I get many questions about gnat bites. For example, whether the bites are from gnats or mosquitoes, spiders, or ticks? What do real gnat bites look like? What diseases can they cause?
Here are the basics to help you recognize gnat bites. This article is part of the series of blog posts I have written on biting gnats to uncover the mystery of gnat bites and to discuss effective treatment options.
Its important to understand what gnat bites look like before you start exploring medications to treat them.
Can Gnats bite?
Scientifically, not all gnats bite. There are list of six species that can travel up to 10 miles to get a meal of blood. These gnats bite humans as well as livestock animals. Among the biting species, Buffalo gnats are the most common.
Why read this?
It is easy to mistaken flying ants, mosquitoes and other nasty insects flying in and around your house for gnats. The bites of these insects should be treated differently than ones from gnats. Many could mistake Flying Ants in House, mosquitoes, and other nasty insects as gnats. These are not gnats and are treated differently. However, a small gnat bite or noseeum bite can cause greater damage than the insect’s small size would suggest.
How do gnats bite?
Gnat bites are similar to mosquitoes. Nevertheless, gnats don’t break the skin like a mosquitoes. Because gnats have four cutters inside their mouth, they cut the skin like a surgeon. A gnat sucks blood by injecting anti-clotting agents into the blood to prevent the wound from forming a blood clot. As a result, the insect can freely suck out blood in large quantities. If fact, gnat bites are more painful than mosquito bites and the bitten victims typically loose more blood.
Where do gnats bite?
Bites most frequently occur on any area of uncovered skin such as the head, neck, forearms, hands, face, legs and feet. It is also possible to get bitten in an area where the clothing is stuck tightly to the skin, as a result of sweat.
You should know that ANY area on your body is vulnerable to gnat bites, including even eyes and ears. In particular, the gnat bites to eye are very dangerous and must be shown to an ophthalmologist.
Later we will discuss the best treatments and effective home remedies to get rid of itching and quickly heal the inflammation from gnat bites.
Common Symptoms of gnat bites
Common Symptoms of Gnat Bites
Common Symptoms of a Gnat Bite
The most common symptoms include: itchiness and irritation of the area of the bite. These symptoms can be mild to severe depending on the location of the bite and how long the gnat was biting/sucking blood. Constant scratching can lead to excessive sensitivity and infection.
Gnat bites may be painless. However, the bites that are painful tend to cause swelling. Sometimes there is also a blood mark or a bloody smudge where a gnat has bitten, similar to a “vampire” bite. Unless the pain and swelling go away after a few days you must see your doctor. If an infection occurs the swelling will increase and may contain puss, which tends to explode and looks like white or yellow mucous secretions. It also possible to have an allergic reaction to a gnat bite, in which case you should also see a doctor.
The images bellow help you identify exactly what a gnat bite looks like:
Here is a list of various diseases that can be potentially transmitted by biting gnats:
These are also known as yellow flies, or stouts in Atlantic Canada. Deer fly transmits a disease called Tularemia or “rabbit fever”.
These are also known as breeze flies, cleggs, klegs, or clags, deer flies, gadflies, or zimbs, in Canada, bull dog flies. The life cycle may take two years to complete. Larvae of both deer and horse flies usually live in water or moist locations where they prey on other insects. Then they migrate to dry soil to transform to adult form that feed on the blood of livestock and other animals.
Also known as barn fly, biting house fly, dog fly, or power mower fly.
Stable flies are similar to house flies except for the pointed tube behind their necks, which the insect uses to such blood. Cattle largely infested with stable flies have been reported to become anemic and lower milk production. It can also bite humans in the outdoors. Some Stable fly might be a vector of Trypanosoma evansi (the agent of Surra), trypanosoma brucei, brucellosis, Equine infectious anemia, African horse sickness (AHS), and fowlpox. S. calcitrans is also reported to be a vector of Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax.
Also known as Buffalo gnat, turkey gnat, or white socks.
Buffalo gnats do not cause diseases but can be a carrier of nematode worms and bacteria. Their bites may cause life-threatening allergies to humans and livestock in the United States.
They can also act as larval host of parasitic nematode Onchocerca volvulus, which causes onchocerciasis, or “river blindness”.
Biting midges includes Ceratopogonidae, or biting midges. In the United States and Canada they are known as no-see-ums, midgies, sand flies, punkies, and others. Biting midges bites can be serious, especially if the insect lives along the shores of oceans, lakes, ponds and rivers, and will bite during the day or at night. They may be vectors of disease-causing viruses, protozoa, or filarial worms.
The bite of midges in the genus Culicoides causes an allergic response in equines known as sweet itch. In humans, their bites can cause intensely itchy, red welts that can persist for more than a week. The discomfort arises from a localized allergic reaction to the proteins in the insect’s saliva, which can be somewhat alleviated by topical antihistamines.
In many areas of the world they are known as sand gnat, sand flea, no-see-um (no-see-em, noseeum), granny nipper, chitra, punkie, or punky. In many parts of the world, including southern Texas in the United States, certain sand fly species (Lutzomyia) are transmitting cutaneous leishmaniasis disease to humans. Moreover, Sand flies can carry Chandipura virus, which is related to the very deadly rabies.