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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Itchy small red bug bites


QUESTION: Hi and thanks door being available to help. My family and I have been getting bit since just before Christmas, when we bought our first live tree. During this time we've also been cleaning out a very dusty and neglected basement. Also, our cat, who stays inside exclusively has been in the dusty window sills. I called and had a professional bed bug inspection done and will be taking they cat, who has not been scratching, to the vet to rule out fleas. The bites are on our legs, wrists, faces, ears, my entire upper back, and now my lower back. They are red and are isolated, sometimes they are in small clusters of four or five. In the case of my back, it's wide spread. It's worth noting that my allergy test from years ago notes that I am extremely sensitive to dust mites. It's January in Baltimore,  MD. Could chiggers still be a problem? What about fleas? The bites are INSANELY itchy. The only visible bug discovered has been a carpet beetle. Thanks again for your insight.

ANSWER: Arnetta,

Chigger mites would not be around at this time of the year. I think dust mite allergy is very likely. What sometimes happens is that one person in the family has a strong allergic reaction (any allergy) then other members will begin a sort of "sympathetic" reaction and start to exhibit similar symptoms. Sort of like having an itchy head when someone starts talking about head lice. I'm not an allergist but it might be worth talking to one. Fortunately dust mite allergy can be treated (see for more information) with a combination of medication and dust control. Hope this helps.

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QUESTION: Thank you for such a prompt response. Respectfully, I'm not sure about the sympathy reaction.  My four-year old came home from daycare with a bite on her scalp and one on her leg. They've only since multiplied. I will, however, surely follow up on your recommendation to see the allergist, before I lose my remaining sanity, :-) What are the odds that some other kind of mite might be residing in the window sill, I,e, rat mite? If you'd like, I can re-post once we meet with the doctor. However, it's been my experience that they have difficulty identifying bites for certain. I'd rather not re-wash ALL the clothing and linens in the household.

Rodent or bird mites are a possibility but unless you find a mite there's no way to say for sure since all these lesions (bites, various allergies) all look pretty much the same. Here's a picture of what the mites look like and they are visible without a microscope. I think seeing an allergist is a good idea.

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.


Ph.D. in Entomology

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