Nuisance vs. Nightmare: Which Bugs Will Actually Hurt You?

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

When you see insects or arachnids scurrying around your home, you may not care whether or not they actually pose a threat to your family and pets. You probably just want them out. However, understanding what these pests are and how they affect you can help you understand the severity of the infestation and what pest control steps to take.

Some bugs spread venom or disease when they bite you, while others eat harmful bugs. Some chew your clothes and infest your food, while others keep to themselves. Before you call pest control or try to deal with the bugs yourself, take some time to figure out exactly what you’re dealing with. Some bugs you can kill easily, some you might want to leave alone, and some you should entrust to the professionals.

Nightmare: Mosquitoes

It’s safe to say that no one likes mosquitoes. These tiny flying insects live all over the world, and the females rely on animal blood to nourish their eggs. If mosquitoes are attracted to your specific scent, you can find yourself covered in itchy bites. The itchiness is caused by a substance in the saliva that prevents your blood from clotting.

If mosquitoes only caused itchy red rashes, they might be considered merely annoying, not dangerous. However, mosquitoes act as carriers for a variety of serious illnesses, including malaria, West Nile virus, and Zika. Although treatments for these diseases exist, they can still severely harm the infected person and have lasting consequences.

Mosquitoes are easy to kill one at a time, but standing water on your property can lead to a large infestation, as that’s where mothers lay their eggs in the summer. Call pest control if you’re worried about a large population.

Nuisance: Crane Flies

Because crane flies look similar to mosquitoes, many people think the two pose the same threats. Crane flies are larger, with long gangly legs, and actually feed on mosquitoes. Rather than spreading disease, crane flies prevent further spread by eating the carriers.

Crane flies are handy to have around to keep the mosquito population under control, but having giant bugs flying around your home can be irritating. They won’t hurt you, but you might want to encourage them to stay outside.

Nightmare: Brown Recluse

The good news is that brown recluse spiders aren’t aggressive. They won’t actively try to attack you. The bad news is that if you go in for the kill, they will likely bite in self-defense. While their venom probably won’t kill you, it can cause your flesh to rot if left untreated.

Brown recluse spiders are among the most dangerous pests in Illinois because they are common in homes. They love warm, dark spaces, such as your closet, basement, or attic. If you see a brown recluse, it’s better to call pest control right away, rather than try to deal with the spider on your own.

Nuisance: Wolf Spider

At first glance, the wolf spider would appear to be much more of a threat than the brown recluse. They’re almost twice the size of brown recluse spiders and have prominent eyes and “feelers,” or extra appendages by the front of their head. They tend to hunt their prey rather than waiting in webs, making it more likely that you will run across one out in the open.

Despite their intimidating appearance, wolf spiders aren’t as dangerous as brown recluses or black widows. They don’t bite often, and when they do, the venom isn’t strong enough to have lasting consequences (although it’s smart to still seek treatment in case you’re allergic.) You can approach and deal with wolf spiders individually, as they aren’t as drawn to human dwellings as brown recluses.

Nightmare: Assassin Bug

This class of bugs gets their name from the way they attack and stab their prey using their sharp nose. Although they help out in the garden by killing and eating other harmful pests, you don’t want their assassination skills used against you.

Humans who come in contact with assassin bugs receive extremely painful bites. While some species, like the wheel bug, won’t attack unless provoked, the species known as the “kissing bug” actively seeks out human prey. They act as parasites, biting humans around the mouth and drinking blood.

You can identify kissing bugs from their flat, black body, flanked on either side by red spots. They also have long, cone-shaped noses. Wheel bugs are brown, with a long proboscis on their face, and long, angular legs. Their young are black, with a bright red abdomen that curves upward. If you see either species, don’t try to get too close. Call pest control immediately.

Nuisance: Boxelder Bug

Like the assassin bug, this insect is a “true bug.” It has a flat black back, interspersed with red lines, so at first glance it can be mistaken for the kissing bug. However, they don’t pose any real threat to your garden, your home, or your family. They don’t bite, damage plants, or even come inside very often.

Like most “nuisance” bugs, however, seeing the small black insects crawling around your home can be irritating. If you’ve started seeing boxelder bugs with increased frequency, you may have an infestation.

For help dealing with any pests, dangerous or otherwise, contact Chem-Wise. We can help you identify the pest and discuss how to handle it in a way that will be safe for you and your family.