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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Please help, if you can.



I have been trying to figure out what has been biting me and my family for a few months now with no luck. I live in West Virginia in a small town just outside of Parkersburg. To start with we have no pets at all. We have not traveled outside of our home town. For the past few months me and my 3 sons have been getting bite by a mysterious bug. My husband has not gotten bite at all. We are all Caucasian. All the bites have happened on the couch. No where else in the house. The bites are large painful and hot to the touch. The very strange thing about the bites is that they are only on exposed skin like our arms,neck or face, never on our legs or backs ect. My husband and me have sprayed for bed bugs/flies/and spiders twice but it didn't help we tore the bottom and part of the back of the couch off looking for any sign of a bug and found nothing. We scrub the couch with borax, this helped for awhile but about 3 weeks ago the bites started again. And we still have not seen any sign of the bug. I have some pictures of the bites I will try to attach. If you can help I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Dear Charity - Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to determine the cause of 'mystery bites' without actually capturing/seeing the culprit(s) in the act of biting. That aside, I doubt very much that spiders would be the cause, as they very, very seldom bite without being molested in some way (such as picking them up or pressing against skin if caught in bed clothes, etc. As there also are other causes of skin lesions that can present as 'bug bites,' I suggest that you consult a dermatologist to see if a medical opinion can be obtained.
Hope this helps at least a little,
p.s. - I am going to put myself on vacation for at least a short while as I cannot get Internet service at home (ISP problem) and I have go into our library quite some distance away in order to get online...

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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