Pests That Bite

October 3, 2019

October is here - and while that’s reason for celebration (fall is fully upon us!), it also means that new pests will soon be gearing up for their peak seasons. Some of these pests are especially irritating, because they not are not only a nuisance to have in the home, but they can also bite. 

More specifically, the pre-winter months are a high time for spiders and second season for fleas;  and it’s also an active time for ticks and mosquitoes. These are definitely not the kind of pests that you want to have lurking around your home. At this time of the year you need to know how to correctly identify different types of bites so that you can assess not just the type, but also the severity of the sort of infestation that you may be dealing with. 

Fleas and Flea Bites 

When you think of fleas and flea bites you’re probably thinking about your cat or dog, but the rumors are true: fleas can indeed also bite humans. Usually flea bites will come in the form of concentrated, red clusters on the arms and legs, but if you are allergic to fleas they can also cause a more severe allergic reaction: rash, hives, intense itchiness, or swelling. 

Thankfully- barring an allergy- flea bites on humans are not too severe; they usually last 24 to 48 hours, and sometimes come with minimal irritation. If you are experiencing an itchy sensation do not scratch them excessively - otherwise you risk infection. 


Fleas can bite both humans and pets that carry diseases transmissible to people and animals alike. These dual-threat diseases include: 

Murine Typhus- This bacterial disease is found in flea feces, and can be transmitted to humans and animals alike. Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea and achiness. If gone untreated for a few days, it can result in the development of a large and serious rash. While it is not typically fatal, there have been instances where, left untreated, it has become fatal; if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms above, contact your doctor, and they can prescribe you an antibiotic. 

Tapeworm- Tapeworm from a flea bite is extremely unusual in adults, but there have been cases of flea-to-human tapeworm transmission in children, who can get it the same way a cat or dog does: by accidentally swallowing a flea. Luckily, it is easy to treat for children and pets, requiring only a medication treatment. 
Cat Scratch Disease- While this cannot be directly transmitted to humans from fleas, the disease can be transmitted to people- as the name implies- by cats. Cat Scratch Disease is transmitted when a cat scratches someone hard enough to break the skin, which allows bacteria to infect an individual. If you fear you may have been infected, it will usually pass on its own, but antibiotics are also available if needed. 

Cat Scratch Disease- While this cannot be directly transmitted to humans from fleas, the disease can be transmitted to people- as the name implies- by cats. Cat Scratch Disease is transmitted when a cat scratches someone hard enough to break the skin, which allows bacteria to infect an individual. If you fear you may have been infected, it will usually pass on its own, but antibiotics are also available if needed. 

Spiders and Spider Bites 

Non-Poisonous Bites by and large, the types of spiders found in North Carolina are not poisonous; still even non-poisonous spider bites can result in some irritating symptoms. These include: 

  • Redness in skin around the bite
  • Rash
  • Itchiness
  • Mild Swelling
  • Moderate Pain 

Often times, you won’t even recognize symptoms of a spider bite until hours after the bite; luckily these symptoms can be effectively treated by over-the-counter pain relief medicine. While a bite from a wolf spider or giant house spider may illicit initial concern because these spiders are particularly intimidating looking, in truth these bites are no more poisonous or severe to humans than those by smaller, less menacing looking spiders like a cellar spiders. 

Still, in rare cases, even what is typically a mild spider bite can turn into something more serious if the bitten individual happens to have an allergic reaction to a particular spider or its venom. An allergic reaction to a spider bite will usually result in more worrisome symptoms, like fever, severe cramping, significant pain, and sweating. If you or someone you know is reacting to a non-venomous bite in some of these unusual ways, contact emergency services immediately. 

Poisonous Bites 

While exceedingly rare, there are two specific types of spiders found in North Carolina that can deploy poisonous venom into people: Brown Recluse Spiders and the infamous Black Widow. 

Poisonous bites from a Brown Recluse spider may initially be painless, much like a non-poisonous bite, and symptoms can take even longer to appear - sometimes as long as 8 hours after the initial bite. Eventually a red or purple colored ring (sometimes described as looking like a bullseye or target) will appear around the bite site. 

After this, the bite can then begin to blister significantly and kill surrounding tissue as the poison spreads. Fever, chills and headache then follow, and more severe symptoms such as kidney failure and jaundice- though exceptionally rare- can occur. 

Poisonous bites from a black widow function a bit differently: the skin reacts to the bite immediately, so identification does not take hours. Symptoms of these bites include cramping, a painful burning sensation at the bite location, headache, high blood pressure, nausea and/or vomiting, and numbness. If you believe that you have received a bite from either of these poisonous spiders, it’s important that you contact a healthcare professional immediately to identify symptoms and help you get rid of the bites. 

Mosquitoes and Mosquito Bites 

You’ve almost definitely experiences a mosquito bite before, and usually the only symptoms are itchy, red or white bumps that go away after a few days. However, there is a more serious allergic reaction to mosquito bites- most common in children- known as skeeter syndrome. Reactions to mosquito bites for those with skeeter syndrome, as detailed by the Mayo Clinic, include: 

  • Large areas of swelling and redness
  • Hives
  • Mild fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes 

If your child is experiencing symptoms that match skeeter syndrome following a mosquito bite, it’s best to contact a doctor, especially if they are running a high fever. 


Mosquitos are also notorious for their unfortunate ability to transmit diseases to humans, some of which can have serious symptoms. These aren’t limited to the dreaded West Nile Virus - although WNV is the most frequent mosquito-borne disease spread in the United States. Mosquitoes can also spread sometimes fatal diseases like yellow fever, malaria and encephalitis, although these diseases are very infrequent in the US. 

Ticks and Tick Bites 

Ticks are a frequent pest in North Carolina, and will lay in wait for a suitable host at ground level, often hiding in blades of grass. They usually target household pets like cats and dogs, but will also latch onto a human if they can manage. Tick bites are usually asymptomatic, but like many of the pests we’ve covered, an allergic reaction to a tick bite can cause swelling, rash, blisters, difficulty breathing, and a burning sensation at the bite location. 


Ticks carry a number of diseases, but the most frequent is Lyme Disease. Some of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are: 

  • Severe headache
  • Joint pain caused by joint swelling
  • Rash
  • Neck stiffness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Jolts of Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Drooping of one or both sides of the face
  • Brain and spinal cord inflammation 

In other words, Lyme Disease is a very serious condition; if you, a loved one, or a loved pet are displaying any of the symptoms of Lyme Disease, it’s important that you contact a medical professional or veterinarian immediately. 

How Can Bites be Avoided? 

While the more severe results of both flea and spider bites are actually pretty rare- disease spread by flea bites and severe reactions to spider bites are not as common- it still happens. That means it’s especially important to stay on top of an infestation from these two pests - and that’s where A-1 Pest Control comes in. 

Our Home Shield Plus program will protect your home from both fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and spiders, which means treatment for any existing pest problems and exclusionary measures to prevent spiders, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes in the future - both in the home and on your lawn. 

Our tick control process involves spraying grass and other ground-level areas where ticks may be hiding in your yard, hoping to hitch a ride onto you and your pets; mosquito treatment involves spray-targeting areas where mosquitoes hide, like under leaves and in your bushes. These treatments are packaged together to ensure that your pest treatments are both efficient and comprehensive. 

If your pest problem is commercial in nature, our Integrated Pest Management program works with you to identify the issue and build a plan that makes sense for your space and industry. 

Want to learn more about fleas and spiders? Read our blogs, “Fleas and Where to Find Them” and, “What to do If You Have a Spider Infestation”! 

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