Biting Bugs in Lawns

Written by lee carroll
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Biting Bugs in Lawns
Barefoot summers invite insects in your lawn to take a bite. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Mosquitoes are infamous for ruining outdoor fun, but they aren't the only bugs that cause annoying, itchy welts. Although bug bites and stings are merely bothersome for some people, those with severe allergies are at risk for serious reactions. Some insects carry and spread diseases. Wearing insect repellent containing DEET and using broad-range insecticides can help clear the insect population on your property, but keeping your lawn mowed and your property clean makes your yard less inviting.

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Ticks

Ticks have the unusual ability to bite painlessly, leaving them free to pursue their main goal: burrowing under your skin to draw blood. If you can't remove a tick from your skin without effort, it has begun to burrow. Once a tick has filled its belly, it usually drops off on its own, but you shouldn't wait for that to happen. Carefully and slowly remove the tick with tweezers and wash the area with soap and water. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, which is treatable with antibiotics.

Fire Ants

As the name implies, the bite of a fire ant is painful and it leaves a red, itchy bump. Unfortunately, single fire ant bites are uncommon because they live in aggressive colonies and attack in groups. Fire ants are similar in appearance to common ants. Their bodies are red or black, and their sandy-looking nests appear in areas where grass is thinner. Fire ants are difficult to exterminate, even by a professional. The queen reproduces quickly, and poison might never reach her because it has to pass through other ants without killing them first.

Fleas

Fleas are fast, small and difficult to kill. One bite causes an itchy skin reaction, and fleas rarely live alone. Accidental ingestion of a flea can transmit tapeworms, and although quite rare, the bite of an infected flea can spread bubonic plague if the flea has previously bitten an infected rat. Creating an unfriendly environment is the first step to eradication, but all preventive measures should occur at the same time to prevent a new infestation. Mow the grass, clear away debris, have your pets treated and launder clothing and bedding that may contain fleas; larvae and eggs. A professional exterminator is a wise choice because they understand flea habits and know how to kill them.

Chiggers

For such tiny creatures, chiggers cause a maddening itch. They prefer softer flesh, which is why chigger bites are usually around the ankles. They inject enzyme-packed saliva that liquefies human flesh, allowing them to drink it. The skin at the bite reacts by sealing off the area, but the chigger has already found its meal and the damage is done. Unlike folklore that claims chiggers burrow, the itchy bumps are really an allergic reaction to chigger saliva enzymes that can last for days. Although similar to ticks, they are not known to carry any diseases. Insect repellents help, but pharmaceutical-grade sulphur is repulsive to chiggers.

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