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 – bed bug 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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