Wet or dry Spring and Summer, bugs are thriving! Don’t be taken by surprise by these tiny little biters. Below is information about common bugs in Colorado and tips to prevent getting bug bites …
Many bugs can give us reason for pause, including spiders, chiggers, bees and lice. But few get under our skin — quite literally — like the tick. If you enjoy the outdoors, be careful of ticks — they can attach as you brush past grass and plants. Ticks don’t always carry diseases, and most bites are not serious. But they can carry diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
As was stated most insect bites are not dangerous, though they sometimes cause discomfort. Bee, wasp, and hornet stings and fire ant bites usually hurt. Mosquito and flea bites usually itch. Insects can also spread diseases. In the United States, some mosquitoes spread West Nile Virus. Travelers outside the United States may be at risk for malaria and other infections.
However, getting any bug bite can be a creepy experience, especially if you don’t know what tiny creature left you with that red, throbbing welt on your skin. Don’t panic. Most bug bites and stings from common insects are harmless and heal quickly. But some bug bites and stings, like those from fire ants, wasps, hornets, and bees, may cause intense pain or even a serious allergic reaction. Others, like poisonous spider bites, require immediate emergency medical care.
Insect Bite Prevention
Here are some things you can do to prevent insect bites and their complications:
- Don’t bother insects
- Use insect repellant
- Wear protective clothing
- Be careful when you eat outside because food attracts insects
- If you know you have severe allergic reactions to insect bites and stings (such as anaphylaxis), carry an emergency epinephrine kit
When using insect repellent, follow the instructions on the package and reapply as directed:
- In general, higher percentages of the active ingredient provide longer-lasting protection. However, this increase in protection time maximizes at about 50% DEET.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Do not use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) that are treated with permethrin (an insecticide). You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items, yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
Cover Exposed Skin
As much as possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a hat. Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection. Some bugs, such as tsetse flies, can bite through thin fabric.
Avoid Bugs Where You Are Staying
Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress. When outdoors, use area repellents (such as mosquito coils) containing metofluthrin or allethrin.
Insect bites are often common when during the summer months but that is not the only time you can be exposed to them. Often when traveling it can be easy to go into areas you are un aware may contain these tiny creatures. Be sure you are taking the proper precautions at all times to limit the risk of exposure.
Diseases That Can Result from an Exposure
Insects (mosquitoes, lice, fleas, bed bugs) and ticks are able to transmit a number of diseases caused by infectious agents: viruses (chikungunya virus, yellow fever, dengue fever, etc.), bacteria (Lyme disease, plague, etc.), parasites (malaria, sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, filariasis, etc.).
Everyone Loves the common mosquito, right? Well perhaps it will help to know why they come swarming in to create that itchy spot on your skin and how.
Mosquito bites are caused by female mosquitoes feeding on your blood. Female mosquitoes have a mouthpart made to pierce skin and siphon off blood. Males lack this blood-sucking ability because they don’t have the need for protein in blood.
As a biting mosquito fills itself with fluid, it injects saliva into your skin. Proteins in the saliva trigger a mild immune system reaction that results in the characteristic itching and bump.
Mosquitoes select their victims by evaluating scent, exhaled carbon dioxide and the chemicals in a person’s sweat.
Some ways to avoid mosquitos are:
- Avoid or remove any standing water
- Wear Light colors
- Use insect repellant
- Avoid Certain times of the day
- Wear appropriate clothing
- Use an insect net
- There are many foods you can eat that will help such as garlic to repel the little pests.
What to Do if You Get Bitten
To treat bug bites and stings at home, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
- For painful bites, such as a bee sting, take an over-the-counter painkiller, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always follow the directions on the label and use the correct dose.
- For bites that itch, apply an ice pack or an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone. Another option is to take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine.
- To reduce swelling, apply an ice pack to the bite.
Symptoms of a Severe Reaction Include:
- shortness of breath,
- unconsciousness, and even
- death within 30 minutes.
If any of these occur see a medical professional immediately as it can be a sign of some far more serious reactions.
This article was recently edited and republished. Original publish date was June 22, 2018.