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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

Biting Insects

Posted by John Fulton -

They're back, and almost a month earlier than last year. 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. They are beneficial insects most of the time 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 insidous 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.

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