Pirate Bug Bites Make Their Presence Felt

Flower Bug, the large cousin of the Pirate Bug
Flower Bug, the larger
cousin of the Pirate Bug
Courtesy of iastate.edu

Oh, the irony!

The Peoria Journal Star is reporting that attendees of the recent Illinois Natural History Survey’s annual Insect Expo were bitten by the minute pirate bug. Joseph Spencer, an insect behaviorist, told the Journal star, “It almost felt like we were being bit by invisible bugs.”

According to the Iowa State University Department of Entomology, are the “rare cousins” of flower bugs and appear in late summer. Reactions vary with pirate bug bites resulting in swelling similar to mosquito bites, redness, no reaction.

The Journal Star says the bugs are commonly confused with buffalo gnats, a.k.a. black flies but don’t bring any disease and are not blood suckers. It is believed that the pirate bugs in the Illinois area feed on insect eggs and mites, consuming corn ear worm eggs.

But, it’s not all bad news in regards to the pirate bug. They actually provide a benefit to humans by controlling ear worm populations around corn crops according to the article. And as long as the pirate bug is well-fed, humans don’t have to worry about being their next meal.

September 30, 2008 – 7:14 pm
  1. 3 Responses to “Pirate Bug Bites Make Their Presence Felt”

  2. I was bit by these bugs over the weekend and each day the area around the bite get worse. It looks like a terrible rash. Around the bite are little bright red bumps and they itch very bad. Glad I was just visiting a relative and I don’t live in Central Illinois.


    By Laura on Nov 4, 2008

  3. I just returned from Nebraska, where there are millions of these bugs. Yes, they are very little but bite like red ants! Nothing showed up until the morning after I returned home to find my arms, legs and neck were covered with red swollen bumps that itch like crazy. It’s been three days and the red swollen itchy bumps are still here!


    By Eva on Oct 13, 2010

  4. We have a new neighbor who brought tons of potted plants with her…along with these bugs! My feet are covered in bites, and these bugs are flying around our apartment. They look like big gnats! I never felt the bites, so more than likely they got me while I was sleeping. The bites are bright red, very swollen and they itch worse than any bite I’ve ever had! My brother is an exterminator, he says to use a plant sterilizer on the affected plants. And to try to keep a lotion or baby oil on the skin if you are still near the bugs, it will keep them from being able to climb around and bite. I hope we are able to get rid of these things soon!


    By Liz on Aug 31, 2011

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