We know that when it comes to biting pests you need answers and solutions as soon as possible. That is why we have created this frequently asked questions list. Our hope is that you can get the information you need to make informed decisions and better understand the possible reasons you are experiencing biting symptoms or skin irritations. Additional resources are located at the bottom of this page.
If you have a question about biting pests that is not on the list below please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reach out to you.
What are the major biting pests?
The major biting pests are fleas, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and rodent and bird mites. These are ectoparasites, which are parasites that live on the outside of a host animal’s body.
Where are biting pests located?
Fleas – Cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis, are the most common ectoparasite on domestic cats and dogs. Unlike most fleas, adult cat fleas remain on the host where feeding, mating, and egg laying occur. Cat flea eggs are smooth and readily fall from the pet and land on surfaces such as bedding and carpeting in the animal’s environment.
Bed Bugs – Both nymphs and adults generally feed at night and hide in dark cracks and crevices during the day, although hungry bugs may feed any time hosts are nearby and sedentary. Common hiding places are typically located within 6 or fewer feet from areas where humans sleep or rest and include: along mattress seams and tufts; beneath covers; in wood joints of box springs; in cracks and joints of bed frames; behind baseboards and headboards; under loose wallpaper; behind picture frames; and inside furniture, appliances, electronics and upholstery. Bed bugs are more likely to harbor in or on materials made of wood, paper, or fabric as compared to those made of metal or plastic.
Mosquitoes – Adult mosquitoes rest in tall grass, weeds, and brush near inhabited locations such as homes and other buildings. Mosquito larvae, or wigglers, occur in stagnant or nearly still water in surface pools, tree holes, or man-made containers such as abandoned tires.
Mites – Tropical rat mites live in and around the rodent nests and prefer to be near heat sources like hot water pipes or stoves. Bird mites are found in the nests of the host bird.
Why are they biting me?
Fleas bite humans in the absence of their host animal.
Bed bugs are an ectoparasite of humans and must feed in order to survive and reproduce.
Female mosquitoes of nearly all species require blood from vertebrate animals such as people, pets, and livestock in order to reproduce.
Rodent and bird mites bite humans because they need a new food source. Their host animal has died, left their nest or their nest became too crowded.
How would mites be in my house if there are no rodents or birds inside?
Rodent and bird mites can be found in a home where there was previous rodent or bird activity. The nest may have been left behind and now the mites are looking for a new food source. Nesting material of the host animal must be removed to assist in getting rid of the mite population.
I don’t have pets, why do I have fleas in and/or around my home?
- The previous owner or renter of the property had pets and they left flea larvae.
- There could be rats, mice, or wildlife like raccoons on the property.
- A neighbor’s cat or dog that has fleas could be frequenting your property.
What are other causes of skin irritation and bite like symptoms?
- When two or more individuals experience irritation in the absence of pests, the cause is likely to be environmental conditions or airborne contaminants. The irritant(s) may be either physical or chemical in nature. The most common physical irritants are particulate matter or tiny fragments of paper, fabric, or insulation. Certain airborne contaminants can also produce rashes and skin irritation similar to insect bites (1).
- Another cause of skin irritation in humans are carpet beetles. Though carpet beetles do not bite, hairs on the larvae are irritating to some people. When skin is pressed against the larvae bite-like lesions may form. Thorough vacuuming and elimination of food sources is usually sufficient to keep carpet beetle numbers low (2).
How can Pestec help with my biting pest problem?
Pestec can help by ruling out pests as a cause to your symptoms and providing a biting pest inspection.
What is the difference between a biting pest inspection and a bed bug inspection?
- A biting pest inspection is an inspection that looks for the major biting pests and signs of their presence: fleas, mosquitoes, bed bugs, and nesting rodents or birds. The inspection for bed bugs will be limited to just the bed area. This inspection is recommended to customers who have noticed rodent, bird, or wildlife activity on their property.
- A bed bug inspection is an inspection that is more in depth and will be performed by technicians who are specifically trained in bed bug abatement. This focus is only on bed bugs and signs of their presence. This inspection is recommend to customers who have seen bed bugs and/or dark spots or blood staining on the sheets or bed area.
Is it okay to be home during the inspection?
Yes, in fact we prefer it if you are home so that our technicians can speak with you about the types and locations of the bites you’re receiving.
Will you be checking the bites on my body?
No, you must consult with a physician to diagnose any skin irritations that may be related to biting pests.
What can I do while I wait for my inspection?
- Here are some suggestions for dealing with an undiagnosed itching or “biting” problem:
- Vacuum and dust the premises thoroughly. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters are most effective in preventing re-circulation of allergens during cleaning.
- Cluttered/crowded conditions should be eliminated as much as possible (piles of clothing, boxes filled with personal items, crowded closets etc.). The more crowded and/or cluttered the more difficult to achieve control.
- Change or clean air filters in air handling units monthly. Consider replacing standard fiberglass filters with electrostatic-type filters.
- Eliminate any sources of potential solvent exposure in the home. Experiment with discontinuing use of any “new” laundry, dishwashing soap, air fresheners, cosmetics, perfumes or other personal care products.
- Reduce mold and mildew problems by installing a vapor barrier and vents in crawl spaces, or installing a dehumidifier and/or air conditioning in damp rooms.
- Fix plumbing leaks or condensation problems.
- Consult with your doctor about possible allergies or other undiagnosed medical conditions that might cause your symptoms.
- Consult with your doctor about possible interactions between or adverse reactions to medications you may be taking.
- Have pets checked by a veterinarian for possible flea, mite or scabies infestations.
- Consult with a Board Certified Entomologist concerning identification of suspected insect or mite infestations.
- Bed linens should be laundered in hot water cycle with detergent and dried on high heat for 40 minutes or until dry.
- If you find a bug catch it with clear sticky tape and save for the technician to take back to our office for identification.
- Note: These recommendations may or may not help with the symptom of bites from an unknown source.
Why can't I just set off a bug bomb?
Though it may seem like a fast and easy solution to your biting pest issue bug bombs are not only an ineffective way to control pests, but it can also have a negative impact on your health. Foggers only treat exposed surfaces where the pesticide lands. If the pest is hiding under furniture or in cracks, it can avoid contact with the pesticide. Foggers can trigger asthma attacks or other severe respiratory reactions, requiring emergency care.
Why do you dust the outlets to treat for mites?
We treat electrical outlets with an insecticidal dust because mites tend to accumulate in walls near a heat source.
I have pets. Will the dust application affect my pets at all?
Pets will not come into contact with the insecticidal dust we use to treat for biting pests since it will be applied in cracks and crevices and voids that they will not be able to access.
Do you offer any outdoor application for a biting pest?
The biting pest we typically provide exterior treatments for are fleas. Fleas harbor in shady areas on the outside of the home. These areas would be the focus of the treatment.
Why does it take so long to gain control over fleas/mites?
- It can take three to five weeks to gain control over fleas because flea pupa and pre-emerged adults are difficult to control. The areas they hide in oftentimes protect them from the application. After the initial knockdown treatment of adult fleas, flea pupa continue to develop and adults continue to emerge from their cocoons. A few hours after they come into contact with the insecticide they will die.
- Mites are difficult to control because they are microscopic and can hide in tiny cracks and crevices where pesticides aren’t able to reach. They are also able to live 30-60 days without their host. Once nesting materials have been removed and the nesting areas and runways have been treated control should be gained in a few weeks.
What if you don’t find anything during the inspection?
There are many instances when the technician will not be able to identify rodent or bird activity or another known biting pest. Therefore, we cannot treat for an unknown pest. We recommend that you follow up with a physician or dermatological specialist to help diagnose if the dermatitis could be caused by another source other than pests.
Why don’t you offer a guarantee on your biting pest services?
Pestec does not offer a guarantee that we will identify and/or get rid of biting pests due to the difficult nature of this work. However, we do provide a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management approach for biting pests and will continue to work with you to help solve your pest problem.
- MYSTERY BITES: Insect and Non-Insect Causes – Entomology at the University of Kentucky
- Insects in the City: Biting Mites – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
- Mites Affecting Humans – Illinois Department of Public Health
- Fleas – UC IPM Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
- Bed Bugs – UC IPM Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
- Mosquitoes – UC IPM Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
- Foggers – Washington State Department of Health
- “Handbook of Pest Control”, Mallis 10th Edition
- Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations 7th Edition