Blood sucking insects & bugs

Written by john lindell
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Blood sucking insects & bugs
(John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Many species of insects dine on human blood, armed with biting mouth parts, they're able to transmit serious diseases through their activities. These bloodsucking bugs are typically small and often go undetected as they go about their feeding on humans and animals. While most people will think of insects such as mosquitoes when the subject of bugs that drink blood arises, many other types fall into this category.

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Bed Bugs

Bed bugs lack wings and according to the Harvard School of Public Health website, most are about a quarter inch long as adults. These insects subsist on blood from mammals and are flat and oval. Bed bugs may be almost white after moulting from their skin or brownish to orange in colour. Bed bugs hide in the slimmest of crevices and cracks, coming forth at night to take advantage of a sleeping host, including people. The bed bug will insert a minute bit of its own saliva into a bite, which in time can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. Bed bugs will piece the skin with their mouth and drink a few drops of blood before moving a short distance and repeating this procedure. Bed bugs have the ability to go as long as 15 months without eating and a female bed bug will lay as many as 300 eggs during her lifetime. Luckily, the bed bug does not transmit any diseases.

Deer Fly

Only the female deer fly is a bloodsucking insect, but this is of little comfort to those that receive one of this bug’s painful bites. The deer fly is a worldwide species, with only Iceland, Hawaii and Greenland apparently spared their presence. The male deer fly drinks the juices of plants, but the female only eats the blood of animals, including humans. The deer fly typically bites livestock on their necks, legs or abdomen and as many as 100 deer flies at once will bite a large animal like a horse or cow. Most active during the months of June and July in North America, according to the “National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mammals,” a deer fly will circle you before landing. Once on you, the fly wastes no time in biting. Most bites will occur just after sunrise and about two hours before sunset. The adult deer fly lives from between 30 and 60 days.

Body Louse

Typhus and relapsing fever are two of the diseases that body lice may transmit to humans. The body louse will take refuge in clothing and move to a person’s skin when it is time to feed on their blood. The body louse is just an eighth of an inch in length and is more common on people with poor hygiene than on those that bathe regularly and wear clean clothes. The body louse is a close relative to the head louse, but rather than lay its eggs in the hair as its cousins do, the body louse lays eggs on clothing. The eggs require about eight days to hatch. The body louse can live without feeding for a week and will drink blood until it is full or something disturbs it. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website says that body lice more than likely evolved from the head lice once people started to wear clothing.

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