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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/autoimmune response to bite


A dear friend of mine (58 y/o male)was bitten by some type of bug (I believe a beetle in Florida) about 15 years ago.  He immediately lost hair around the bite, and within a few months was completely hairless, body wide. Soon after, he developed diabetes, requiring insulin. He is still w/o hair and a diabetic today.  

Is it possible he has had an autoimmune response to this bug? I have heard of a "Suicide Beetle" that could have this impact, but cannot find out about it online.
hank you for you time, Karen

Dear Karen - Your friend is going to have to find some other cause for his ailments, as I know of absolutely no insects, beetles or otherwise, that could cause such a reaction. And the 'suicide beetle' sounds like just another urban legend such as the famous toilet seat spider - see for details.

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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