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Biting insect season is here

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[September 30, 2008]  During the late summer, small insects known as insidious flower bugs and minute pirate bugs become real pests by producing painful bites on people. These insects are about one-fifth of an inch long with black and white markings on the back. They are beneficial most of the time while feeding on other small insects and their eggs.

InsuranceThey are present all summer in area fields, flower beds and other landscape areas. Most of the summer these 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 donít 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 insidious flower bugs and minute pirate bugs is not practical. They are mobile, and the populations change greatly. Wearing dark clothing 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.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]

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