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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
minute pirate bug

More Biting Insects - The Minute Pirate Bug

Posted by John Fulton -

First came the buffalo gnats, then mosquitoes, and still mosquitoes, and now another biting insect. Having bites for the past week or so from the new insect. During the late summer small insects, known as insidious flower bugs and minute pirate bugs, become real pests by producing painful bites on people. They are about 1/5 of an inch long with black and white markings on the back, and belong to the "true bug" family of insects. They are beneficial insects most of the time, at least while feeding on small insects and their eggs.

They are present all summer in area fields, flower beds, and other landscape areas. Most of the summer the insects are beneficial, but then they become quite the nuisance when their regular food source runs out. Their painful bite is caused by their beak breaking your skin. These insects don't suck blood or inject venom like mosquitoes.

People differ in their response to the bites. Some people react to the bites like mosquito bites, with swelling and itching. Other people have no reaction at all. Control of insidious flower bugs and minute pirate bugs is not practical. They are mobile, and the populations change greatly. Wearing dark clothing on may help, as the insects seem to be attracted to light colors. Repellents are sometimes effective, but not enough to make a recommendation. Try the repellents for yourself and see if they work for you. You can throw the same group of repellents in to your trial that you stocked up on for the buffalo gnats.



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