Mystery Bug Bites

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:29 PM

 itchiness resized 600











I'm sitting here looking out my window this morning watching the Santa Ana winds whip through trees, blowing everything through our office property.  The wind dries everything out, including your skin. I just reached for the industrial size, extra healing lotion because this wind has taken it's toll on my legs and arms.  Which is what inspired me to this blog post.

Every year we pretty much know when the Mystery Pest calls start to ring in.  We understand that many people suffer with various skin bumps, intense itching, sores and feel that they have "bug bites". unfortunately, diagnosed bites most often have a different origin. 

Most of these calls have had no visible insects or arachnids (spiders) and can further be complicated my medical doctors offering "looks like a bug bite" without any conclusive evidence to support that claim. Most of these calls are produced by a host of
other reasons that are not pest related.  The belief that an insect, seen or not seen, is a powerful thing to overcome, especially when the victim is convinced there can be no other explanation.  This can be one of the hardest things in our business to resolve when there is nothing there.  One of the reasons for this is their willingness to open their check book to have us just go ahead and spray regardless.  Well, I understand that there may be companies that would be happy to do this and walk away without every really identifing any pest at all, hoping it will kill the "NO SEE'MS and go about their day.  The problem with this is you are owning the problem to be pest related. Not to mention it is a violation of the law to treat unless a pest was properly identified.  If it isn't pest related, then pesticide isn't going to make the problem go away, so in many cases the company comes back out and does it again...We all know the definition of insanity right?  "doing the same thing and expecting different results".  Now you have an unhappy customer that paid good money for a bad job and now has pesticide all over who knows where. 

Always consider the possibility of known biting insects before other causes. There are many inspection technicques that can be implemented to help determine this. There are insects that certainly could be responsible for bites, and I have listed several below:

  • Fleas
  • Lice
  • Mosquitoes
  • Mites
  • Chiggers
  • Scabies
  • Spiders
  • Bed bugs
  • Bat bugs
  • Swallow bugs

Just like the no-see'ums have a season typically, so do biting insects.  The conditions can be very restricted to the outdoors, indoors, night time, just to name a few. Some insects may bite away from the home and not show symtems until a day or two later, such as chiggers.

Education is our best tool sometimes when we have difficulties establishing a partnership with clients. Developing trust in people open doors to solutions.  Pesticide is only a tool in our tool box, knowing when to reach for it is knowledge, knowing when to leave it alone and go another route is integrity to our craft, also organic.

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Tags: Chiggers, mystery pest, mites, bites

Chiggers: An Insect Nuisance in Los Angeles, CA

Posted by Mark A. Puglisi, ACE on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 @ 10:44 AM

How Do You Get Chiggers

Chiggers in my opinion is one of the worst pest to get "bit" by because the itching is so intense that it will keep you awake at night.  Chiggers are so small that you typically won't see them in the landscape or on your person.  By the time you realize you were a victim, the chigger is long since gone, leaving behind their damage.

As you can see from the picture above, this chigger is sitting on the edge of a Dime!  So what is a chigger you ask...  The chigger is the first stage of a mite that otherwise feeds on plant materials in its later stages, and then called a Harvester Mite. However, the first instar nymph loiters in grassy areas and attaches to a passing animal, often finding people as the first food opportunity that goes by. Since they get into shoes and lower areas of clothing it is the ankle area that gets the brunt of their attack, and they get under our clothing and seem to prefer to feed where clothing and skin make close contact, such as under the socks.

They do not feed on blood, and in a sense do not bite us so much as just dissolve our skin with their saliva and feed on the liquified skin tissues. How nasty is that, their saliva that causes that intense itching for days (and nights) following their feeding. That itching can be sooooo satisfying to scratch at, but this can also lead to causing sores on the skin that can worsen or get infected. Chiggers do not vector and diseases to people (yea!) probably because they go to us right out of the egg stage and do not feed on animals in subsequent stages of their lives.

     Chiggers do NOT bore into your skin, but feed on the surface for just a few days. The itching commonly begins after they are already gone. They do not suck blood, but feed on skin tissues, and their red color is just their color, not because of blood in them. They cannot lay eggs in our skin because it is only the first instar that feeds on us, and adult mites (which are the egg layers) do not. Relief from the itching may be gained from topical ointments or antihistamines.  Control of chiggers should center around keeping grasses mowed short in areas of human activit, and possibly applying a labeled insecticide to the grass and surrounding low-lying shrubbery. Synthetic pyrethroids would be excellent to help control them.

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Tags: Chiggers, How do get chiggers