Little Black Bug…BIG Bite

If out in the fields, or around the yard, during these beautiful fall afternoons, you may have experienced very unpleasant bites on exposed skin. The big surprise is how tiny these black bugs are, barely visible without magnification. Too, I have been attempting some exterior painting on our house this fall. Start too early on these cool mornings, the paint doesn’t flow well. Wait until warmup, then these black bugs are not only biting but getting into the newly painted surfaces. Their stuck bodies create an undesirable contrast to the white paint I am using!

The insidious flower bug, Orius insidiosus, (got to love that name) is present throughout the growing season, as they are common predators of small, soft-bodied insects, such as aphids. Their straw-like mouthpart sucks fluids from prey, so their habit is to pierce objects to determine if they are a good meal. Apparently, there was an abundance of aphids/mites/trips nearby that has declined with the cooler temperatures. Now these bugs are foraging for a final feast before wintering in protected areas, such as under leaf litter. The good news is that while “biting” (poking) you, they aren’t sucking blood or injecting toxins. Those with more sensitive skin have noted welts where bitten. The bad news is the obvious, the little suckers give quite a bite, and they seem to be attracted to fresh paint!

Some have tried using insect repellent while working outdoors, most with little success. Probably because these bugs are most active when you are, meaning perspiration lessens the effect of the repellent and actually makes you more attractive to the hungry insects. As for my painting, the forecasted temperatures for frost by this weekend will hopefully convince them to bed down for the winter, giving me enough time to finish before the snow flies.

 

Tiny insidious flower bug “biting” my hand.

Tiny insidious flower bug “biting” my hand.

 

Closeup of insidious flower bugs attracted to freshly painted surface.

Closeup of insidious flower bugs attracted to freshly painted surface.

 

Insidious flower bugs adding contrast and texture to my painted house siding.

Insidious flower bugs adding contrast and texture to my painted house siding.

 

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