Southern Louisiana, with its warm, subtropical climate, is a favorite spot for vacationers. It is also a prime destination for insects. They thrive in the moist climate, and the topography provides many places for them to live. Like humans, insects want to be left alone to find shelter, eat food, mate, and raise young. When the worlds of humans and insects collide, though, some biting and stinging bugs will defend themselves, however reluctantly. In certain cases, you may want to consider pest control services. In southern Louisiana, it is a good idea to ask this important question: Will it bite?
In short, yes. However, mosquitoes do not actually bite. Rather, female mosquitoes insert a straw-like mouthpart through and under your skin in order to feed. Your body instantly reacts to a substance the mosquito releases just beneath your skin, and your immune system kicks into action. It sends histamine, which makes blood vessels swell, causing the characteristic bumps you see after a close encounter with a mosquito. Nearby nerves become irritated from the swollen vessels, resulting in an itching sensation.
Not likely. In general, termites feast upon wood rather than humans. Soldier termites, though, can become biting bugs if they feel they are under attack. Therefore, bites from these termites only happen when they are severely threatened. This is a case where it is best to leave these insects alone and hire professional for termite pest control.
Yes. After a tick gets on your body, it generally settles in your hair, armpit, or groin. It will get comfortable and begin to take in blood, growing larger as it feeds. The tick may gorge for days, or in some cases weeks, before releasing its hold and falling off. Once attached, ticks do not roam around, nor does one tick make multiple bites. The best way to know if you have received a bite from a tick is to search your body. Ticks are generally harmless, but they can pose a danger to those who are allergic to them. Some ticks also carry viruses that can cause debilitating illnesses.
Unlikely. Spiders are not aggressive bugs. They only bite when they are feeling threatened. In fact, they do not want to have contact with you any more than you want to with them, and they will only bite in cases of accidental contact, such as a human reaching into a nook where a spider is hiding. Most spiders’ fangs cannot penetrate human skin. More sensitive individuals could sometimes experience localized swelling, redness, and pain should a bite occur when there is inadvertent contact (during the night while sleeping, for example), but many humans would not even notice a bite.
There are more than 3,000 species of spiders throughout the United States, with only three of these considered dangerous to humans. All three of those species are found in Louisiana:
The best rule to avoid these bugs is to look before sticking your hand anywhere. Pay attention to your surroundings. One of the names says it all: recluse. These spiders want to find quiet places, and they only bite if they feel severely threatened. Leave them alone, and they are more than happy to return the favor.
Probably not. So-called stink bugs are vegetable and fruit eaters, and they usually do not bother humans. Like other insects such as termites, they only bite if they feel severely threatened.
Not likely. Cockroaches are generally not biting bugs. They may bite humans only in cases of severe food depletion, and even then they only target people who are sedentary.
Yes. Ants do bite. However, each species has its own type of “attack.” Sugar ants sometimes bite humans in defense, but their bites usually do not cause pain. Carpenter ants, however, can inflict painful bites if they are feeling threatened. Fire ants also bite, but it is their sting that has become infamous. They bite in order to grip their prey securely, then begin to sting. Fire ants can build huge mounds from which they swarm out if disturbed. They have been known to harm and even kill livestock.
No. Bees are not biting bugs but rather stinging insects. Female bees are the ones that can sting. When a honeybee stings, however, it pays the ultimate price: Its stinger becomes embedded in the human’s skin, and the bee dies. Queen bees retain their stingers and can sting multiple times, but they seldom venture out in the open and encountering one is not likely.
Bumblebees are not hostile. When a female bumblebee feels severely threatened, though, it will caution you up to three times before stinging by raising and then straightening its middle legs and displaying its stinger. If you see this, back away from the bee, and it will not bother you. If a bumblebee is driven to sting, it retains its stinger and so does not die.
No. Like bees, wasps are not biting bugs; they sting. Only the females attack humans, and their stingers do not detach, allowing them to sting multiple times during an assault. Like most insects, they become violent only to defend themselves when they feel they are in danger. They will not bite humans, but they can bite prey or objects when building a nest.
No, but some sting. For example, the large American Dagger Moth is safe enough, but its caterpillars are bristly and will give anyone who gets too close an uncomfortable sting. Generally, if in doubt, do not touch.
Insect Etiquette 101
Just like humans, insects in southern Louisiana want to feel safe while they go about their daily activities. Most biting bugs and stinging insects are not aggressive in themselves, as long as you respect their spaces and do not provoke them. In some cases, however, such as termite infestations, you may want to engage pest control professionals to prevent costly damage to your home or business. Other species, such as mosquitoes and ticks, feed on blood and will seek you out. A good rule is to leave insects alone and show consideration for their habitats, and teach children to do the same. The best way to coexist with insects is to carefully look but do not touch, and chances are they will not harm you.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.