I'm appealing to anyone who lives in a warm climate to help me out. Something in my garden has plagued me the whole 7 years I've lived here in spain. It's very small (and my eyesight isn't too good - I wear glasses), it's dark in colour, and it draws blood when it bites. I don't know if it is a flying insect or a crawling one.
When it bites me, the affected area swells horrendously, and I am usually ill for several days afterwards. It takes a week to start subsiding.
I got bitten again today while planting seeds. I thought it was a seed and went to brush it off but it felt all squelchly. It bit the back of my hand and I'm now swollen and red from finger tips to elbow.
No-one else here has been bitten by this insect that I know of, so it could be that it is just something I am allergic to. Or it could be because my neighbours have concrete gardens they only live in mine, where I have grass, trees, bushes, shrubs, vegetables etc.
I have searched for hours and hours on google looking to identify this pest, starting with Spanish sites talking about indigenous biting/blood-suckling insects.
This pest only ever attacks during the day, so it's not a mosquito (who also bring me out, but not as badly).
Anyone care to throw a few names my way to google?
I heard of something called the tsetse fly common in africa and warm climates it can give you the sleeping bug and make you very sick . I dont know what it looks like but if you look it might be that.
Just a hunch Izzy xxx
I think I looked that one up and ruled it out too Calpol, can't remember why, something to do with what they looked like maybe. This insect is just a little bit bigger than a pin prick.
My hand is getting itchy and more painful by the minute. It's now swelling up badly. Can you imagine taking a rubber household cleaning glove and blowing it up? My hand and arm is getting like that. It'll be worse tomorrow.
I always make a point of gardening with insect spray on (DEET). Today I was only planting seeds but without protection
Many thanks for the suggestions - keep 'em coming folks. One day I will know what this crittur is!
Can you get to a doctor? you need to get it looked at hun xx
Everytime I get a bite - about twice a year, everyone says to go to a doctor. But I know all they are going to give me is antihistamines which yes works, but I can walk into a chemist and buy antihistamines over the counter, so why bother a doctor over it?
I suppose but if it gets too bad hun please dont be a hero lol
if anithistimines work, it is most likely an allergic reaction. Bu they can get worse the more you get bit. My mom has simalar reactions to baclk flies....you should really try to catch one to identify it, and find out how to protect yourself from it. I hope you feel better soon.
Yes you are right - they can get worse. This bite has been the worst reaction yet. Been three days and after a steroid injection this morning, I can now (just and no more) get the first finger and thumb to touch. Hey I can type too now! Got antibiotics, antihistamines and steroid creams to take now.
I'm never ever going into my garden without all exposed skin covered in DEET sray in future.
I've had two sleepless nights and possibly tonight will be the same because my hand it itchy as Hell again but maybe that is better than the pain I had last night.
Nobody seemed that interested in what insect caused it today. It's also the first time I've been in a waiting room full of Spanish.(In a Health Centre back home, even when full of waiting patients, it's normally as quiet as a library - but to the Spanish it's a social occasion!). They all wanted to know what caused it but the best anyone could say was the name of the insect was mosquitA (as opposed to mosquitO).
No terribly helpful when you know that mosquita is a lady mosquito, and we already know it is only the female of those 'little flies' (also Spanish for mosquitos) that bite. A sandfly would also come under the name mosquito, and I've learned it's their females that bite too.
I also read somewhere that sandfly is also a 'horsefly' in the US, but a horsefly in Europe is a different insect.
And I think the Australian sandfly is a different insect to the one they talk about in other parts of the world, but don't quote me n that.
Might write a hub about it. Its interesting:)
Izzy, mozzies attack during the day too! They're more active at dusk, that's all. Take Vitamin B1 daily, they hate the smell and will stay away.
- Could it be an ant? There is a red stinging ant in Spain, although I see from this article there's a black one too:
http://www.costablancaworld.com/bugsand … awlies.htm
You shouldn't be gardening without gloves in that part of the world. You have funnel web spiders in that part of the world. If a funnel web bites you, it could kill you.
Thanks for everything there Marissa
It's not a horsefly.
Don't think it's an ant. Do they draw blood? Anyway the ants here are huge and well-visible.
Not a mozzie - get their bites if I go out after dark, and don't get this reaction.
There are funnel web spiders here??? OMG! Thanks for that.
It would be worth checking out the funnel web in more detail - they definitely are in Spain, but I don't know the distribution. Mind you, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable even if someone told me they weren't in my region - after all, spiders don't respect regional borders!
Yes, ants can draw blood. I'm pretty sure the stinging ants aren't native to Spain and are smaller than the usual ants.
However I found this interesting forum:
If you could capture one and photograph it, it might help.
Yes, but that's half my problem. I have not seen them yet. Only that instant when I've either felt a prick or else seen a tiny dark-coloured dot on my skin and I've automatically brushed it off - too late to remember to leave it be a bit longer for a photo session.
this is late i kno but please wear glovesC!C! I kow the soil feels so good but really Izzy DEET?
and if it was bad enough this time to get antibiotics...so your whole arm was red so it sounds likemcellulitis and steroids cause your digits were so swollen you couldnt touch one to another and antihistamines cause they were still afraid you would stop breathing (Anaphlaxis reaction due to being bit so many times in the past)
this mean ole urse has only one thing to say...get off the ground do pot planting, use bagged soil and wear gloves and forget the deet
there another nurse atchetchet moment...youre welcome
Hi I'm in Spain too - my other half gets eaten alive by the 'mosca negra' they swell up horrendously. Its a small black-brown fly and I think they attack olives too.
Natural honey moisturiser (widely available in Catalunya at least and used by all good farmers) works well for me but he has to use harsher stuff from the pharmacy. Taking anti-histermine tablets from spring onwards helps him out a little too.
Every so often the spray planes come over and destroy them but this year they are worse than ever!
Here they are worse in long grass and when gardening - long sleeves are the only answer!
I'd settled on it being a mosca negra (black fly) actually, before I heard about the tiger mosquito.
Nasty little beggers - they can kill an animal.
Could be a noseeum too.
Thanks for bringing this thread up again Maggs, I hadn't realised so many suggestions had come in since.
Timely reminder too. I'll likely get a new bite soon so I'm still staying out of the garden.
I think it is more important that you know how to prevent it ever happening again to yourself by taking the precautions you mentioned. Try and have someone locally like a gardener etc to give you a heads up on what type of insects are in your area. Make a few calls and put the worry behind you.
Absolutely! I'm scared to go outside into the garden at all now, but its better to stay away and not risk getting bitten, than it is to go through all that again! Plus there is the cost of the medication to consider.
Have asked local gardeners, but no-one seems to know. Most folk don't get bitten, or if they do they don't suffer a reaction, especially not a violent reaction like I do.
If this is still going on you maybe should try to catch one. I am sure there are many easy traps you can make to catch all kinds of insects, the biologists who study insects must have worked out easy effective ways to do it, trying googling insect traps maybe ?
I don't know if it could be the same thing, but here in SW Arkansas, and insect comes this time of year we call a Buffalo Gnat. It's supposed to be indigenous to the Sulphur River bottoms, however, I would think it has ancestors somewhere else on the globe. They come in swarms in April and October, usually. They torture livestock, even covering them completely, getting lost and burrowing up under their fur where you can't see them. They bite hard and live on the blood. They actually kill animals and are especially bad for horses. They will bite humans and it stings. I haven't had an allergic reaction to one, but I know these little beasts have killed horses & cows.
Do you live near a river or a great body of water? Is it humid in your region? Also, is there any minerals present in your water such as sulphur?
I hope you find out what it is.
Thanks hun but there is no bodies of water here. The name gnat reminds me of looking them up on the internet to see what they were, I think. I don't think its them. Lack of livestock, lack of water, lack of swarms - the ones that bite me are all but invisible and I never see swarms of them - it's always a single bite.
Hmmmm. I wonder what it could be. Can you capture one in a jar and perhaps take it to a University for examination? If you are reacting with swelling and pain, you need to find out what kill them!
We have buffalo gnats in South Carolina too. Also a little beast called a no-see-um because they are almost too small to be seen - and do they bite!! (We claim the air has teeth.)
Some spider mites are teensy - we have little red ones here and chiggers that burrow under the skin. Sometimes a half cup of chlorine bleach in a bathtub full of warm water will help kill the chiggers, but once they get in deep you need other medication.
One thing - if it's allergies - you need to be aware that allergic reactions can get worse with multiple exposures to the point that you have a "systemic" reaction which can be life threatening. I'd definitely keep a doctor's phone number handy.
Let us know what happens next!
Hi Izzy - that sounds like a tic. They start out small and dark but they have a 'flat pack' body that fills with blood. You may think it is biting you as you brush it off because it anaesthetises as it bites and you only get to feel it WHEN you rip it off, the blood has been drawn from you over a while.
If it is a tic then then one reason you can get such bad reaction is that it can leave bits of itself in your flesh. There is a powder that kills them so that they draw their fangs out of you as they die !
That sounds interesting. But I thought ticks couldn't be brushed off in an instant like I'm describing? a sheep tick embedded myself in my leg years and years ago and I had to use tweezers to get it out.
But this is definitely a blood sucker.
I think there are many different kinds of tic - and they all have the same habit as the sheep tic - but not so big.
Thanks for that - maybe it is a tick and I've brushed it off before it put its sucker in and got a hold, but somehow I don't think it's that.
If it was a tick and you were able to brush it off, it hasn't bitten you yet so it wouldn't cause a reaction.
There's no such thing as a flying spider.
DEET spray won't protect you from a biting insect if you put your hand on it. Insecticide repels insects, but if you put them in a situation where they can't run away from it, they'll bite as a last defence.
I agree I think Tick too! They do bring blood. And you have to watch you can get Lyme disease from them. Do you have any pine trees around? Ticks usually like the pines. Whatever the case go to the doc please!!
Hi Izzy- This insect could it be a horse fly? I was bitten by one when walking in a field. A great big hard lump came up where I was bitten. I felt Yuk for a couple of days. Look up horse fly on Wikkipedia' they are common throughout Europe
It's way too big! I think I have been bitten by one of them before, but not today.
Hi Izzy, sorry your feeling unwell. Maybe your being bitten by spiders. We get bitten when we're clearing the land here in Brittany by small spiders. The bites really hurt and cause localised swelling. We also have a larger spider which comes into the house in the summer and bites us when we are asleep. I particularly re-act to this one and the bitten tissue swells and ulcerates. I also feel unwell for a couple of days. I thought they were mossy bites untill a local told me about the house spiders. It could be that you have an intolerance to this insect in your garden. Try wearing gloves and keep covered up when your gardening. I'm also told that insects are less likely to bite you if you regularly take brewers yeast tablet. Good luck!
Thanks for the advice! Whatever it is it is driving me mental and the swelling is awful. That'll teach me! I KNOW i have to wear protection in the garden. Wish I had remembered. I have DEET spray here too, and it works!
I don't think I've ever been bitten inside my house by anything except the odd mosquito that comes in when HE leaves the window open. I'd have the house sealed off completely if it was up to me! Could be spiders...tiny flying spiders that suck blood?
I've found that running the affected area under really hot water helps. It doesn't do anything for the swelling but it takes the painful itch away for a bit.
During gardening season I am also sensitive to bites. Although I am void of suggestions after the bite - I do have a trick that saves me beforehand. I eat some garlic every few days - not massive ammounts - just some garlic bread or I toss it in marinades for meat, etc. But the bugs don't bite me if I do it I learned the trick from my son when he was scouting as a kid. They told the boys to eat garlic before camp outs and it works!
Good Luck to you Izzy, Holly
I've actually heard before that eating garlic helps, and I've tried it without success.
I'm growing catnip this year (and no, that wasn't the seeds I was planting out today) to see it I can make a DEET-like spray from it, because it is supposed to be a natural insecticide that is better than DEET. Unfortunately the plants are only babies just now and too young to be used for anything.
Just an update to anyone who followed this thread last night. Today I am a one-handed typist! My left hand is swollen almost beyond recognition and I hardly got any sleep last night with the itch and pain.
I should have gone to the A & E today, because my fingers are occasionally turning blue, but its over 12 miles away and I can't even get dressed! This is the worst ever!
Never mind, things can only get better, eh? Tomorrow the medico is open in the village so I can go there if it hasn't improved, but I expect it will have
If you can't catch one and take it (which I recommend) at least try calling one of the following:
1) Your local vector control office
2) An entymologist at a nearby university or college
3) The office (or the truck) of a pest control company
sounds like an ant from hell to me. get an exterminator to look out there.
Land invertebrates in Spain
ant : hormiga formiga (Cat.); black ant : hormiga negra ; ant nest : hormiguero
In Spain there is supposed to be only one species of poisonous ant (Myrmica rubra laevinoides - hormiga roja chica), although its bite is not serious.
Garden is full of ants and I'm sure it isn't one of them. My partner never gets bitten, neither do my neighbours - only me, so I suspect this insect isn't a problem for anyone else, so it won't get listed anywhere! I'm obviously allergic to it!
But it is a bloodsucker,as opposed to a biter, because everytime I've been bitten I've felt a prick and blood oozes out immediately.
Could you try and capture it and put it in a piece of scotch tape. Maybe take it to the doctor and she what he or she says. They will most likely know what kind of bug it is. If you don;t want to go th the doctor. Maybe you have a exterminator who if shown the bug would know what kind it was.
Feel better and good luck.
I first thought of the old favorite british insect the Clegg which as you know has similar symptoms when they bite.
so on that basis i searched and found that it could be a sand fly or A no see um as they are sometimes called. you will find a few pics on a google image search hope that helps.....jimmy
You know Jimmy you might be on to something! The sandfly and leishmaniosis in dogs is endemic here. I thought they were bigger for some reason. What bites me is tiny! And so, it seems, are they! Hmmm!
Have looked them up, and they seem to be a likely candidate. Thanks!
I need to do what joaniemb suggests and trap it next time, as for sure there will be a next time.
I read that their bites are more painful than mosquito bites (at the time) and yes what has bitten me is painful at the point of the bite unlike the mosquito which I only know about when I start itching.
I'm soaking my hand periodically in iced water now to try and reduce the swelling. I should have sought medical attention today! It's not really getting any better yet. I can't move my fingers at all! This is worse than last time.
Just an update to say I've been to the doc and got an injection and enough medication to treat the 3rd world! Cost over €20 and that was with prescriptions (you get something like a 60% reduction on the correct price with a script). Have to go back tomorrow and day after, and in future go straight to hospital because i am allergic.
I can't use my hand at all, so can't write hubs till it's fixed. One-handed typing takes too long!
glad you got it treated. did the doc have an idea of what it was?
something you are allergic to, so wear those gloves.
I was out gardening the other day and noticed my dog was curiously watching something behind the air conditioner compressor where it is moist (and leaves were in back of it also).
I walked over to see as he was trying to corner it and it was a harmless black snake... BUT it did remind me it is spring and I need to be more observant now.
hope you feel better soon.
Izzy, my friend, take the blue pill hon, not red, the blue one xo
I thought the blue pill was Viagra? Does that help insect bites too?
Doesn't prevent bites but it increases your blood pressure so much that when they do bite you they get their mandibles blown off and a firehose blast of blood that shoots them halfway across the yard.
may be its wasp or wasp like insect,
mostly spiders live on plants and many are poisonous, as they carry formic acid in their sting.
try to wear some sort of gloves while checking your plants.
Izzy - might be worth you looking on wikipedia at a insect called an antlion - which lives in dry areas and will inflict painful bites, it says it comes in various sizes. It could be living in the garden in one area.
I had a read thanks 2ueday, and the first things that struck me is the size (way too big), however they did say the European variety is much smaller.
I suppose it could down as a contender, expect once again this nsect only tends to come out at night.
Every time I've been stung/bitten by whatever it is that I am allergic to, has been through the day, right when the sun is at its strongest.
I've long since given up siting outside on the terrace to enjoy the cool of an evening because the mosquitoes bit me so much, but never once did I get an allergic reaction type bite in the evening or at night.
Plus although the soil is sandy here, it also has the texture of clay and its rock solid in the summer. The ants can break through the surface, but the nesting habits of this fly suggests they like open, loose sand to breed in.
Wooo! Just found new replies to this. I'm scared to work in the garden at all nowadayes, which is a shame because I'm a gardener.
Gloves I can't wear because I have a phobia of something crawling inside and laying eggs or something. I've only ever been able to wear gardening gloves one time, and they are too dear to replace so I just don't wear them.
DEET or ICARIDIN may have a bad press as chemicals, but why should I worry when I smoke? That's a bit like saying don't use saccharine because it causes cancer. So do cigarettes.
2useday, I'm off to look up that insect you mentioned...
IzzyM maybe chigger mites or biting midges? regardless, look up this site.
other than that please take care.
P.S a glove i sold now with a breathable cloth top and a rubber palm for gardening, that might work better
All I can say is that I hope you feel better and that I hope he at least enjoyed his lunch for all the trouble it caused!
Could it be an Assassin Bug? They will bite. Google it and you will find loads of info. I know there are species that live in the Mediterranean area.
You two have given me two more possibilities. I would really like to know what it is, but I am really going to have to remember to catch one next time I get bitten instead of swiping it away. I hope I don't get bitten again. I stay out of the garden now (and I'm a gardener!)but I'll probably forget the danger one day and get bitten
I've looked them up - got to say assassin bug looks less likely judging by its shape and color and feeding habits. Chigger looks like being the wrong color -its red or orange or yellow, but what bit me was black.
If I ever snare one I'll upload its photo.
I don't think a pest control company from Canada is going to travel to Spain to help me out, but thanks anyway
If you're in the house most insects that bits you are mosquitoes, cockroach and spider and to avoid them just spray a insecticide.
I too live in Spain and am often bitten by these monsters. Like me you appear to be getting an allergic reaction to them. I've asked the locals what these insects are but no-one seems to be able to identify them. They often bite me on the lips or around the mouth area which results in hugely swollen lips. I got bitten this morning and have taken two anti-histamine to no avail. Lips are so swollen that it's difficult to eat.
I just wish I could catch one of the blighters but as you say, you rarely see or feel them until they have actually bitten you. I get the bite and the first thing I feel is blood trickling.
I have seen them flying around my face and they are definitely some form of minute flying beetle.
Sorry I haven't read all of the responses, but hopefully I can help.
It sounds like you might be having a problem with midges:
Midges are drawn to humid, shaded areas. This could explain why they don't hang out in your neighbour's open concrete "garden". If you have a number of shady trees in your yard and a hot, humid climate, midges are going to love your yard.
Unfortunately there's not a lot you can do to control these pests. Cutting back the trees to expose your yard to direct sunlight MAY help marginally, but is it worth it?
Spray yourself with insect repellent before venturing out into your garden. Also, there is treatment out there to de-sensitise your body to severe allergic reactions. Just as an example, if you're severely allergic to grass clippings, a specialist can administer a series of injections over a period of 3 months or so that literally get rid of your allergy in a safe manner. If you're experiencing such bad reactions to these insect bites, it might be worth speaking to your doctor about this treatment.
I hope that helps!
Thanks but's not a midge. Scotland - especially on the west coast - is hoaching with midges and they are annoying and bite but not like this.
I'm told there is a Spanish midge that acts quite differently to a Scottish midge, but I think that's just someone mislabelling insects.
Sounds like no-see-ums to me, haha. I am terribly allergic to some biting flies we have out here and I found that applying ammonia to the bite, as SOON as possible after you know you have been bitten, neutralizes the reaction. I have no idea why. Of course, you are taking every precaution not to get bitten again but it might be worth a try if you do.
Hi Izzy I have just looked at the noseeums and this is a picture of on it looks like it might be what you are talking about here is the link to the photo
http://bugguide.net/images/cache/BH7HOH … PHVZEH.jpg
Could be right Maggs - they are certainly about that size!
Got a new Spanish neighbour moved in from Villajoyosa and she says mosquito tigres (tiger mosquitoes) are a huge problem in this whole area, so that is another contender.
Apparently they bite during the day and are smaller than ordinary mosquitoes and are black with white lines on their bodies (too small for me to see). They are causing bad allergic reactions in a lot of people.
Sometimes Izzy we get tiny little flies and I mean tiny, some are straw coloured and some are black when they bite they really hurt and they carry on hurting for quite sometime. The bite swells up and it itches. The pain is out of all proportion to the size of the thing.
I hope that you are feeling better and the the meds have kicked in and are doing their job.
Just think back in the UK each item on perscription is now over £7 I think it is £70.40 that is if you can get in to see a doctor Lol..
My doctor down in Orchetta is great and the longest I have had to wait is about twenty minutes and that is without an appointment.
You are right about it being like a social meeting place everybody talks to you in the waiting room.
Gosh yes I'm fine now - this was 9 months ago and I haven't been bitten since, but I usually get bitten about twice every year, but I have noticed it is happening less and less, probably because I've more or less stopped gardening.
Your doctor isn't Regina by any chance? probably not, she lives in Orcheta but I think she works in Sella. She's a complete nut
Glad to hear that you are now fine sorry to hear that you don't get out in the garden much though that's a real shame as you use to be really into gardening.
No my doc is a chap for the life of me I can't recall his name until recently I hadn't set foot inside a doctor's surgery in years. I went a few months back feeling unwell and I have high blood pressure so now I have to go for check ups every few weeks while they get the medication sorted out.
I normally see the assistant Ruben who takes my blood pressure and weighs me. I have to lose weight and walk at least 40 minutes every day. I walk down to the tres Amigos in the village with my hubby each morning and have a diet coke and then we walk back.
That takes about forty minutes not counting the bit outside the bar watching the world go by.
Have you seen flashy sports cars that have been going up the mountain just lately? A white pace car in front followed by six high end sports cars there are about four lots of these most days.
The other day one of the sports cars lost it coming out of Orchetta on its way to Sella and hit one of the big concrete blocks on the bridge on that first corner out of the village.
I notice that they are all driving much more sedately since the accident.
I was going to write a hub about them! Got some photos - all I need is an interview with the white car people. They travel up to our village, go round the football pitches. Stop. The person in the white car goes up and down the line of them and notes something on a clipboard. Then they all go off down the mountain again.
Haha- wish I'd seen the bump! They are all German top of the range sports cars and I heard they are driven by a representative from each dealer garage. Sometimes there is over 20 of them in a row! All BMWs and Mercs and things.
I had Sunday lunch in the Three Amigos last week. Maybe you were there too? there was a lot of English folk in but I was with a Spanish party.
No I I haven't eaten there yet. I have heard that there fish and chips that they do on a friday night are really excellent.
The car that crashed was a real wreck it it the concrete block with a heck of a thump. The girls in the pace car covered the car with what looked like a custom made car cover so you couldn't see the damage. Malc and I sat on the bridge watch the guardia and the reps from the car firm all waiting for the grua to come and take the car away.
They all stop off at some point at the layby overlooking the res where the pace car driver takes a group photo of all the drivers.
The way they were driving coming out of the village before the accident I wasn't surprised that one of them lost control. It was an accident waiting to happen.
The pace cars now are finally doing their job and regulating the speed of the sports cars. You can see that a lot of the drivers of the sports cars don't know how to drive a powerful sports car and it tends to run away with them.
I live here in Florida. We do have fire ants. They can bite and their bite itches , burns and it swells on for day's, They are mean and nasty. Then you may have chigger's ( Sand fleas). You do see them only as black spots. Fleas over all. Here is a spider chart. I wish you luck and be careful.
http://www.termite.com/spider-identific … ownrecluse
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