Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Insect Bite


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QUESTION: Hello Ed, this is a "what bit me question".  It started out with a 3-puncture-wound welt then morphed into this lovely heart-shaped pustule 24 hrs later.  I went to my Family Dr but he didn't know what to do with it. He's treating me with topical neosporin and oral Cipro antibiotic.  If I need to seek further medical attention I'd like to know. What an impressive and interesting career you've had Ed. What a privilege for the internet-public to have access to this pool of knowledge.

Thanks, Diane SLC, UT

ANSWER: Dear Diane - Did you actually witness/feel something bite or sting you? From your image, I would have guessed it more likely to be contact dermatitis of some kind. In any case, I would simply advise watching it, and see your physician should it appear to become markedly worse. As I am not a doctor, I cannot dispense any medical advice.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yes, I did feel it but did not see the lil culprit.  I understand about dispensing med advice, I'm simply trying to glean from your knowledge base it's identity and whether or not it is a threat to health. Thank you for your kind and prompt response.

Dear Diane - My reason for asking was because it is extremely difficult at best to determine what caused an arthropod bite/sting without actually seeing/capturing the culprit in the act. If an arthropod was involved in your case, I would suspect contact with the hairs of a stinging/urticating caterpillar. Given the circumstances under which you experienced the initial pain, would that have been at all possible?

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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