insects feed on human blood, and while their bites rarely cause more than passing annoyance and irritation, some species can spread disease. Bite marks usually appear in groups of three or four a  few hours after the initial bite.

The affected area is often very itchy and is usually confined to the legs and feet. Within about 30 minutes, a red welt develops, and may, a day or two  later, become a nasty blister or wound.

The true danger with these bites lies in the fact that the scratching commonly causes secondary infections.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), EPA approved insect repellant and covering skin with long sleeves and pants serve as deterrents.

It is vitally important that home owners keep their pets free of fleas as well, which will  prevent their  spread throughout a home.

Certain Types Of Flies

Horse and deer flies are well known as biters, but their menu fare is almost always limited to animals. If, however, they are hungry enough and you, the hapless home-owner, is spending time outside, they may well bite you too.

According to the University of Kentucky, the intensity of their attack varies from year to year. The bites are painful, can cause swelling, bleeding or an allergic reaction. Symptoms are likely to fade away within a day or two after the bite.


According to the pest-control and pest-maintenance experts at Pestco, wearing light colored clothing and insect repellent are effective strategies for protection and prevention against horse and deer flies.


Immediately after a bite, the affected area becomes red, swollen and itchy.

After a few days, the swelling can reach up to 2 inches or more across the site. On average, symptoms usually last for a few hours and the experience should all seem like a bad dream within 5 to 10 days.

Bald-Faced Hornet Control

The Mayo Clinic suggests that the stinger should be removed and that hands should then be washed in soapy, warm water.

Preventing Hornet Stings

The CDC recommends the avoidance of perfumed sprays and deodorants if you plan to attend an outdoor summer event.

In addition, avoid wearing vivid colors and floral patterns. Seal all your garbage and recyclable cans and bins and rinse them out regularly.

If you are a Pittsburgh home owner and find a hornet’s nest on your property, do not touch it, pass go or collect $200! It is usually paper-like in appearance and resembles either the shape of basketball or a teardrop (of which you will shed many, if you dare to get too close.) Call the folks at Pestco immediately for help and stay out of the way.

Kissing Bugs

Also known as the “assassin bug”, bites usually appear as 2 to 5 red marks occurring around the mouth. Hence, the name.

There is, however, nothing romantic about these nocturnal insects that are known to transmit Chagas disease, which according to the  Mayo Clinic, is an infectious, inflammatory condition.

The bite marks are known to swell and resemble hives. Itching may last as long as a week.

Preventing Kissing Bug Bites

Seal cracks in your home and keep chicken coups and animal cages as far way from living quarters as possible.

According to our pest-control and pest-management experts at Pestco, it also helps to remove piles of leaves, rocks and firewood out of the yard and to clean cat and dog beds on a regular basis. 


Lice bites are titchy, tender and red spots that appear on the shoulders, neck and scalp.

The spots sometimes develop into a larger and more uncomfortable skin rash. Lice are so small that they can live unnoticed on clothing or bedding.

Although not known to carry disease, an infected bite can cause incessant itching and is likely to require medical attention.

Prevention Tips:

To prevent the spread of body lice, avoid physical contact or sharing clothing with anyone who is suffering from an infestation.

Regular bathing and changing clothes at least once a week will also help deter their spread. 

Mites And Chigger Bites

According to the Mayo Clinic, mites can cause scabies, which is a contagious very uncomfortable skin condition that is caused by a burrowing mite.

Their bites are known to be acutely itchy. Their preferred menu fare is animals but they are known to bite humans as well. Bites often go unnoticed, but sometimes the resulting red marks will develop into skin rash. 

Chiggers are a type of mite. They inject their saliva and eat the skin, which causes it to harden around the point of entry. Surrounding skin is often inflamed and an itchy red weal develops.

Preventing Mites and Chigger Bites

Wear protective clothing and tuck long pants into socks. Before venturing outside, treat clothing with insecticides, which can be either bug or mosquito repellant.


Identified as an itchy, round red or pink bump on the skin that disappears soon after the bite.

They can also cause small blisters to form, or dark spots surrounding the affected area. Female mosquitos need blood meals and cannot produce eggs without them. Most mosquito bites are harmless.

Protecting Pittsburgh From Mosquitos And Dengue

According to the Mayo Clinic, however, there are several species of parasite-infected mosquitos that spread serious disease.

The Aedes or Haemagogas causes Yellow Fever, the Anopheles mosquito transmits Malaria and and the Aedes specifically causes Zika virus in pregnant women, which often results in serious birth defects.

Preventing Mosquito Bites

To avoid being on the summer mosquito menu, wear light but long covering such as:long sleeves, long pants, socks and if you can stand it, high necklines.

Environmentally safe insecticide should also always be at your side. Pest management experts advise that preventing mosquitos from gathering outside your home begins with eliminating all standing water near your residence.

This also involves a careful monitoring and regular emptying of all those items in your yard that hold water such as :bird baths; buckets and planters.


Most spider bites are harmless although they can cause redness, pain and swelling just as many other bug bites.

This and the fact the bites can often go unnoticed, can make it problematic to determine if it actually was a spider that inflicted the bite.

Pittsburgh Spider Control For Infestations

Although not easy to see, the telltale signs of a true spider bite always include two puncture marks, which indicate the entry of the fangs into the skin. A bite from a poisonous spider, such as the black widow or a recluse is much more dangerous but easier to decipher.

There are some 30 species of black widows and more than 140 recluse varieties.

Their signatures are unmistakable and most often require medical attention. In the case of a black widow bite, signs include: redness, pain and swelling around the bite, which can spread into the abdomen, back or chest.

A recluse bite involves increasing pain over the first 8 hours after the bite and a wound with a pale center that turns dark blue or purple with a red ring around it.


Clearing your yard of debris and avoiding areas near piles of wood, rocks and seldom used boxes reduces hiding places for spiders.

Proper insulation and sealing of doors and windows can help to prevent spider ingress to homes.


As tiny as they are, some tick species are carry serious diseases.

The Black-Legged Tick, aka The Deer Tick, carries Lyme disease which has life-long health implications and the bite of the American Dog Tick spreads Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Check For And Remove Ticks

According to the Mayo Clinic, the rash that causes Lyme disease is a circular red area that can be 5 to 70 centimeters across that resembles a bullseye.

The John Hopkins Medical Center describes a bite from The American Dog Tick, which can be very serious, as resulting in an itchy rash that usually develops on the ankles and wrists 5 to 10 days after the bite in the form of flat pink spots. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever include: head and muscle aches.


Sprinkling diatomaceous earth in indoor/outdoor spaces deters ticks and other bugs as well.

Upon contact, this naturally occurring sedimentary rock, which crumbles into a fine dust, kills any insect with an exoskeleton.

It is also an effective preventive measure to aways wash your clothes on the highest heat setting.

In Conclusion

No matter what critter may have bitten you, learning to identify bites will reduce panic because you will b able to determine whether or not it requires medical attention and which steps you can take to alleviate pain.

If the bite occurs in your home, make sure there aren’t many other creepy crawlies living in your residence.

It may be an indication that you have an infestation, and if you live in or near Pittsburgh, you should contact our teams at Pestco!

We are always here to help with our cutting edge, cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions, which are focused exclusively on the needs of home and business owners. 

Give us a call and be safe!

Photo Credits: Pixabay

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