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Invisible and Imaginary Bug and Insect Bites


elderly lady

Bugs and insects you can't see biting you may be real or imaginary.

Most insects with the exception of certain species of mites and also scabies are visible to the naked eye. If you have welts or red bumps that you think are caused by bug bites, be certain before you start applying pesticides and insecticides and trying to kill something that is not there.

Bugs, bedbugs, mites, spiders, and other insects frequently annoy people and cause them to itch, scratch and worry. Sometimes this is a real occurrence. Sometimes it is purely imaginary and if not resolved, may lead to nervous disorders, imagined itches, excessive scratching, bleeding and even extreme fear of pests that do not exist.

If you are one of the growing numbers of people that are being "bitten" by something, but you can't see it, then don't feel all alone.

Sometimes, the "bugs" may be real. Sometimes they lay totally within the mind of the affected individual. If you are faced with the possibility of an imaginary infestation, a very careful and thorough examination of the premises should be conducted before applying any pesticides.

It is important to know that itches can be caused by many things. Of course the number #1 suspect is always the bite or invasion of certain pests known to bite humans, such as bedbugs, fleas, lice, certain mites (but not house dust mites), ticks, some species of thrips or psylids and so forth. If there are no signs of any bites, or bite marks, and you cannot see any visible bugs, then the chances are that the problem is not insect related, and is an "itch".

If however, small red dots do exist, then diagnosis of those dots needs to be performed. In cases where a single red bump is visible, there is a good chance that it is a spider or insect related bite. If there are multiple red dots or bumps, then a diagnosis needs to be made by a qualifed physician. Petechia is a very common disorder or condition where a small red or purple spots have caused bleeding into the skin. If Petechia is a consideration, then you absolutely need to consult with your Doctor.

Other Itch Causes Include:

  • Seasonal allergies.
  • Sky dryness, especially in the winter.
  • Soaps and shampoos used in bathing.
  • Static electricity.
  • New clothing, allergic reactions to dye's, chemicals.
  • Airborne irritants.
  • Dermatologic conditions.
  • Reaction to medications.
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes, chicken pox, and many others.
  • Excessive scratching that can lead to itches and skin related disorders.
insect bite on face

Bug and insect bites usually have a red swollen center and contain "pus" which can be either whitish-yellow or yellow-brown due to a pyogenic bacterial infection.

Common irritants encountered in the workplace or other environments include tiny airborne particles of paper, metals, ceramics, fiberglass fibers, or other insulation materials. Exposure to chemicals, changes in temperature or humidity (seasonal changes, like the dryness that occurs when the winter heating season begins), or simply reaction to scratching due to some other condition may be involved.

Recommendations To Deal With Bugs Biting You

Before applying pesticides for bugs and insects, you need to be absolutely certain that an infestation exists. If there are no bites or bite marks visible, then there is a 99% chance that the itch is not insect related.

If an insect bite is visible and there is real evidence (bite marks, bumps, redness, etc) then the insect needs to be identified before ANY pesticide is applied. Simply applying pesticides indoors to try and kill something you can't see and have no evidence of is like shooting a gun into the air hoping to hit something (Ron Dawson A.C.E.). The danger is that over application of pesticides indoors is likely. Applications of various pesticides without any real target pest can cause frustration, depression, and cost a ton of money.

If a true problem with a biting bug is identified - for example, with bedbugs or mites, then the situation should be treated and managed appropriately.  However, if you cannot find any solid evidence that pests exist, then the application of pesticides INDOORS IS NOT RECOMMENDED, and a trip to your family doctor and / or dermatologist is in order.

Most pest control companies will not deal with a customer that has itches and is scratching from an insect that cannot be found or cannot be identified. Treatment for insects and application of pesticides without a true target pest is illegal in many states. That is why if you are suffering from itching and are scratching then you need to take control of the situation, and think logically about what is happening.

If however you have bug bites and your doctor cannot diagnose any physical condition that would cause you to think that you are being bitten by insects then there are some things that you can do to help.

  1. Place all clothing items in sealed plastic bags such as the AmCan Water Soluble Laundry Bag.
  2. Wash all clothing items in hot soapy water to kill insects.
  3. Vacuum and clean all floor surfaces.
  4. Wash all bedding and linens in hot soapy water.
  5. Have carpets and rugs professionally steam cleaned.
  6. Change soaps and shampoos when you bath or shower.
  7. Use Catchmaster 288i Professional Bug Traps placed around the home or room to capture insects for indentification.
  8. Use CB 80 Aerosol to fog the room or home. Take precautions and read the product label before using foggers indoors.
  9. Use Sterifab to treat sofa's, mattresses, linens and other sensitive areas
  10. Treat outdoors only using a general purpose insecticide such as Demon WP or Talstar as a preventive only.
  11. Use moisturizers and skin lotions when you start itching.


NEVER SPRAY FLEA CONTROL OR INSECTICIDE PRODUCTS ON YOUR SKIN! Doing so could cause acute poisoning and could land you in the hospital, or even worse, cause death! Remember, pesticides are designed to kill. Don't use them on your body without a medical prescription or advice from your doctor.

Advice For Pest Control Professionals About Delusional Bug Bites

If you can't find any target pest - don't treat. It's against the law. Some customers have an emotional or sensory issue such as an overwhelming fear of bugs that is the real problem. Other problems could be a change of medication, diet, skin disorders, allergies - the list goes on. The bottom line is that if an application of pesticides indoors is made without any visible AND CONCLUSIVE proof, you are opening yourself up for liability. Many court cases have been lost when the the pest company was only trying to help and gave in to the customers wishes.

If no insect is involved, the delusion of their presence maybe the true problem. When confronted with this situation, do not put yourself into the position of making a medical or psychiatric diagnosis or recommendation. You are not a doctor (unless you hold a PHD). A general knowledge of the other causes of itches can be very helpful in reporting the absence of pests to the client. Another useful approach is to ask the client to collect the specimens on a piece of tape. Using a microscope, or even a cell phone, magnify the potential target pest to show what it is. Most of the time what the customer thinks is an insect is actually dirt, lint, dust, etc.

If no pests capable of biting are found, then no pesticide application should be made. Explain that no evidence of bugs could be found and that certain medical conditions, chemical irritants or medications may cause itching.

NEVER suggest that the customer is crazy and to see a psychiatrist. Suggest that they see a dermatologist who can investigate the possibility of some dermatologic problem. In many cases, the sensation of bug bites is real. The customer is not crazy, the sensation can be very real. it's just that the real issue is not insects.

In many cases, scratching and itching is the result of a skin disorder, or some dermatologic issue and is not insect related. In industrial situations where airborne particles or severe humidity changes might be involved, environmental changes may be needed to remedy the problem.  If a family residence situation is involved, it could be any number of factors. Allergies or allergic reactions to food, medications, clothing, etc. are the most common.

Whatever the problem, never attempt a pesticide treatment if no insect pest is involved. Remember that it is illegal to use a pesticide where no pest is present. In addition, treatment for a pest that does not exist is not ethical.

Honesty is the best policy. To retain the confidence of the client, be frank in making a recommendation. Show continued interest in the problem, and offer to talk with the physician or others who might become involved. Treat the client with dignity, consideration, and patience.

Just remember this - if you are ever sued for any reason over a situation like this, you will go to deposition first. During the deposition, you will be asked for copies of your license, your certifications, and you anything that makes you an expert. A pest control applicators license does not make you an expert in a court of law. You will then be asked to provide a sample or pictures of the insect that you treated for with a complete diagnosis, identification (including species and subspecies). When you can't provide any proof that you are a real expert nor can you provide proof of what you treated for, you are liable. Don't make this mistake and end up the real victim.

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Click Here For More Information On Head Lice And Body Lice

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