Almost everyone can agree that spring is best enjoyed when outdoors. However, staying outdoors too often has one disadvantage – getting bitten by insects that one might not be familiar with.
The last thing you want is for your anticipated vacation to get ruined because you landed up in the ER after getting stung or bitten during your outdoor adventure. If you are not careful and aware, you could even contract a deadly disease.
Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the different types of insects around you, the diseases they cause, and which ones to beware of.
Here are the 6 types of insects you need to stay clear of.
It wouldn’t feel like you were outdoors if you don’t return home with mosquito bites after taking a walk through the park. Belonging to the Diptera order, they can be identified easily due to their constant and annoying buzzing.
At present, there are more than 3,000 various kinds of mosquitoes worldwide. Mosquitoes are known for their stingy and itchy bites. However, that isn’t all, they are known to spread several diseases such as malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Japanese encephalitis.
Besides these, mosquito bites can also trigger an allergic response which could sometimes be severe. One such severe allergy caused by mosquito bites is the Skeeter Syndrome.
According to Dr Kara Wada, MD, in the division of allergy and immunology, Ohio State University, Skeeter Syndrome is when a patient develops a significant swelling due to an insect bite, especially mosquitoes.
Compared to a typical inflammatory reaction, the reaction in a patient with Skeeter Syndrome is larger. They can even have systemic or whole-body symptoms, including uneasiness, fever, as well as feeling ill.
There is a variety of ticks that can be found in various countries. They are known as parasitic arachnids that carry and spread many diseases such as Lyme disease and Powassan virus.
It is essential to know which ticks inhabit which region, the diseases they spread, as well as how to identify them as this helps you deal with a tick infestation efficiently.
According to Thomas Mather, PhD, Director at University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease, people ought to know that different ticks carry various germs.
Although the media makes people believe that all and any tick is a carrier of any germ or virus that they may have heard of, that isn’t true. For instance, Lyme diseases can only be spread through Western black-legged ticks and black-legged tick varieties.
Whereas Lone Star ticks are responsible for alpha-gal allergy, also known as red meat allergy. This allergy is caused by the bite of a Lone Star tick that causes them to have an allergy to Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, which is found in pigs, sheep, and cows.
Bees and Wasps:
It is very common to hear of allergic reactions caused due to yellow jackets, bees, hornets, wasps, etc. It is often due to these stinging insects that humans experience life-threatening allergies when they are attacked and stung.
Compared to tick or mosquito bites, the bite of a stinging insect like bees and wasps can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis which consists of various signs and symptoms including hives, dizziness, fainting, and swelling on the face and lips.
If an allergic reaction is extremely severe, you may require medical assistance or using injectable epinephrine, and in some cases, hospitalisation until the patient is stable.
There are various types of ants and while most of them do not bite, there are few types of ants that do bite and harm humans. The type of ants that you should be aware and careful of are fire ants.
Similar to wasps and bees, fire ants too can trigger anaphylaxis and severe allergic reactions for some individuals. Just like how injectable epinephrine is used for an allergy caused by bee stings, it is also used for ant bites.
Fire ants are native to South America. People believe that they migrated in 1918 to the Southern United States on a cargo ship travelling to Alabama from Argentina.
Triatomine Bugs (Kissing Bugs):
It is best not to underestimate them based on their sweet name. This deadly bug is given this name due to its feeding and biting habits. Kissing bugs are known for biting humans around their eyes and mouth and for feeding on human blood.
The faeces of a kissing bug is deadly to humans as through its excreta, it transmits a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite causes serious heart disease, the Chagas Disease, which affects the heart.
This deadly disease causes arrhythmic, strokes, heart failure, and sudden death. Kissing bugs are found in South and Central America. They have been identified in around 28 states in the United States and have reached as far as Delaware.
The Black Death, also known as the bubonic plague that caused severe harm to Europe in the Middle Ages was transmitted by fleas. However, that is not all, the cat flea, aka Ctenocephalides Felis, is known for carrying various harmful pathogens.
Along with causing itchiness and irritation, flea bites can also trigger a severe allergic reaction. Additionally, the cat scratch fever is a term used for a disease transmitted through cat fleas and caused by the bacteria Bartonella.
So, what can you do about it?
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure! However, the preventative measures that you are required to follow would vary as the type of insect varies too.
Therefore, it is better to be aware of and familiar with the types of insects that are present in your region. It would be a challenge to diagnose and treat your illness if you have not seen the insect that bites you.
As there are various types of things that appear like bite marks and cause itchiness, it would be difficult to determine whether a mosquito, kissing bug, bee, wasp or any other thing caused it.
While you are identifying the bug, it is essential that you also keep a track of the time of the bite and the progress of the symptoms.
If you are going to be spending a lot of your time outdoors, it would be best to follow some general guidelines such as:
- Wearing fully covered clothes. Full-length sleeves, long pants, socks, and closed shoes will help you stay safe from insect bites
- Using a bug-repellent and permethrin-treated clothing when stepping out of your home
- Regularly inspecting your pets for fleas or ticks after they have come back from their walk
- Inspect yourself for any ticks or fleas after you have visited a vicinity with pets or with a lot of greenery
- To treat mild symptoms to bites, you can use over-the-counter medication to eliminate inflammation, redness, and itchiness
- If the symptoms do not reduce and instead worsens or if new symptoms develop, it would be best to visit a doctor and get it examined
Muzi Tsolakis is the founder of Protech Pest Control in Australia that is well-known for its mosquito control services and flea infestation eco-friendly treatment.