Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

National Moth Week photos of insects and people. Here's how to add your images.

Photos of insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Bitten by Bug: Nobody knows what it is???

Hi everyone. I've been searching everywhere trying to find out what this is that bit me...that's how I wound up here. I'm in Orlando. Talked to the entomologist for Agriculture Dept who said it sounded like a "bark beetle", but pictures on here don't coincide with this. It's about the size of an ant. Looks like it had wings. Has curved "pinchers" at front of head. Appears to be light brown, but hard to tell because it's has all kinds of stuff on it's it's carrying a mountain of debris. It's been in a plastic back on a piece of paper since Sunday and it's "still alive".

Bit me in the back of the leg causing a swelling somewhat like a red ant bite, but worse. Caused intense burning all over my leg in different areas. Now treating with prescription antibiotic cream. Does ANYBODY KNOW what this could be, or if not where I can go to find out???? Thank you so much for any assistance!

Another possiblility
Is the Antlion Larvae. It causes the reaction you've described, but also does not have wings, and as far as I know doesn't pile garbage upon its back. See this site.

Nope, not an Antlion
It definitely has all that debris...looks like tiny pieces of wood all over it's back...just jumbled the picture. You can't even see the shape of the body cause there's so much stuff on top, until you see the underside...which is exactly like the picture for the brown lacewing larva.

sounds like a lacewing larva, seen here , but I've never heard of one biting before. The references I've seen say they do not bite or sting. You could take the bug to your county extension office if you have one. If you could post a picture here, that would be great too.

Found another picture
Hi Lynette....found this pictue. The "rounded" shaped one is exactly how the body looks on the bottom. Take a look...

Thanks to you I was able to go to lacewing larva and find this one of the brown lacewing larva also known as "trash bugs"...but says they are rarer than the green lacewing and they "don't bite".

Maybe I've stumbled onto a "new discovery"...albeit a "painful" discovery. Are you an entomologist?? Because you're great that you knew what this was just from my description. I can't thank you least now it'll stop buggging me (no pun intended) as to what this thing is.....

Not an entomologist
I wouldn't jump to any conclusions yet. There are a few things that don't add up with your bug. First, like mentioned below, lacewing larvae don't have wings. Second, I think they are common enough that someone would have figured out if they sting or bite. Also, do you think that it's possible something else stung you (flying insect) and flew off leaving the lacewing to take the rap? Finally, there may be some other bug that I am not familiar with that looks very similar to the lacwing larva. I would love to see some pictures. :)

No Wings
Sorry, upon a closer look it isn't wings...just some of the debris...wood, etc that's piled up on it's back. Lynette, did you happen to check out that link. It must be this because viewing it from the bottom looks "exactly" like the example of the underside of the "rounded" species. It was definitely a bite from this. I was sitting in my adirondack reading on the deck and then I felt a sharp "sting"...looked down immediatley & it was on my leg. Brushed it off and then got it on a piece of paper & into a plastic ziplock.

There was immediate stinging so used an insect bite stick on my leg. At the time I wasn't sure exactly where the bite was because mark...and stinging radiated in many directions. But 2nd day a red mark and off & on intense burning. Third day...more swollen and hard lump...and burning I took action & got to the doctor.

Thank You Lynette
Oh my goodness....I think that's it!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! You're incredible.

Today, for the 1st time, it's upside down in the bag so I got a look at the shape of it's body which is rounded, sort of gray, has little spikes coming off the back with pinchers in front & legs in front (like the picture) that are sort of furry and the wing coloration is almost like a monarch butterfly.

Lacewing Larva...does that mean it's not fully developed...larva as in "new born", or is this just terminology! Sorry, I'm not very familiar with bugs & terminology.

My landscaper was fascinated by it. Said he thought he has seen this before...but around the woods. Didn't think they bite either. And Thursday just happened to be the day for the Terminex guy and he said he's never seen this before...

But yes, it looks like the picture...And yes, believe does BITE!! I got bit last Sunday and still red & swollen. The burning sensation I was having is alike to somebody putting a hot iron on your leg...and not just in the bite area (back of leg above heel / achilles tendon)...on top of foot, knee area, leg calf...all over + muscle spasms.

Wonderful time for this to happen, when I'm leaving for Ireland next week...Any other info on this insect would be very helpful. Thank you so much again....

I would not think it could be the larva, they don't have wings. I don't think they are that rare, I have been getting alot of the brown adults coming to my lights

Green lacewing larva.
As far as I know, BROWN lacewing larvae are not "trash carriers," but many of the green lacewing larvae exhibit that behavior. We have had at least one prior question in this forum from someone else who claims to have been bitten by a lacewing larva. I don't consider this too far-fetched. Lacewing larvae are predators that inject potent enzymes to pre-digest their prey, and probably to paralyze it so it doesn't struggle. That kind of chemical cocktail could certainly cause a bad reaction for a sensitive person. I'll try and remember to query my entomology listserv (professional entomologists from around the world), and see if anyone is familiar with this.

To Eric
Eric, I apologize...I had no idea you are an entomologist. There are just so many posters on here who are interested in nature that it's difficult to know who is actually in the profession of entomology. It wasn't much help at the University of Florida Agric. extension, but then again the don't have an entomologist on staff. Sorry & thanks again for any help.

Lacewing Larva
Eric...thank you so much. Any info would be greatly appreciated. I'm heading over to the University of Florida Agriculture extension today. They don't have an entomologist on staff...only "master gardeners", so this may be futile...but worth a try. If you have contacts with any entomologist that would be great. Please let me know if you find out anything....thank you again.

Eric is an entomologist (a very good one, I might add), but there are so many kinds of insects out there that no one could learn even close to everything about all of them. With any luck he'll get in touch with someone who specializes in Neuroptera who might have an answer.

Chuck, thank you....I had no idea. I did take it in, but nobody there seems to know...but then again, none of them were entomologists. Just a horticulture specialist who will try to get a pick of it & send it off for possible identification. If I find out anything I'll let you know. Meanwhile, it's back to the doctor for me cause the bacatran antibiotic cream is not really helping...started to, but now doing nothing. Ugh...can't believe this little minute thing caused this much harm.

What other entomologists say.
I finally remembered to query my listserv of international entomologists about bites from lacewing larvae. Apparently it is not an uncommon phenomenon, certainly not unknown (except to me I guess:-)
No worries, no one has ever become seriously ill from a lacewing larva bite. Just uncomfortable! Aside, I consider myself a writer and illustrator who has studied entomology and happens to know a fair amount about insects and arachnids, thanks mostly to mentors of the past, present, and future. I am a lifelong student, certainly:-)

i have confirmed lacewing larvae bite. :-(
I can vouch for being bitten by the little varmit. I looked down and there was this little green dude that looked kinda like a ladybug larvae but green ... and the little ** was biting me. So, I asked my friend, and yup, it was a lacewing larva. I did not hurt him, but dang. Red and swollen and itches. Will go to the dr. tomorrow.

I'm curious ... how'd it all come out? It's been months.

Results from my Lacewing Larva Bite
Hi Ellen...well, at first the Dr. gave me an antibiotic cream to apply to the area. Nope, did absolutely NO GOOD. I actually started getting Very Bad allergic reactions to the bite. At times my foot & leg would feel like they were "on fire", but never in the area of the bite (by the Achilles tendon) just the entire front of my leg, or my whole foot. Burning like it had been set on fire...but from within and on the top of the skin. Went back to the Dr. and he gave me a 10 day supply of antibiotic pills. That helped the burning & itching, but it took over a month for the swelling & redness to go away.

I had saved the bug in a plastic zip-lock to try to get to someone who could identify it. But with all the pain & Dr. appts' it wasn't until a week later that I was able to get to the University of FLA Agriculture Dept. Do you believe it that bug lived for 6 days after being in that plastic bag, but started to decompose so they couldn't give me an exact identification. But I'm SURE it was the above as it looked EXACTLY like the picture that somebody sent in the above thread. Do yourself a favor & get on some antibiotics. What a horrible experience. Hope you start feeling better...

Antibiotics... nothing for an allergic reaction, which your doctor should know. While heat and redness are symptoms associated with bacterial infections (for which antibiotics might be useful) they're also associated with any inflammatory process including an allergic reaction to foreign proteins (which is what the bug injected into you--digestive enzymes are proteins.)

I realize this is off-topic, and I'll be brief--but antibiotics can actually obscure what's going on, if used when not needed. When a bite is the source of the problem, it should be treated for an allergic response first, with antibiotics being added if and only if there are other signs of infection (and ideally with a culture to determine what bacteria, and its sensitivity, since overuse of antibiotics has produced multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria.)

Leaving aside anaphylaxis (the life-threatening form of allergic reaction, and a medical emergency) there are three main ways to cope with allergic reactions to insect bites: antihistamines (which block the release of histamine from your own cells and thus prevent or lessen inflammation), anti-inflammatories (such as aspirin or ibuprofen--not acetaminophen, which doesn't work the same way) that both relieve pain and lessen histamine release, and corticosteroids, that suppress the inflammatory response to everything (and thus can mask infections--they lower your immune system's response.)

A competent doctor should be able to suggest a sequence of anti-inflammatory treatments for an allergic reaction--telling you what you can get over the counter and keep on hand, how to tell when you need to come in for something heftier, etc.


Junk bug- lacewing larva
Regarding the "wings" on the Junk Bug-- I found one today that looked like it had wings among all the debris on its back, but I believe they must have been wings from one of their victims!!

Yes indeed!
These little moving piles of fluff were slightly cuter before I read that the debris mostly consisted of the bodies of their victims. And now that I know they can bite me as well, I'll admire them from a greater distance.

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.