What are these mysterious bite marks?
June 26, 2011 12:59 AM   Subscribe

What are these strange bite marks?

My wife's been getting these mysterious bite marks all over her body for the past week or so. We're kind stumped as to what could be the cause...anybody has any idea?


She saw a tiny spider and insists there's a colony of baby spiders hiding in her room and feasting on her in the night. I'm not so sure. Also, I love spiders.

Help us solve this mystery? Thanks!
posted by mordecai to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
My fist suspicion would be bed bugs.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:27 AM on June 26, 2011

I also love spiders. And bats too, but I digress. Those bites look more like they're from bed bugs, or fleas. You and your wife should try to think through her daily routine--are these bites certainly happening at night, in your home?

I once bug-bombed my apartment only to realize weeks later that the fleas had infested my favorite library study spot.
posted by L'oeuvre Child at 1:32 AM on June 26, 2011

To me, those look like spider bites, but they're pretty numerous to be spiders. Oh, wait, there's a colony? I suspected spiders on the picture alone, without even reading past the link. So, my vote is that your wife is right.

My qualifications: I've had serious fleas, mosquitoes, and also spider bites, and the ones with craters like that were spiders, or a mosquito bite I'd scratched the hell out of. I've never had bed bugs, so they could be that. Ah, but no, google says they come in lines of 3-4?
posted by salvia at 2:07 AM on June 26, 2011

I've been told that spider bites usually have two side-by-side puncture wounds. So you might be able to rule those out or in on that basis.
posted by lollusc at 2:39 AM on June 26, 2011

She's getting them at night while sleeping? Then I would go with bed bugs too. Bed bug bites don't just happen in lines and rows and manifest a lot differently on different people. It's something to consider. See if they get more frequent or if she suddenly gets a lot more of them. If not, relief!
posted by houndsoflove at 3:54 AM on June 26, 2011

It's difficult to fully tell the scale in the photo, but they look like chigger bites to me.
posted by magnoliacoffee at 5:16 AM on June 26, 2011

My room is full of spiders, they're pretty fab. They pretty much never bite me and certainly not in bulk like that. Generally spiders are only going to bite a human in self-defense. If you pull her bed out and dust thoroughly around it and change the sheets then I think you can be pretty sure she's not accidentally threatening them at night and rule out spiders.

'Tis the season for mosquitos, but could also be bed bugs or some other really horrible pest.
posted by anaelith at 5:41 AM on June 26, 2011

anaelith has a good point, in that spiders are not going to go out of their way to bite people. When you have that many bites, I would be looking for bedbugs.
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:14 AM on June 26, 2011

I've dealt with both pests before.

I had a spider problem in a previous apartment, and I'd get one isolated bite here or there every once in a while. Sometimes I had more than one on my body at the same time, but usually in wildly different areas from each other. They were usually on my stomach, chest, or back, for some reason.

I had a run in with bedbugs while traveling. In that situation, the bites were extremely numerous - I realized it wasn't ants or mosquitos when I counted something like 20 bites and realized I hadn't seen a single ant or mosquito in weeks. These bites were not always strictly in lines of 3-4, but they were all on my arms and legs, and there were LOTS of them.
posted by Sara C. at 6:46 AM on June 26, 2011

Bed bugs classically bite in a series of a few bites, like what's shown on the (?)arm on the left, classically three bites but can be two. So my vote is for bed bugs.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:51 AM on June 26, 2011

Do you live in an area where fire ants could be biting? These look like fire ant bites that have had the blister scratched off.
posted by tamitang at 7:30 AM on June 26, 2011

Do you happen to have rodents living anywhere near your house? Rats, possums, squirrels, raccoons, etc?

I had something similar going on for awhile- the bites would be anywhere from legs on up to torso and neck, but never in a pattern, and often well enough protected by pajamas that spiders just didn't make sense. Very itchy, much longer lasting than a mosquito bite, say; the bites would linger for weeks. So I thought it must be bed bugs, even though it didn't fit any classical signs, but I never found any sort of a clue for an infuriatingly long time (a year or two). Eventually the affliction got worse, and they started biting the heck out of my toddler as she slept. Just when I was about to go into full-blown bedbug panic mode, I stripped her bed one morning and found a solitary tiny thing wandering in a circle on the pillow under the pillowcase. Finally a smoking gun.

Long story short, after a little research I identified it as a tropical rat mite, which suddenly made sense, as some time earlier I'd found a rat that died in the house while we were on holiday. Rats and possums had made visits previously as well, and no doubt taken up residence for short periods. We had a guy out who deployed a few foggers and sprayed the baseboards (mostly for an incidental ant problem, but might have helped this as well), who also noted that some critter had pried open a foundation vent giving access to the space under the house, so it was highly likely we had vermin as close upstairs/downstairs neighbors.

Anyway, three hours after fogging and some poison bait , the bugs have never manifested again (knock on wood). Apparently these rat mites are fairly common in our area (SF East Bay). Sorry such a drawn-out reply, but it was such a revelation to figure out what the heck was bugging us that I feel the need to proselytize a bit.
posted by otterpop at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry, but that looks exactly like the bedbug bites I had before I realized what they were. Mine were never in the telltale row - just single bites or rows of two, just like that picture.

Remove the sheets of your bed carefully, paying close attention to any black spots or red smears, and examine the seams of your mattress for any molted exoskeletons or resting bugs. Also examine the floorboards next to the bed for the same. Lots of info on Ask about what to do if you discover that you truly have bedbugs.
posted by gemmy at 10:37 AM on June 26, 2011

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