Health Officials Look Into Bizarre Bug Bites in Virginia County

Woman applying insect repellent
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Health Department officials guess that it is a mite called pyemotes causing the itchy and lingering bumps.

A growing group of residents of a small county in Virginia is complaining about insect bites that at first glance appear to be from mosquitoes but will later develop into larger and redder bumps.

One woman told WRC-TV that she became concerned after her itchy bug bite started to spread and grow larger than a normal mosquito bite would.

"It started to grow and it swelled, and then I was at work one day and I noticed that it was blistering," Morgan Dailey told the outlet. "I went to my mom and said, 'this doesn't look right to me.'"

Arlington County Health Department authorities are trying to understand what the mysterious bug might be.

"The leading suspect at this point is something called a Pyemote," Health Department spokesperson Kurt Larrick told WJLA-TV.  Larrick speculates that it might be an insect known as pyemote, a member of the mite family that feeds on cicada eggs. 

"So they must be very happy with their food supply at the moment," he added.

After a 17-year hiatus, a specific brood of cicadas known as Brood X, has swarmed across the nation. Most recently, a swarm of cicadas delayed the take-off of the White House press plane as it was destined to follow President Biden for his first international trip.

But other experts beg to differ, speculating that cicadas aren't involved at all.

"The cicadas themselves are going to be just as annoyed by the pyemotes mites as we would be because the pyemotes are generalist. They will eat a lot of different things that happen to be around, including the cicada's eggs," Dr. Samuel Ramset, a USDA entomologist, told WJLA.

Ramsey added that the bites could in fact be from mosquitos and the residents are experiencing a skin infection or an allergic reaction.

A reddish ring around a bite could indicate a tick bite and Lyme Disease. 

"It can be very difficult to see one if they're on you," Ramsey added as he explained pyemotes are able to blend in. 

The remedy? Topical itch creams are recommended. 

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