Insects are most active during the warm summer months, and we spend more time outdoors on their turf. The result is bug bites. Most bug bites are merely a nuisance, but some insects that feed on human blood carry harmful diseases. Bug bites can also indicate an infestation of bed bugs or fleas in your home. Many insect bites have a similar appearance, but there are a few clues you can use to figure out what’s biting you.

  • Deer ticks burrow their heads into the skin of their victims to feed on blood. Ticks are often discovered while still feeding and may look like a freckle until you look closely. There are many varieties of ticks and several carry diseases. In northern New Jersey, the most dangerous tick is the deer tick which carries potentially-debilitating Lyme disease. A distinctive bull’s eye rash, a dark center encircled by a red ring, develops several days after being bitten. Administration of an antibiotic within 24 hours of being bitten can prevent Lyme disease from developing. If you are bitten by a tick, doctors recommend you not remove the tick and head for your nearest emergency room. If this is not possible, capture and preserve the tick so it can be tested and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Head lice. A common problem in schools, head lice live on the scalp and lay their eggs on hair shafts. Head lice feed on small amounts of blood and their bites cause an itchy red rash on the scalp. Problems occur most often when scratched bites become infected.
  • Brown recluse spider. The venom from these spiders causes a large ulcer at the bite site. Ulcers have a blue center encircled by a pale ring that is surrounded by a red ring. Initially, the ulcer scabs over quickly, but the skin remains ulcerated after the scab drops off.

More insect bite identification next time