There’s nothing like being awoken from a sound sleep by sudden itching, pinches or stings. These sensations send us scrambling from our warm covers, checking for bite marks and scouring our beds for the creepy crawlies we just know are using our bodies as their latest meal.
Although there are plenty of bugs that find ways to share our living spaces and even our beds, there are also other irritants, that mimic bug bites, that cause localized skin irritation, swelling and redness. Reactions to allergies, chemicals, solvents and even emotional stress and anxiety can cause skin reactions that look just like bug bites.
The most frustrating thing about “bites in the night”, is that we most often do not see or can not find, what has just bitten us. Sometimes we don’t discover bites or what looks like bites, until after we’ve woken up and the itching starts. Then the hunt is on for our nighttime attackers.
The most common nightly bitters include:
Bed Bugs. Bed bugs are in fact nocturnal parasites that love to dine on sleeping humans. When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places – not just beds. Bed bugs can be found in beds near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard. If the room is heavily infested, you’ll find bed bugs in the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains, in drawer joints, in electrical receptacles and appliances, under loose wallpaper and wall hangings – even in the head of a screw. Even though bed bugs feast on blood and may travel between donors, science has proven, so far, that they do not transmit disease.
Spiders. Spiders generally enter homes through cracks and crevices around the foundation, or doors and windows. Most bites occur when they are squished against our skin and they have no other choice but to warn us away by biting. Humans are not on their menu and they will more often than not run from us when they feel threatened.
Mites. Mites are not insects; they are more closely related to ticks and spiders. Mites found in homes are brought in by other animals. Examples of these would be, Bird Mites and Rat Mites. Although these mites prefer their respective hosts, they will bite humans. Dust Mites do not bite humans, instead, they can harm humans by becoming airborne (as well as their feces) and triggering asthma attacks or make breathing difficult. They may cause skin irritations on those sensitive to their presence.
Fleas. There are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas. Some of the most common fleas include cat fleas, dog fleas, oriental rat fleas, tropical hen fleas, rabbit fleas and human fleas. Although the names of the fleas usually indicate the preferred host, all of these fleas may choose dogs, cats, or humans as hosts. Fleas can be a source of both irritation and disease. Flea bites cause small, red, itchy bumps, usually on the ankles and lower legs. People with allergies to flea bites suffer from hives, rashes or generalized itching. Both cat and dog fleas are carriers of the common tapeworm parasite, which affects both dogs and cats. Fleas found on wild rodents such as squirrels, rats and prairie dogs have been known to transmit diseases such as the plague.
Mosquitoes. While male mosquitoes are harmless — feeding only on nectar and water — the females of the species are out for blood. Feeding on blood makes it possible for the females to produce eggs and keep the species thriving. Most mosquitoes are dusk to dawn feeders and the best way to keep them out of the house is to batten down the hatches and block all entry points.
Mosquitoes are known disease carriers, spreading Malaria, West Nile Virus and the Zika Virus which is currently of great concern, plus a whole lot more. Don’t forget to protect your pets as mosquitoes carry heartworm and other diseases that adversely affect their health too.
Carpet Beetles. Though carpet beetles do not bite, hairs on the larvae are irritating to some people. Carpet beetles may be found anywhere in a home. When skin is pressed against the larvae, bite-like lesions may appear. Thorough vacuuming and elimination of food sources is usually sufficient to keep carpet beetle infestations under control.
Scabies. These are microscopic mites and feed in human skin. They are transmitted mostly by physical contact with an infected human or pet. Only the human scabies mite (not found on pets) can multiply and sustain infestations in human skin. They are not treatable with pesticides applied to the home or bed. A doctor’s visit is in order to find relief from these creatures.
Lice. Head lice, body lice, and pubic lice all feed on blood and are spread by close physical contact with another infested person. Head lice live exclusively among the hairs on the head. Body lice, which resemble head lice, live on the body and infest clothing and bedding. A doctor’s visit might be in order to get rid them, although over the counter products are available.
No Matter which of the above is your current nemesis, your most effective weapons are your vacuum cleaner and your washer and dryer. A good cleaning and scrubbing goes a long way in protecting against “Bites in the Night”.
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Check out this link for pictures and descriptions of common bites: