Kevin Hathorne, technical director and board certified entomologist for Terminix Service, Inc., the ninth largest pest control company in the U.S., answers the questions that bug us all the most.
Q: Something keeps biting my family and I in our house but doesn’t seem to affect my cat. Any thoughts on what it might be?
A: There are many things that can cause skin irritations that may be perceived to be insect bites, but can be caused by something else. A thorough inspection by a reputable pest professional will confirm or rule out possible arthropod infestations. Sometimes this may take a few days as monitors may need to be placed and then collected after a couple of days to see if anything is present. There is a short list of possible biting arthropods that can be ruled out upon inspection. Here is an example of the most common biting arthropods:
- Fleas – bites will be mostly on the legs and ankles.
- Bed bugs – Bites are typically only on exposed skin when sleeping. Signs of bed bugs can be seen near where the person sleeps (blood spots, fecal spots, caste skins, etc.)
- Bird or Rodent Mites – bites usually on arms and legs and only occur near bird or rodent nest locations.
- Outdoor pests like thrips, biting midges, mosquitoes, etc. – bites occur on exposed skin and after being outside.
Once these have been ruled out then other non-pest causes need to be explored. Other causes may be scabies mites (treated by a doctor), allergic reactions, environmental stresses, or reactions to medications. We would suggest consulting with your family doctor or dermatologist for help on these.
Feel free to contact a local Terminix pest professional by calling 1-800-Terminix and schedule a free pest inspection. Keep in mind that if a biting arthropod infestation is not found during the inspection, getting the house treated “just in case” will not solve the problem.
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