Garden Bugs That Bite

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Gardens are full of insects, particularly during the warmer months of the year when bugs thrive. While most are harmless, some of them can not only bite but cause painful welts that may require minor medical attention. Bug bites can be prevented by wearing long sleeves and trousers, hats, spray-on repellents or by lighting citronella candles. Always have a tube of antibacterial cream on hand whenever you're working in the garden in case you have an encounter with any of these biting pests.


Midges are female mosquitoes. Mosquitoes typically live off plant nectar, but a female mosquito will need to consume a blood meal after she is impregnated to provide nutrients to her larvae. They use long, piercing tubes to first inject a numbing agent so the host does not feel the bite and then uses another tube to suck out sufficient blood. The bites typically result in an itchy bump that can be treated with painkilling creams or antihistamines.

Black Flies

Black flies are swarming insects that can produce attacks so ferocious that they have been known to kill large animals such as ostriches. Black fly attacks usually occur around the head and neckline. The bites are surprisingly painful for the insects' small size and may continue to itch or burn for several days. The flies are diurnal and attack during the day. Their bites can be soothed with cold creams or antihistamines.


Ticks are terrestrial bugs that sit and wait at the end of leaves or branches for an unsuspecting host to brush by. They will attach to a human or animal host using specialised mouth parts that also numb the area and engorge themselves with blood. Ticks will grow several times their original size once they engorge. Ticks are responsible for spreading various diseases, most notably Lyme disease. Ticks should be removed with tweezers so that the head is also removed from the flesh and then the wound should be washed with alcohol or other antibacterial.


Mites are tiny insects that look similar to ticks and come in numerous varieties. They are typically only a few millimetres long and are found in large groups. Some mites actually live under human skin and can cause very painful itching. Some mites, such as red spider mites, eat plants but do not harm humans. Mite infestation should be treated by a physician immediately. Remove any external mites you can by washing with soap and water.

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