These Are the Blood-Sucking Bugs You Need to Watch out For

Insects of all kinds make most people shudder but, whatever your opinion on creepy-crawlies, we can all agree the blood-suckers are the worst. Bugs that feed on blood are found throughout the world and come in all shapes and sizes.

From bed bugs to leeches, bloodsuckers can cause problems ranging from a mild annoyance to some pretty serious diseases. Ticks and mosquitoes, in particular, are notorious vectors for a wide array of harmful pathogens, but all biting bugs are best avoided.

So, which are the most common types of blood-sucking bugs you need to watch out for, and how can you keep them away from you?

Mosquitoes

What are they?

These small, flying insects are found all over the world and are easily recognized by their high-pitched whine.

Mosquitoes are generally most active around sunset and sunrise, which is when they come out to feed.

The bites of mosquitoes are often very itchy and can form small, red welts on the skin.

Why should you avoid them?

Depending on where you’re from, you may consider mosquitoes to be nothing more than a mild annoyance. However, nothing could be further from the truth; these tiny bugs are, in fact, the deadliest creatures on the planet and are responsible for over 700,000 human deaths annually. They do this by transmitting harmful pathogens to the people they bite, which can cause a wide range of serious (and sometimes deadly) diseases. Mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of illnesses such as malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever, and Zika, to name but a few.

Of all the insects that feed on blood, mosquitoes are the most dangerous. With that in mind, how can you stop them from biting you?

How can you keep mosquitoes away?

Keeping mosquitoes away can be tricky, as these insects are highly adapted for finding people to feed on. However, taking the following steps can help to keep them at bay:

  • Use a mosquito repellent spray. Bug sprays can be applied directly to the skin to repel mosquitoes and prevent them from landing on you. The most effective sprays contain DEET or picaridin, though natural formulas containing lemon eucalyptus oil can also work well.
  • Wear long, loose-fitting clothing. The best way to prevent mosquitoes from sucking your blood is to make sure they can’t access your skin. Wear long, loose-fitting clothing in the evening, or in areas where there are lots of mosquitoes.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net. Make sure mosquitoes can’t attack you while you sleep by installing a mosquito net above your bed. This is especially useful during summertime, or if you live near a large body of water (like a lake).

Ticks

What are they?

Ticks are a type of bloodsucking arthropod that’s found all over the world. These bugs are common parasites of birds, mammals reptiles and humans, and are especially active during the warm, summer months. Ticks attach to the skin of their host when they feed and can be tricky to remove properly.

However, it’s important that you do; incomplete tick removal happens when their mouthparts break off under the skin, which can lead to infections.

Why should you avoid them?

Ticks can be tricky and painful to remove, but this isn’t the worst thing about them by far. Like mosquitoes, ticks can harbor some pretty nasty disease-causing pathogens, and their bites are known to transmit Lyme disease. In most cases, this bacterial infection can be effectively cleared with antibiotics but, if left untreated, can lead to further, more serious health complications.

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How can you keep ticks away?

  • Use an effective bug repellent. A potent bug repellent can be very useful for keeping ticks at bay. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, or there are lots of ticks in your area, choose one containing DEET or picaridin for the best possible protection.
  • Cover up. As with mosquitoes, the best way to prevent tick bites is to make sure they can’t access your skin. Wear long, loose-fitting clothing when you venture outside, especially if you’ll be visiting grassy areas.
  • Check yourself, your clothes and any pets thoroughly. Always inspect yourself carefully for ticks when you come indoors. If you have a dog or cat, check their coats for ticks whenever they come in from outdoors.

Bed bugs

What are they?

These small, brown flattened insects are nocturnal bloodsuckers, emerging at night to feed on people sleeping nearby. For this reason, they are most often found lurking in bed linen, though they hide away in cracks and crevices during the daytime.

Why should you avoid them?

Despite being very, very itchy, bed bug bites by themselves are not usually considered dangerous. However, excessive scratching of affected areas can break the skin and allow infections to get in. Aside from this, the psychological impact of living with bed bugs can be significant, thanks to the stigma associated with these pests.

How can you keep bed bugs away?

  • Leave your bags and laundry at the door. Bed bugs most commonly find their way into your home by stowing away in your luggage and laundry. After returning from a trip, leave your bags at the door until you have checked them for bugs, and keep them well away from your bed until you have done so.
  • Check your sheets. Routinely inspect the lining of your pillow, mattress, and sheets for bed bugs and their droppings (which look like dark brown or black specks). If you see any sign of the bugs, wash all your bedding on medium-high heat to kill them off.

Conclusion

Bloodsucker insects can put a serious downer on your summer, especially if you were hoping to enjoy some time in the great outdoors. Ticks, mosquitoes and bed bugs are all bugs that feed on blood, and all three have bites that can lead to significant health problems.

Make sure you protect yourself from the bites of bloodsucking bugs this summer by covering up, using an effective insect repellent spray and regularly checking your body, clothes, and bedding for bugs.

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