Ever have the feeling something is crawling on your skin or even biting you, but you can’t see it?! Sometimes this sensation may be due to a living creature, but not in all situations. In this article, we will discuss some causes of that “creeping” feeling we all may have from time to time.
Environmental or Health Associated Causes
- Low Humidity – Dry air can cause the skin to become dry. It will also increase static electricity, causing particles to be drawn to the skin or for body hair to move, creating that “crawling” feeling. Sometimes, all it takes is using a skin moisturizer and an air humidifier to relieve the phantom biting feeling.
- Clogged Air Conditioning Filter – Air conditioning filters separate small particles from the air, but when they are clogged, they actually cause more particles to be in the air. These small bits of fiber, dust and such can land on the skin and cause irritation. In order to prevent this from happening, air conditioning filters should be changed on a regular basis.
- Excess Particulates in the Air – A clogged air conditioning filter can cause this occurrence, but there are other scenarios which may lead to air-born debris. Excess dust or animal hair can be reduced by vacuuming and regular housekeeping. Sometimes attic insulation or aged air conditioning ductwork is the culprit. Paper fibers or carpet fibers can also cause irritation to the skin in certain situations.
- Skin Allergies – Changing detergent, bath soaps, perfume, etc., can sometimes cause skin irritation and “bites” to form.
- Health Issues – Certain medical conditions (such as shingles) can cause the skin to react with itchy bumps. Some medications can also cause skin rashes as a possible side effect. Lice and scabies, although caused by arthropod pests, are also considered medical issues, rather than issues a pest control company can assist with.
Possible (and Perhaps Unusual) Pest Causes
- Bed Bugs – Bed bugs are quite elusive and good at hiding, so infestations may go undetected until the population is extensive. They primarily feed on blood when their host is asleep, so you may not catch them dining on you. You may, however, awake with their bite marks.
- Fleas and Ticks – Generally speaking, most people know when they are having an issue with these pests. Flea and tick infestations usually originate from an infested animal, then find their way to human victims. On occasion, people traveling through an infested area (for example, a wooded area with lone star ticks) will be attacked by these pests, as well. Based on the species of pest, an infestation inside a building may not be possible.
- Latent Bug Bites – If you’ve lived in Florida for any length of time, you’re aware that mosquitoes, chiggers (“red bugs”), deer flies and so forth will feed on you if you encounter them outside. Sometimes, we may not notice their itchy bites immediately and assume whatever bit us is inside the building with us. In the case of chiggers, by the time you notice they’ve fed on you, they have left the scene of the crime. There is a misconception that chiggers bury themselves in their host similar to ticks; this is not true.
- Carpet Beetle Larvae – Carpet beetle larvae feed on animal products such as wool, feathers, animal hides, hair, etc. Their tiny bodies are covered with even tinier bristles that can cause skin irritation to some who contact the larvae or their skin casts. The adult beetles feed on pollen and are attracted to light, so they can commonly be found near windowsills and around blooming flowers.
- Psocids (Book Lice) – Usually an infestation of this pest indicates a moisture issue, as they thrive in humid conditions and feed on mold. Psocids are 1mm long (the thickness of a dime is 1mm, to put this into perspective). These pests can be felt when crawling on the skin, but are harmless to people.
- Thrips – Normally a plant pest, occasionally these insects find a way into structures via cut flowers or potted ornamentals. Because they have rasping (scraping) mouthparts, they can be felt on the skin as they try to feed on you. Don’t worry, though! They feed on plants, not people, so a taste should let them know you are not their next meal!
- “No See Ums” (Biting Midges) – Anyone who has been to marshy areas in Florida has probably been attacked by these insects. About the size of a freckle, biting midges are most active at dusk and dawn. Repellants may give some relief from these annoying blood feeders.
- Mites – These pests are not insects; they are more closely related to ticks and spiders. Mites are incredibly small and can best be seen under strong magnification. Most cases of mites biting people in their home can be tracked back to rodents or birds nesting in the home, as these animals are their preferred hosts. Unfortunately, when their regular food source isn’t present anymore, the mites will feed on people.
As you can see, that “crawling” feeling we sometimes experience could be due to a myriad of different things. In some situations, the sensation may be due to an environmental or health-associated issue. In others, a pest may be responsible. If you think you may be experiencing a pest issue, contact us for your “no obligation” inspection.