Across the country, children both young and old are preparing to celebrate another evening of Halloween, filled with costumes, activities, sweet treats and fun with friends. In fact, in 2021 alone, over 42 million kids between the ages of 5 and 14 went trick-or-treating, according to the latest data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
But beyond the one night that adults will undoubtedly spot child-sized creepy crawlers scurrying along the sidewalks and near brightly decorated homes and in doorways, many actual insects and arachnids are also lurking all year long.
Parents and caregivers often have questions about what to do if their child gets bit or stung, and when to watch for signs of infection. On the Pulse compiled some resources below to help families stay safe and healthy.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites typically cause itchy, red bumps and are usually less than ½ inch in size. Though some can appear larger and look like hives, this is a normal reaction to a bed bug. The size of the hive does not necessarily mean that a bite is infected, and bed bugs do not carry any infectious diseases. Learn more here.
There are more than 50 spiders in the U.S. that have venom. Most spider bites cause local pain, redness and swelling at the bite site, which can last for one or two days. Most bites cause reactions that are not serious and often resemble a bee sting, though some spiders, such as the Black Widow, can cause a more severe reaction. Learn more here.
There are 170 species of mosquito in North America. Bites from these insects cause itchy, red bumps that often look like hives and most commonly occur on exposed parts of the body such as the face and arms. Bites on the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye and may last for several days, especially in small children. Though rare, mosquitoes in the U.S. and Canada can carry serious blood-borne diseases like West Nile Virus (WNV), whereas in Africa and South America, they can carry malaria and yellow fever. Learn more here.
Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting
Over 95 percent of stings are from honey bees or yellow jackets. The main symptoms include pain, itching, swelling and redness at the sting site and a burning sensation that typically lasts for a few hours, often followed by itching. Swelling can sometimes last for 48 hours and varies in size. Bee stings can also turn red for up to three days, but this is not an indicator of infection, which is rare with these kind of stings. Learn more here.
Fire Ant Sting
Colonies of fire ants live in small mounds of dirt that are typically around 6 inches tall and are found throughout various regions in the U.S. The main symptoms of a fire ant sting are pain, burning, swelling and redness at the sting site. Approximately 1 to 2% of children experience a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis within two hours of a fire ant sting. Learn more here.
There are around 40 types of scorpions in the U.S., most of them active at night. All scorpion stings cause pain, tingling and numbness at the sting site. There is often no swelling or redness around the sting, but pain can be severe for the first two hours with symptoms starting to fade in 24 hours. Most people will not see any serious symptoms from a scorpion sting, but if they do occur, they will likely start in the first two or three hours after the sting. Learn more here.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
- Bed Bug Bite (seattlechildrens.org)
- Spider Bite (seattlechildrens.org)
- Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting (seattlechildrens.org)
- Mosquito Bite (seattlechildrens.org)
- Fire Ant Sting (seattlechildrens.org)
- Scorpion Sting (seattlechildrens.org)
- Wound Infection (seattlechildrens.org)
- Insect Sting Allergies – HealthyChildren.org