CPR First Aid

A Comprehensive Guide to Common Insect Bites

They are all around you. Sooner or later, they’ll strike. We are talking about insects. 

There are so many insects in Australia and around the world. Scientists estimate that there may be 10 quintillion insects in total today, as opposed to the seven billion humans. Unfortunately, many of these insects can bite people, causing injuries, diseases, or even death. 

Fortunately, we’re here to share with you a comprehensive guide to common insect bites. Throughout this article, we’ll talk about their bites, the various accompanying symptoms, and how to treat them. Our guide will cover insects that are very common to serious ones.

Let’s start.


First up, we have spiders. Currently, there are over 40,000 species of arachnids in the world. While only a handful is considered truly dangerous, depending on where one is in the world, the number and species of spiders are still a great cause for concern. 

When discussing how deadly spiders are, a compilation of several reports shows that ever since antivenoms were created and the right procedures were established, deaths fell to single digits. 

With that said though, the bites from various spiders can cause injuries and effects. If not treated, it could be fatal.

Spiders: 40,000 species worldwide. Some dangerous. Global worry persists.

The Bite

In most cases, bites from spiders are generally the same. They usually look and feel like normal bites from insects. These are bumps on the skin that will turn red and itchy. 

These change though when faced with venomous spiders

For instance, a bite from the black widow feels like a simple ant bite. It begins as a red mark. Upon closer inspection though, one can see two small puncture marks, like a vampire. 

Pretty soon, the red mark will swell and flare up. 

As another example, the brown recluse spider differs as well. The area of their bite will be surrounded by a red ring.

These are just some examples of the bites of spiders.



First, we start with the general symptoms of common spider bites. This is because the symptoms may vary largely depending on the spider. 

As previously mentioned, common spiders will usually leave reddish bumps on the skin, much like other insect bites. Pretty soon, the area will begin to swell, itch, and become painful.

These marks should go away on their own as the day goes on.

While they don’t seem so bad, these are only useful if a person sees the spider that bit them. Without knowing the species, these symptoms can grow into more problematic ones.

Furthermore, there is always a chance that a person is allergic to venom. This leads to anaphylaxis which can be fatal. 

Red Back Spider

Next up, we have the redback spider, a very dangerous species. 

Let us preface this by saying that many factors come into play when talking about spider symptoms. However, we can go on with similar symptoms.

With this spider, it starts with the general symptoms. Pretty soon though, the pain grows and will eventually flood the entire limb. 

Soon after, the person will start to sweat profusely. It will soon be accompanied by headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

Funnel Web Spider

Another dangerous spider is the funnel web. This spider’s bite introduces more frightening symptoms. 

After a bite, a person will start to feel dizzy and drool. This will quickly be accompanied by a tingling sensation around the lips area. 

Muscle spasms will soon hit the body, along with nausea and dizzy spells. The venom then travels to the nervous system, at which time the victim may start shivering and feeling confused. 

Finally, the heart rate will escalate rapidly, eventually ending in shock. 

These are only a few symptoms of some dangerous spiders. Each insect bite from different arachnid species may vary. 


The first step to treating any spider bite is to identify which species bit you. Apart from the fact that symptoms vary between species, the antivenom used is also different. That is why it pays to know what the common and dangerous spiders around you look like.

After that, it is just a matter of going to the hospital.

If you didn’t see the spider, make sure to remember the timeline of the symptoms you have felt.

Remember that in some cases, spider bites are just like a normal insect bite. However, spider bites become emergencies if a person is allergic, if you know that the spider is very venomous, or if you aren’t sure what spider bit you. 


Knowledge is your first line of defence when trying to prevent spiders from biting you. A study on the spiders near you, their habitats and habits, as well as whether they are venomous or not can greatly help with this.

After that, it is all a matter of spider-proofing your home. 

Spiders thrive in clutter. It allows them the space and privacy to slink in every direction without you noticing. That is why a home must be kept tidy.

Apart from that, it may be a good idea to wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt if walking through the forest or other areas where spiders may be present.


Out of all the insects in the world, ants hold the distinction of being the most numerous. With more than 20,000 species only discovered (with more unknown), the total mass of all the ants in the world outnumbers the collective mass of all mammals, birds, and reptiles. It outweighs all these four times over.

They are everywhere, especially where the food is.

Out of all the insects in the world, ants hold the distinction of being the most numerous. With more than 20,000 species only discovered (with more unknown), the total mass of all the ants in the world outnumbers the collective mass of all mammals, birds, and reptiles. It outweighs all these four times over.

The Bite

Bites from ants are usually not severe, and they typically only result in mild itching or irritation. However, some people may be allergic to ant venom, and their bites can cause more serious reactions.

The pain though is variable depending on the species of ant. For instance, the bullet ant earned its name due to the severity of the pain received. People liken it to a bullet.


The symptoms of an ant bite depend on the type of ant and the person’s reaction to the venom. Some people experience only minor itching or irritation, while others may have a more severe reaction, including:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Blisters

These symptoms usually last for a few hours to a few days and resolve on their own. In some cases, the symptoms may last for weeks.


Most ant bites can be treated at home and do not require medical attention. The following treatments may help relieve symptoms:

  • Washing the area with soap and water
  • Applying a cold compress to the area
  • Taking an antihistamine to reduce itching
  • Using over-the-counter (OTC) topical corticosteroids to reduce swelling

In some cases, a person may need prescription-strength topical or oral corticosteroids or antibiotics. People who are allergic to insect venom may also need emergency treatment. This may include injectable epinephrine and antihistamines. People who have had anaphylactic reactions to insect bites in the past should always carry injectable epinephrine with them.


For ants, good housekeeping is always the way to go. Be sure not to leave any food left out in the open. At the same time, make sure that if you eat any chips or cookies, you don’t leave any crumbs around.

When heading out, watch out for any ant mounds and stay away from them. It may also be of interest to wear as much protective clothing as possible.

Finally, insect repellant does wonders for ants. Be sure to keep some on hand if ants become a problem.


Bedbugs are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. These pests are reddish-brown in colour, wingless, and oval-shaped. Adults grow to be about 4 to 5 mm long, while nymphs (bed bug babies) are much smaller. Bed Bugs can live for several months without a meal and are experts at hiding.

While bedbugs don’t transmit diseases, their bites can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable. Some people may also have allergic reactions to bedbug bites, which can range from mild to serious.

The Bite

Bed Bugs feed on the blood of humans and animals by piercing the skin with their long beaks. This process is called “feeding” or “taking a meal.” Bed Bugs usually bite people while they are sleeping because that is when they are most vulnerable.

Bedbug bites often appear in a line or cluster and are frequently found on exposed areas of skin like the face, neck, arms, and legs. The bites can also be found on the upper body, such as the chest or back.


The symptoms of bedbug bites vary from person to person. Some people may not have any reaction at all while others may experience itching, redness, and swelling. This type of insect bite usually appears as a small, red, swollen area that is extremely itchy. In some cases, the bite may also cause a blister.

Bedbug bites usually go away on their own after a few days but can last for weeks in some cases.


Most bedbug bites will resolve on their own within a few days without treatment. However, there are a few things you can do to ease the itchiness and discomfort.

As always, soap and water always do wonders for insect bites. They help to limit the itching, as well as prevent any infections from setting in.

If the itchiness becomes unbearable, a corticosteroid cream can be applied. Weaker types of this cream can be bought over the counter.

For home remedies, people can apply a cold compress and even a mixture of baking soda and water to the affected area.


First and foremost, be sure to inspect your sleeping area for any bed bugs. These pests are experts at hiding but can usually be found in the cracks and crevices of mattresses and headboards.

If you suspect that you have bed bugs, be sure to wash all of your bedding in hot water and dry it on high heat. Also, encase your mattress and box spring in a protective cover.

When traveling, be sure to inspect your hotel room for any bed bugs before unpacking your belongings. It’s also a good idea to keep luggage off of the floor and away from the bed.

Finally, be sure to vacuum regularly and declutter your home to remove any hiding spots for bedbugs.


Mosquitoes are small, flying insects that are known for their ability to transmit diseases. These pests are found all over the world and can carry diseases like the Zika virus, malaria, and West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes are attracted to warm weather and standing water. They lay their eggs in water, which is why they are often found near ponds, lakes, and marshes.

These insects feed on the blood of humans and animals by piercing the skin.

Mosquitoes are tiny insects, spread disease globally: Zika, malaria, West Nile.

The Bite

Mosquito bites usually appear as small, red, swollen areas that are extremely itchy. In some cases, the bite may also cause a blister.

These bumps usually puff up after a while. These bumps could then multiply, turn reddish brown, and become hard to the touch.


The symptoms of mosquito bites vary from person to person. Some people may not have any reaction at all while others may experience the common triumvirate of insect bites: itching, redness, and swelling.

In some cases though, mosquitoes are very dangerous. They can transmit diseases like Zika virus, malaria, dengue, and West Nile virus. Symptoms usually evolve into fevers and many other symptoms. These diseases can be serious and even deadly in some cases.


Most mosquito bites will resolve on their own within a few days without treatment. However, there are a few things you can do to ease the itchiness and discomfort. If you guessed soap and water, then you hit the nail right on the head.

For serious diseases like dengue, hospital treatment is a necessity.


The best way to prevent a mosquito insect bite is by safeguarding one’s home.

First and foremost, be sure to avoid standing water. This is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. If you have any standing water on your property, be sure to drain it.

You can also use insect repellent or mosquito coil when you’re doing outdoor activities. Repellents that contain DEET are the most effective.

When traveling to areas with high rates of mosquito-borne diseases, be sure to take extra precautions. Wear long sleeves and long pants. Use insect repellent and sleep under a mosquito net if possible.

Biting Midges

These are tiny flies that are about the size of a pinhead and sometimes, people confuse them with sandflies. Some also call them “no-see-ums” because of their very small size. In Australia, there are more than 200 different species of biting midges that are under the classification of the Order Diptera and family Ceratopogonidae.

These insects live in many inland and coastal areas in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, and other parts of the country. Breeding sites are around the edge of water ecosystems such as mangrove swamps, freshwater creeks, and intertidal estuaries. The adult females lay their eggs on damp soil, leaf material, or on vegetated substrate. The life cycle includes the worm (larvae/larval stages) and cocoon (pupa) stages before the adult emerges. Then, they live for several days up to months depending on the species.

The Bite

Only the female midges bite as they get protein from the human blood meal and use it to develop their eggs. In some cases, the adult biting midges attack exposed skin in large numbers and cause welts, irritation, and pain. However, they are not known to cause danger to public health as they do not transmit any human disease in Australia.

The midge activity occurs most often under calm environmental conditions from dawn to dusk.


An ice pack and a mild antihistamine may help provide initial relief. Antiseptic creams or antibiotics are good for secondary infections. For severe cases, the Australian gov agencies recommend seeking medical advice.


Temporary control of adult midges is possible with the use of insecticides through fogging. Residual chemical sprays are also available for use on the walls of the house, shade-cloth awnings, flyscreens, and vegetation. Remember to use these pest management products according to the manufacturer’s instructions as they may harm the spider population.

To prevent them from entering the house in the first place, it may help to screen all doors and windows with a fine mesh. Reducing humidity, increasing light, and improving the air movement at home may also put them away. Covering up when going outside and accessibility to insect repellents that contain picaridin or diethyl toluamide also help in the prevention of the bites.


We hope that the information we’ve provided on these common yet dangerous insect bites will help you considerably.

Remember that insects outnumber humans in this world. This means that the chances of you being at risk of any insect bite are quite large. Thus, it benefits everyone greatly to understand the bites of these insects, their symptoms, treatment, and prevention measures.

Another important thing to remember is that these small critters can sometimes have potentially fatal effects. Always be ready for these situations by learning the right first aid practices.

Learn more about them through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.



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