White Paper – Bug Bites

Spiders and Ticks and Mosquitoes – Oh, My!

Despite Mother Nature’s recent attitude, it is
summer time! Summer is the perfect time to enjoy
a day out in the sun, swimming in the pool or
fishing at the lake. However, we humans aren’t
the only beings enjoying the great summer
weather! Along with these warmer temperatures
come various types of insects that enjoy “bugging”
us. I will briefly go over these annoying animals
and inform you what they do, and why.

Beginning with spiders; these creepy crawlers
are a fear to many – and for good reason! Nearly
all spiders are poisonous (excluding 2 species).
However, most of these spiders are unable to
penetrate human’s skin. Three main species can
break through the skin and cause us harm. These
spiders are the Hobo Spider, Black Widow, and
Brown Recluse. Hobo spiders are the least
venomous of the three and tend to stay in their
funnel-shaped sheeting waiting for prey.
Unfortunately, their traps are sometimes disturbed
which causes them to become aggressive and bite
anything near them. Even though these bites aren’t
fatal, they can cause a quite painful and slowhealing
wound. Black Widow spiders are easily
identified as they have a bright red hourglass
shape on their abdomens. These spider bites can
be fatal and cause joint stiffness and severe pain.
Brown Recluse’s are tricky to spot and differentiate
from other spiders. This makes them even more
dangerous. Their bites are similar to the black
widow, except the ulcerated wound at the site of
the bite can spread. If you suspect you’ve been
bitten by one of these spiders, seek immediate
medical attention!

Next are ticks. These annoying bugs feed on both
human and animal blood. When they come into
contact with skin, they place their fangs deep into
the skin so that they can hold on to the host firmly.
It’s important to remove ticks within 36 hours to
prevent Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Spiders and Ticks and Mosquitoes – Oh, My! (Cont.)

A thorough search should reveal
any hiding ticks. However, some may feed and
drop off before you can get to them. This results
in a rash that looks similar to a bull’s-eye. To
remove ticks still feeding, use tweezers to grasp
near the tick’s head and pull gently until the
entire insect is removed. Some other methods
exist but don’t work as well and may even cause
more damage, such as: heating, taping, and
painting over the tick.

Lastly are mosquitoes. These pesky creatures are
easily found in the warm and humid climates and
come out in the morning and at dusk. When they
land on a host, they inject their saliva to prevent
blood from clotting around the site of the bite.
They then continue to feed (unless you kill them!)
and fly off to find their next unfortunate victim.
If that’s not enough reason to dislike these insects,
here’s another! Mosquitoes transmit more diseases
to humans than any other biting insect. A few of
these include: Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Nile
Virus, and many more!

Realistically, it’s going to be difficult to avoid
insect bites entirely throughout summer.
Repellents such as DEET can be great to keep bugs
away, but don’t always do a good enough job.
To ensure that you are properly taken care of, be
sure to see a health care professional to assist you
in picking out repellents and proper treatments.
Have an awesome summer!

Mitchell Shelton
University of Kansas School of Pharmacy