What's biting my wife?
June 15, 2005 6:50 PM   Subscribe

My wife is being eaten alive by some sort of hidden insect in our house. Actually, we don't think it's hidden -- on the windowsills of our house we keep seeing these very tiny -- a little smaller than a sesame seed -- brownish bugs. They have two antennae.

They're on the windowsills because this house is old-ass and has single-pane windows, and there's clearly very easy access for bugs of this size. We're not sure if this is the culprit, but wifey has found a couple of these little bastards near her when she feels a bite.

Her bites are actually quite large -- almost mosquito- or spider-bite sized. Could this tiny insect be doing it? Also, I've not received a single bite, whereas she has more than a dozen.

Any comments/answers would be appreciated.
posted by johndavi to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
maybe bedbugs?
posted by delmoi at 7:06 PM on June 15, 2005

fleas? Do you have pets? Are the bites on the legs? The bugs on the windowsills don't sound like biters. As for you not getting bitten, some folks just seem to be more tasty. Stick around them for your own protection.
posted by caddis at 7:13 PM on June 15, 2005

I agree that the bugs on your windowsill don't sound like the culprit. If you tell us the general area or climate you're in it might help us to guess the real biter. Here is some information about bedbugs. Mosquitos are obviously also a candidate at this time of year.

While you might be less tasty, you also might be getting bitten just as much as your wife but you're not allergic or sensitive. For example, I take an antihistamine daily for asthma, and I can be bitten by a mosquito with no swelling at all. My wife always comes home with huge red bites while I have none.
posted by mmoncur at 7:39 PM on June 15, 2005

Could they be chiggers? They are usually more red than brown, but they do have a heck of a bite for being so small...
posted by achmorrison at 7:41 PM on June 15, 2005

What about fire ants? They are tiny and reddish brown (though pretty recognizable as ants) -- they pack a KILLER bite. You usually feel the bite almost immediately - I got bit today, and it felt like I dropped a lit match on my foot. My husband hardly reacts to them at all, but for me it's initially painful, red, and swollen - and then remains painfully itchy for about a week.

For treatment, I've found that an antihistamine - like Benadryl - is pretty effective. Topical medications provide very little relief.
posted by roundrock at 7:46 PM on June 15, 2005

Last week, lots and lots of tiny bugs (about half a millimeter long) suddenly appeared around one of my windows. They definitely bit, and the bites itched a lot. So, yes, tiny bugs can bite :)

I sprayed the window and the floor and furniture around it with a generic anti-crawling-things spray, which seems to have killed them all. At least they haven't reappeared yet.
posted by reynaert at 8:00 PM on June 15, 2005

My money's on a type of midge. Repair screens, get some silicon sealant and run it along the edges of the storm window, etc. and you'll probably be fine. You may also want to check near that window for any standing water conditions where they may be hatching, or perhaps food sources such as decaying vegetation.
posted by dhartung at 9:46 PM on June 15, 2005

What roundrock said. The fireants got me last night when I was weeding my garden. They do not make it through the winters in colder climates, but are a plague in the southern United States. Benadryl is the best treatment I've found (both topical and oral), other than avoiding them. Although usually an outdoor menace, I've had them indoors as well. They are recognizable because they build mounded hills of loose dirt. If you disturb the mound, they swarm about looking for something to attack. If you happen to stand in a mound by mistake, they will swarm up your leg without biting... then one starts to bite and the rest join in so before you know it you have several dozen bites.
posted by Doohickie at 7:26 AM on June 16, 2005

Hmmm, I think I have those same teeny critters on a few windowsills, and I have unidentified bug bites. I generally have a casual attitude towards housekeeping, and find that when I keep the window woodwork scrubbed, the little critters retreat. They are definitely not ants of any type, and they are easily small enough to go through screens. How can such a tiny bug store enough venom to make it itch so much?
posted by theora55 at 8:04 AM on June 16, 2005

Put on a pair of white tube socks and shorts (or skirt, or something above the knee). Shuffle around the carpet in your house. Shuffle all around. If little black/brown dots appear all over your socks, congratulations...you've got fleas!
posted by crythecry at 8:41 PM on June 16, 2005

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