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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Small biting, flying red bug


NOVA gardener wrote at 2009-06-03 14:08:52
Hi.  I have already checked both those options prior to this answer.  It is like a beetle with bright red (tending towards orange) head and part of its body.  The red coloring gradually changes to a completely black towards the rear of the insect.  It flies but I don't think its a fly.  Its bite is huge compare to its size and I have spent days scratching.  Not only is it hard to get rid of the itch, it kind of stings as well, and definitely, extends way beyond the original site!  It has taken me a while to realize that my constant itching on my arm is caused by this insect because it doesn't look like a biting insect at all.  I also live in Northern VA and have never seen this bug until the last year or two.

Aimee wrote at 2011-05-26 18:46:33
I don't have an answer, but I can corroborate your story. I have also been bitten twice now by a bug matching your description. I live in Midlothian, VA and this is the first time I have ever seen these bugs. The only difference is that my bites only itch and sting for about 30 minutes before healing up, but that is probably due to how allergic one might be to them. I would love to know what they are.  

Steffers wrote at 2011-06-03 15:38:37
I also am a victim to NOVA and Aimee's insect attack. I live in Henrico, VA and have spent the last hour searching for what this bug may be. I have a similar reaction to NOVA, there is a welt the size of a penny, almost like a wasp sting on my arm where this little orange bug bit me days ago. It looks like a miniature oblong ladybug. It's definitely NOT a biting fly or thrip. It bit me while I was standing next to my large Azalea bushes. I flicked it off my arm, hopefully to its demise.

TomP wrote at 2012-05-20 03:36:07
I have had these bugs in my yard for a couple of years. It has always been in one shrub bed. When I worked on that bed there was a risk of a bite. When bitten there was a minor itch, bur a day or so later a red area appeared (1-2 inches accross) that persisted for a week or two. Today while working in a different bed, I was bitten twice. I saw the bug each time. Mosquito size welt, but I sprayed benadryl and symptoms disappeared. We will see if the red spot appears tomorrow. I sprayed insecticide on the entire bed.  

SEM in DC wrote at 2012-05-29 14:58:11
They are in the rhododendrons on the south side of my house (in Washington, D.C.,)and for nearly one week I have been sporting half a dozen welts courtesy of the mighty biters.  I wish someone could identify what it is.

SEM in DC wrote at 2012-06-11 16:44:21
Continuing the search for the identification of the small black biting flying insect with a red head, I asked the master-of-most-garden-problems at my local garden center.  He named the Azalea Plant bug, Rhinocapsus vanduzeei.  After he identified it, I found the following site:  It certainly looks like the bugs in my rhododendrons and azaleas.  Note that it is a beneficial (except to humans!) insect, so wide-scale pesticides are not the best solution.  Long sleeves, long pants and gloves for the humans is a wiser choice.  

JB wrote at 2015-06-04 17:41:20
First year for this biting insect in Raleigh, NC. Have 4 bites, first lasting 3 weeks! Small black with read head and antennae flying insect. Feel the bite then delayed raised nickel size area that itches like mad. Hot water for as long as I can stand it helps with usual anti inflammatory treatments for bites.  

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Sue Kayton


Silkworm expert. Have raised them as a hobby for 20 years. I do not identify unknown insects.

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