How Do I Know What Kind of Bug Bite I Have?

Medically Reviewed on 1/20/2023
Bug Bite
You cannot eliminate all bugs around you, but you can take steps to minimize your risks of bites.

Insect bites and stings can cause discomfort, inflammation, and mild to severe allergic responses.

  • Insect bites or stings deliver venom, saliva, or other irritants through the skin.
  • These irritants activate the immune system and result in swelling, redness, pain, and bumps at the bite site.
  • Severe allergic responses can cause generalized symptoms, including swollen lips, widespread skin rash, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Some insects may potentially transmit disease-causing parasites through their bites to humans. You must identify the bug by looking at the bite to get appropriate treatment to prevent or cure any parasite infections in the early stages.

How to prevent bug bites

When playing in parks or walking through bushes, it is best to wear protective clothing that covers you as much as possible.

Bite and sting prevention includes the following:

  • Wearing closed shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Use protective gloves and clothing when gardening.
  • Wear shoes when you go outside, even around your house.

What are the most common bug bites and how to identify them?

Several insects can be found in your home, particularly in the kitchen, bed, garden, and playground. You cannot eliminate all bugs around you, but you can take measures to keep them a bay.

The most common bug bites you may experience and their symptoms

  • Mosquito bite
    • Female mosquitos attack humans for blood.
    • Before sucking the blood, the mosquito injects saliva into your body.
    • The chemicals in saliva provoke immune responses and cause redness, swelling, and itching at the bite site. Some people may even develop tiny bumps on the skin hours or days following the bite.
    • Antihistamines and anti-itch creams will help alleviate the symptoms.
    • Malaria, dengue, filariasis, and Zika are transmitted into the body through saliva and cause infections. 
    • These parasitic infections are deadly and may lead to death.
    • You may not eliminate mosquitos, but using mosquito nets to cover your surrounding areas, strollers, and baby carriers will help keep them out.
  • Fire ant bite
    • Fire ant stings leave a mark that distinguishes them from other insect stings. The wounds are round, pus-filled blisters that resemble pimples.
    • Fire ants and aggressive venomous ants cause painful stings.
    • A fire ant sting often starts with a sharp pinching or burning sensation right after the sting. This pain is brief, lasting only a few seconds to minutes.
    • In some instances, the intensity of itching or burning may get stronger over the next few days.
    • Most stings heal without treatment.
    • Serious complications that may need medical attention include:
    • Brush off the ant from your skin and wash the affected area with soap and cold water.
    • Take oral antihistamine and apply anti-itch cream on the skin.
    • A cold compress can help with pain, burning, and swelling.
  • Spider bites
    • Various spider species bite, and some are highly venomous.
    • Spiders have two fangs; two small holes can be seen on the affected skin.
    • The venom causes pain, inflammation, swelling, and itching.
    • Some powerful venom can cause necrosis, which could present as a white blister or ulcer surrounded by thickened brown skin.
    • These lesions take months to heal, and in some cases, surgical intervention could be necessary.
    • Symptoms of spider bites include:
    • The treatment depends on the symptoms and the type of spider sting.
    • Wash the affected area thoroughly with water and apply iodine.
  • Tick bite
    • Ticks feed on human blood.
    • Usually, tick bites are harmless, but they can cause a serious allergic reaction.
    • Ticks bites are red and may appear as a bullseye.
    • You can find the tick attached to your skin halfway buried into the skin.
    • When the tick leaves the skin, a small red bump forms in the area.
    • The bite area could be itchy, red, and swollen, and a blister may form.
    • Ticks transmit Lyme disease. You must remove the tick slowly so that it will not release its saliva into your body. Never kill the bug because you will be exposed to the bacteria.
    • Muscle pain, tiredness, chills, and fever could be present.
    • Wash the area with water and pat dry. Antibiotics may not be necessary.
  • Bee stings
    • A bee stings by inserting a barbed stinger into the skin. The barb lodges into the skin, and venom is injected into the body through the stinger.
    • The symptoms of bee stings vary among people.
    • Some people have pain, redness, and swelling in the affected area.
    • Some people may have serious allergic reactions, which necessitate treatment.
    • Swelling of the tongue and throat, breathing difficulties, skin rash, and a drop in blood pressure are some symptoms of serious allergic reactions.
    • The sting site may get infected, and pus discharge may occur. You must consult a doctor for infected wounds.
    • Avoidance is the only prevention. Do not go close to a beehive.
    • If you spot a bee, let it go and do not agitate it.


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Medically Reviewed on 1/20/2023
Image Source: iStock image

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