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Tiny bugs taking big bites on people in Tippecanoe County this fall

Tiny, almost invisible bugs have recently been biting on people in Tippecanoe County. It's called an "Insidious Flower Bug."

Posted: Oct 12, 2020 8:08 PM
Updated: Oct 12, 2020 8:17 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) -- Tiny, almost invisible bugs have recently been biting on people in Tippecanoe County. It's called an "Insidious Flower Bug." If you've been outside lately, you may have felt its pinch.

"This is an insect that comes out in late summer, when the temperatures are still warm during the daytime but cooling off at night these things seem to be most active," said Tim Gibb, insect diagnostician at Purdue University's Department of Entomology.

While it's almost impossible to see with the naked-eye, Gibb said its bite can be brutal.

"'Insidious' comes for the fact that you don't ever see them sneak up on you and when they bite, they bite with a wallop, and in fact, their bite is proportionately so much bigger than their size that it catches people off-guard," said Gibb.

The bugs begin developing in the summer and by fall they reach adulthood where they grow a pair of wings. This helps them travel to find food. The Insidious Flower Bugs only feast on other insects. Gibb said experts believe they bite humans because they mistake us for food.

"Technically its called pierce of a pinprick but it's not actually a bite because they're not feeding," said Gibb. "We do know that they're not harmful, they don't inject any venom."

Their bite or" prick" is harmless to most but can leave swelling on the skin similar to a mosquito bite. Indiana's large lands of agriculture, forestry, and greenery make this the perfect place for these bugs to breed. The Insidious Flower Bugs primarily feast off insects that linger on plants. 

"The easiest thing to do is to wear clothing that will protect the naked-skin. They can't bite through cloth so that will help," said Gibb.

Gibb said wearing dark colors is also a way to help avoid being bitten since the bugs are more attracted to light colors. He said these bugs are expected to die off when the weather drops to frost-like temperatures. 

The Insidious Flower Bugs are particularly attracted to humans when they're sweating. And this phenomenon is happening across the region.

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