What’s Biting Me?
Suspect biting arthropod cases in the home or office can be an anxiety-ridden experience for many people, especially people who exhibit lesions or urticaria. Often times lesions appear without a known cause, and it’s common for people to automatically suspect it’s an insect or arachnid such as spiders or mites. Although this is sometimes the case, there are several other possibilities including:
- Foods, medication, and infections can cause lesions that appear to be “bites”
- Detergents, cleaning products, and other households chemicals can cause some sensitive people to develop rashes, hives, or wheals
- Pet dander, pollen, dust, and dust mites, which are common in most homes, can cause some people to feel “itchy” and subsequently develop lesions from scratching that can appear as “bites”
Ceratopogonidae (Biting midge or no-see-ums)
- Environmental contaminants that affect indoor air quality, surfaces, furniture, and clothing may be the cause
- General skin dermatitis, including dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, may also mimic insect “welts” or lesions
- Certain medical conditions can cause the appearance of hives, wheals, or lesions that may be misidentified as insect bites
- In office settings, where multiple people feel bitten by “paper fleas,” which do not exist, the root cause can be static electricity combined with micro-shards of paper
- Exposure to poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak, can cause itchy rashes which may appear as insect bites
- Active (athletic) people may experience activity-related heat rashes or abrasions from tight fitting gear that can mimic insect lesions
Ornithonyssus sylviarum (Northern fowl mite)
In the biting arthropod category, there are a number of possibilities including:
- Mites (fowl “bird” mites, rodent mites, scabies, Demodex brevis, Demodex folliculorum)
- Carpet beetles (carpet beetle and their larvae do not bite, but may cause irritation)
- Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae, no-see-ums)
- Bed bugs
- Lice (head lice, body lice, pubic lice)
Inspection, Identification, Testing & Assessment Services
We provide consulting services for suspect biting arthropod cases (SBACs) in residential and commercial settings. This work is performed exclusively by Jonathan Boyar, A.C.E., our company founder and principal, who has more than 40 years of working in this specialty area. Our lab services include high-power microscopy for arthropod identification and environmental PCR swab testing.
Caution: Do not apply store-bought insecticides or hire pest control companies to treat for “unknown pests.” It’s essential to identify the source of the problem in order to prescribe the proper remedy.