Tiny pirate bugs with big bite expected to die off soon

Local News

Minute pirate bugs, also called no-see-ums, won't be around after the first frost

If you’ve been outside you’ve probably felt the tiny black bugs with a big bite.  

These insects are called minute pirate bugs, sometimes called insidious flower bugs or “no-see-ums” because of how small they are. They are only about ⅛ of an inch in size

Tierney Brosius, an entomology professor at Augustana college, said the bugs thrive around this time of year on warmer fall days. Although they are pests, outside of their bite, she said they

they are not dangerous.

“They don’t actually draw any of our blood. But some of us just have a reaction to them that’s itchy like a mosquito bite. But, they don’t pose any sort of health threat,” she said. 

She said they will die off soon, and usually live for only about 14-21 days. 

“The first kind of hard [frost] we have, they’ll go away,” she said. 

She said the bugs are common in the midwest. They feed on pests in soybean and corn fields and ultimately help farmers’ crops. 

In the meantime before colder weather, if you do get bit by these bugs, Robert Maxsell, the medical director for Genesis Convenient Care in Davenport, said the bites are easily treatable. 

“They can cause some pretty itchy welts. The best thing to do for them is to use an over-the-counter antihistamine cream like Benadryl cream or a steroid cream such as cortisone,” he said. 

You can keep these pesky pirate bugs away by: 

  • Using vanilla extract as bug spray since they are not repelled by harsher bug sprays
  • Wearing long sleeves and long pants 
  • Wearing bright colors 

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