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UK insects and bugs that bite or sting

The humble wasp (and closely related hornet) can give a nasty sting if it feels threatened, leading to itching and swelling. And wasp stings arent always harmless. Stings from wasps cause the most allergic reactions in the U . !ou wont have an allergic reaction after your first sting by a wasp, but you can develop a serious allergic reaction (also "nown as an anaphylactic reaction) after one or more stings have #sensitised# your system. Prevent wasp stings$ %ont try to swat wasps away. !oull &ust ma"e them cross and more li"ely to sting you. 'nstead, calmly and slowly move out of their way. (i"e other stinging insects, wasps love bright colours so wear white or neutral clothes to deter them. (oo" out for wasps) nests in your home or garden and have them removed immediately by your local council or a pest control e*pert when you find them. See a doctor if: you develop symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.


A bee sting feels similar to that of a wasp. The difference is that the bee leaves its sting inside you and its important to remove it to stop infection setting in. +ead how to remove a bee sting. ,ee stings are painful, but unless you have an allergy to bees, theyre unli"ely to cause serious damage. 'f you)re allergic to wasp stings, dont assume youll also be allergic to bee venom. ,ee and wasp venoms are different and people who are allergic to wasp venom are rarely allergic to bee venom.

Prevent bee stings$ Stay still and calm while a bee bu--es around you. ,ees love sweet drin"s and the last thing you want to do is swallow one, so be sure to loo" before you sip your drin" at picnics and barbecues. See a doctor if: you develop symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.


Strictly spea"ing, these small"e creatures aren)t insects, but tic"s are increasingly becoming an unpleasant feature of strolls through U woods, moors or thic" grass. /nce theyve latched onto you, tic"s cling to your s"in and suc" your blood. The bite doesnt really hurt, but certain types of tic" can transmit a condition called (yme disease. Therefore, remove a tic" as soon as you spot one on your s"in. Prevent tick bites$ 0ear long sleeves and trousers when you)re wal"ing in forested, overgrown areas and use a tic" repellent. See a doctor if: you get a circular rash spreading out from where you were bitten or you develop the symptoms of (yme disease. Send any tic"s you collect to the 1ealth 2rotection Agency and they)ll identify them for you. 3ind out more about the 12A)s Tic" +ecording Scheme.


Mosquitoes are a nuisance. Their bites cause intense itching and swelling and spoil many a picnic and camping trip. But while they transmit deadly diseases in other parts of the world, they dont cause major harm in the UK. Prevent mosquito bites$ Smells and bright colours attract insects. Avoid using scented hand or body creams and strong perfumes and spar"ly, colourful &ewellery if youre going to spend time outside. 'nsect repellents are also effective. %on)t forget to cover up and use repellent at night if you)re camping. +ead more about how to treat mos4uito bites.

Flower bugs

lower bug may sound innocuous, pretty e!en, but don"t be fooled. #roperly $nown as %nthocoris nemorum, these common predatory insects, which feed on aphids and mites, can ta$e an aggressi!e bite out of human s$in too. The wounds are !ery itchy and often slow to heal. !ou can identify the common flower bug by its tiny oval body, reflective wings and orange.brown legs. (oo" out for them on flowering plants in meadows, par"s and gardens. Prevent flower bug bites$ The common flower bug bite isn)t serious, but it)s very annoying. !ou could use insect repellent when gardening or, better still, cover your bare s"in and wear gloves to stop them nipping. 3lower bugs are great for the garden so don)t be tempted to use a general insecticide to get rid of them.


Midges are the scourge of trips to the &cottish 'ighlands and a common feature throughout the rest of the UK, especially on damp and cloudy summer days. Midge bites dont transmit illness but theyre painful, itch intensely and can swell up alarmingly. Prevent midge bites$ 5idges tend to attac" in swarms, especially in hot weather, so use an insect repellent and cover up at dawn and dus". 2rotective gear, such as mesh covers for your face, can be very effective too.


The harlequin ladybird is a recent in!ader to our shores, but in the space of just a few years has colonised much of the UK. Theyre bigger, rounder and more aggressi!e than nati!e ladybirds such as the two spot and se!en spot. %ll ladybirds can nip, but harlequins seem to bite more than others. ow to spot it$ The harle4uin ladybird can be red or orange with multiple spots. (oo" out for a white spot on its head 6 native red ladybirds never have white patches. Prevent ladybird bites$ 0ear gloves when gardening, but try not to intentionally "ill harle4uin ladybirds. 'ts hard to selectively get rid of them without hurting native ladybirds, and all ladybirds are good for the garden.


Bedbugs are a growing problem in the UK. They dont carry disease, but their bites cause itchy red bumps. &ome people ha!e a serious s$in reaction with blisters that can become infected. !"at to do$ 'f you thin" your home is infested with bedbugs (tiny blac" spots on your mattress and bed are a giveaway), get a pest control e*pert to treat it straight away. %ont be embarrassed 6 bedbugs are not a sign of a dirty home. +ead more about bedbugs.


% large, hairy fly whose bite can be e(tremely painful, the horsefly tends to bite on warm, sunny days, especially the head and upper body. Prevent "orsefly bites$ The horsefly doesnt spread disease, but as its bite cuts the s"in rather than piercing it, horse fly bites are very painful, ta"e longer to heal than other insect bites and can easily become infected, so cover up and use insect repellent. +ead what to do if you have an infected insect bite.


/ur most common ant, the blac" garden variety, doesnt sting, but the U has red, wood and flying ants that do, especially in warm weather or when threatened. !oull feel a nip, but its all pretty harmless as ants have less to*in in their sting than wasps or bees. The only evidence youve been stung will probably be a pale pin" mar". Prevent ant bites$ Use over.the.counter ant repellent.


)ou may be surprised to $now that a number of spiders in the UK are capable of gi!ing a nasty nip * usually after rough handling or if they become trapped in your clothes. )ou can tell its a spider bite because it lea!es little puncture mar$s. %ccording to the +atural 'istory Museum, false widow spiders, so,called because of their

similarity to the more poisonous blac$ widow spider, are the main culprits and typically gi!e bites that cause pain, redness and swelling. Prevent spider bites$ %ont disturb spiders if you can help it 6 they tend to bite you only when they feel threatened. 5anage your symptoms at home and ma"e sure your bite or sting doesnt get infected by using this bites and stings symptom chec"er. +ead more about insect bites and insect stings.


The caterpillars of an undistinctive brown moth, called the oa" processionary moth, are a real pest. A recent immigrant to the U , the caterpillars are found feeding on oa" trees in south and west (ondon, 7roydon, ,romley and parts of ,er"shire. They move about the trees in late spring and summer in characteristic processions ... hence their name8 (oo" out, too, for their white sil"en webbing nests and the white trails they leave on branches and trun"s. As well as devastating oa" trees, whose branches they can strip bare, the caterpillars have thousands of tiny hairs that contain a to*in that can trigger itchy s"in rashes, sore throats, breathing difficulties and eye problems on contact. Prevent oak processionary mot" problems$ %ont touch or approach the caterpillars or nests. And don)t attempt to move the nests yourself 6 call a pest control e*pert. +eport any sightings to your local council or the 3orestry 7ommission. See a doctor if: you develop symptoms of a serious allergic reaction.
2age last reviewed$ 99:;<:=;9= >e*t review due$ 99:;<:=;9?