Bug Bites To Be Concerned About

Bug Bites to Watch Out ForThere are a lot of bugs out there that can bite you (or sting) but what bug bites do you need to be concerned about the most?

1. Deer Tick Bite

The deer tick is the primary cause for Lyme Disease today. Lyme Disease for decades as been more of a northeastern United States issue which has made it difficult for an accurate diagnosis. But in recent years has shown up all over the United States and medical professionals are getting more familiar with the tick bite and Lyme Disease. The primary tick to be concerned with is the Deer Tick (aka. Blacklegged Tick) and the transfer of bacteria from their bite. If you are bit by a Deer Tick then it is a good idea to keep the tick for positive identification and to visit a medical doctor. If you did not notice a tick bite, of a bite without being able to identify the tick, then be on vigil for the distinctive ‘bullseye’ rash.

2. Brown Recluse Bite

The brown recluse spider is one of three venomous spiders in the United States, one of two which we find here in Tennessee (and the Southeast in general). Identifying brown recluse spiders can be confusing to many people. When they bite a person it is usually when the spider has been trapped against a person (in a shoe, under sheets or pillow, etc). The venomous bite is generally not fatal but has been attributed to creating circumstances that lead to death (think of a severe allergic reaction). Most often the brown recluse bite will create a skin lesion. The lesion can be severe enough to require professional medical treatment. If you have a brown recluse bite seek out medical support.

3. Black Widow Bite

The black widow spider, unlike the brown recluse, is quite easy to identify. They are dark black and have a nice bright red splash of color on their back (often hourglass in shape). The black widow spider can be found in areas that have some clutter or coverage that are not disturbed by humans. Basements can be common for inside the house, woodpiles or sheds can be common for outside the home. The bite does not leave big distinctive marks in comparison to what insect bites we have already mentioned. You will likely have pain centering around the black widow spider bite that will shift into the abdomen and back. Cramping, sweating and a host of other symptoms will follow the initial bite pain. Seek medical support with the first 8 hours of a bite. Be sure to try and capture the spider to get a solid identification.

OSHA Black Widow Spider Facts PDF

Other bug bites that you should be concerned about are mosquito bites and bee stings. The mosquito bites could lead to acquiring a disease such as West Nile Virus or Chikungunya. Bee stings can be a huge concern when someone is allergic to the stings. In the case of young children one may not know if they are allergic to bee stings yet, so adequate precautions should be taken.

Tennessee Bugs that Hurt

Tennessee Bugs that HurtThere are a lot of bugs out there in the world that do nothing but look weird and freak us out. However, there are a number of bugs here in that actually do pose a danger to humans either through carried diseases or poisonous bites. So from West Nile to the Brown Recluse here is a pretty good run down of Tennessee bugs that can cause a little hurt.

This article from the Murfreesboro Post (middle Tennessee) highlights a handful of the bugs that you need to be concerned over.

For years I tended to not worry too much about being bitten by mosquitoes, ticks or other common insects.

For years I tended to not worry too much about being bitten by mosquitoes, ticks or other common insects.

Although I considered the bites a nuisance, I didn’t pay much attention to the need for protection from these aggravating pests.

Times have changed, though. Now we all should be paying heed to the warnings from experts to avoid being bitten by local ticks, mosquitoes and spiders.

The most common pesky bites come from mosquitoes. In our area some mosquitoes are carriers of the West Nile Virus. Each year local health departments will confirm through testing that a small percentage of local mosquitoes are carrying West Nile virus.

Not all mosquitoes carry the virus. The question is whether you really want to play the mosquito lottery. It is impossible to know which ones carry the virus and which do not.

There is no reason to panic, but caution and prudence is advised. Even those that are bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile have a relatively small chance of becoming seriously ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile virus will cause a fever and flu like symptoms in about one out of five people who are infected.

For some unfortunate victims, however, the disease can be serious or possibly even fatal. Fortunately less than 1 percent of those infected will be subject to the serious neurological illness (meningitis or encephalitis) that can be fatal.

However, the outcome of the serious consequences of the disease can be so tragic that it is a good idea to use repellants wisely.

Many people are also concerned about Lyme disease after a tick bite.

In our area Lyme disease can be transmitted by a tick bite and can be a very serious disease, but it is still very rare. Although the problem is significant in Northern states, in the South is it not a widespread. Less than a dozen confirmed cases are reported on average annually in Tennessee.

However, Lyme disease can be very serious if an infection occurs. Widespread arthritic pain and other symptoms can go on for years. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary if Lyme disease is confirmed.

The disease is carried primarily by deer ticks, which can be identified as a small tick with a black spot on their back.

Although many people including some health care providers believe that another tick known as the Lone Star tick also carries Lyme disease, the CDC refutes this belief. The Lone Star tick can be distinguished by a white spot on the back.

Although it does not carry Lyme disease, the Lone Star tick has been implicated in causing severe red meat allergies that can result in serious illness.

Tennessee ticks also may be carrying Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although the name Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) may lead one to assume it is primarily a problem in Western states, in fact Tennessee is one of the states where the disease is more widespread.

As the name implies, people that have been infected will often have an occurrence of a rash that is associated with wide spread red spots. The illness can be very severe or possibly fatal in some individuals.

A couple of common spiders can be a problem for Tennesseans. The Brown Recluse spider is quite common in businesses, homes, storage sheds and other buildings in the area.

As the name implies the brown recluse tends to avoid people and will only bite if injured. This can happen accidentally in beds, furniture, when putting on shoes or boots or in other circumstances. If the spider cannot escape and a body part ends up pressing against it, a bite can occur.

Brown recluse spider bites can cause local tissue damage that can result in permanent loss of tissue. It is very rare that wide spread damage occurs.

Black widow spiders can be found around household foundations, under rocks and logs and in other outdoor places. These spiders are a deep glossy black with a bright orange or red hourglass shape on their underside.

Contrary to legend, black widow bites are not likely to be deadly and rarely cause permanent damage to the victim. The bite can cause very severe pain and other symptoms that can last for a week or more however.

Taking the time to teach family members how to avoid being bitten by these insects is the best plan to avoid the potentially serious consequences of a bite.

What Makes Black Widows Poisonous?

What Makes Black Widows Poisonous | Johnson Pest Control
The black widow spider is one of three poisonous spiders in the United States. However is generally not aggressive to humans.

In our area we find two of the three venomous spiders in the United States, the brown recluse and the black widow. We talk often about the brown recluse, but what makes black widows poisonous?

With recently released study results we have new insights into the chemical cocktail that the black widow uses to debilitate its prey. It sure sounds crazy to think about. The comforting part is to know that black widows are not aggressive spiders. You really do have to get into their space to get them in attack mode.

What Makes Black Widows Poisonous?

The difference is that female black widows produce ample amounts of highly potent venom to the point that these spiders are even crafting stronger webs to handle ever-bigger prey. The findings were presented at the 2015 annual conference of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The most powerful neurotoxins present in black widow venom are called latrotoxins, which take their name from the group of widow spiders known as Latrodectus. The most toxic of these latrotoxins is alpha-latrotoxin that hijacks the poor victim’s own nervous system.

“If you got bitten by a black widow, alpha-latrotoxin would travel to the pre-synaptic regions of your neurons: this is the juncture right between the synapse of one neuron and your muscle cells or another neuron, and it inserts itself into the membrane,” explained Jessica Garb of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in a press release.

She added, “This causes all of the neuron’s vesicles to dump out their neurotransmitters. And that’s really what’s painful.”

Garb and her colleagues determined that latrotoxins are more common in the world of arachnids than previously thought. Many spiders produce the toxins to help with their own hunting, but they make such a watered down version that they’re not harmful to most people.

Female black widows, on the other hand, have quickly evolved super concentrated venom that can kill a person. Each year, about 2,200 people report being bitten by a black widow, but most recover within 24 hours with medical treatment.

Many people who are bitten develop few symptoms since the spider may not inject its venom. Black widows are actually not very aggressive spiders, so you really have to startle or otherwise threaten one to get a hostile reaction.

As for why black widows, in particular, have evolved such potent venom, Garb and her team think it was to expand the spider’s diet. Black widows can consume small mammals and reptiles, in addition to more typical smaller prey. As their name suggests, females may also kill their mates, so it seems they are not averse to eating most things.

The researchers also discovered that black widow spider venom contains a cocktail of other toxins that boosts the effectiveness of alpha-latrotoxin.

Understanding spider venom could lead to better treatments for bites. Some scientists also believe that the venom holds untapped medical benefits. Research is ongoing, for example, on how latrotoxins and related compounds might hold the keys to treating Alzheimer’s, cancer, pain, and even sexual problems.

If you were curious about that third poisonous spider in the United States? The hobo spider is found in the pacific northwest portion of the United States.