Being Bitten but cannot see any Bugs?


Are you feeling itchy? Can you see any red patches or what looks like bite marks on your skin? Do not jump into conclusions. If you are being bitten by insects you should easily be able to find these insects in your home. If you cannot see any insects in the rooms where you are being bitten, you are probably following the wrong track.

Many factors can result in skin conditions which can easily be interpreted as "bug bites". But if you cannot find the bugs, you should check other environmental and physiological factors.

Scenario 1: Bites inflicted by larger insects and arthropods

There are indeed insects or other arthropods in Ireland that can bite you, such as Bedbugs, mosquitoes, Fleas, Bird Mites, spiders. When this happens you should be able to identify and capture some of these bugs in the rooms were you are being bitten.

1. Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes are found near stagnating water (pound) and resting in houses on higher part of walls and ceilings. Mosquito bites show a puffy white bump that appears whithin a few minutes after the bite. After a day or so, the bump turns reddish-brown and becomes itchy. The bites are in the middle of the swelling:
Mosquito bite illustration
Mosquito bites: Reddish Brown bumps

2. Bedbugs Bites

Some people show no reaction to bed bug bites, while some other display severe reactions. Bedbugs are easy to find: inspect the seams of your mattress at head and feet level. Look for insects and black spot stains. You can check the video on this page to help you find and identify Bedbug bites.
Bedbug bites: Light coloured raised bites. Usually clustered.

3. Flea Bites

Bites often concentrating around ankles. Place white sheet beside pet basket, carpets, sofas etc. After a few minutes fleas will be easily identified after they jump on the white fabric. Check this page to identify fleas.
Flea bites: itching spots raised with a red hole in the middle. Usually spread out.

4. Bird & Rodent Mite Bites

Altough they are tiny little reddish bugs (less than 1mm), mites are usually found in numbers so scrutinise the area where you are being bitten and you should identify them rapidly. The solution to a mite infestation is to get rid of their hosts from your home (rats, mice, bird nests, squirrels, swallows, sparrows, starlings, pigeons, etc.) as the mites only survive a few weeks without their hosts.

bird mite on finger size Bird Mite size relative to a finger

5. Lice Bites

These can be head, body or pubic lice. They measure 1 to 3 mm in length and feed on blood. A close inspection makes them easily apparent.pubic lice
Pubic lice on Skin

Sometimes small debris such as fuzz, carpet fibbers, lint, or crumbs are being mistaken for small insects. It is very important to identify the source of the itchiness or the bites in order to resolve the issue permanently.

If none of the bugs listed above are found, there is no point in spraying insecticide everywhere or fumigating a building, as this will not solve the issue. There are other conditions which can result in feeling itchy or getting bite-like symptoms:

Scenario 2: "Bites" and itchiness not inflicted by insects

1. Scabies (Mites)

Scabies are indeed microscopic itch mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) which burrow under the skin causing an intense itching. The skin rash provoked by Scabies results in small red blisters and bumps.

Scabies are a highly contagious skin condition which can be treated with over-the-counter remedies from your local pharmacist. If not sure ask your doctor to do a skin scraping and indentify the mites with a microscope.

scabies  Scabies Life Cycle
Scabies rash: burrow-like bumps which are tunnels created by female scabies mites for laying eggs

2. Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is a very itchy and blistering skin rash resembling Chicken Pox and Shingles (although it is not contagious). It usually concentrates on the elbows, knees, scalp and buttocks. This rash is usually caused by an allergy to gluten for nonceliac people.

dermatitis herpetiformis skin rash woman Nonceliac Gluten SensitivityExample of skin rash in a nonceliac woman with Gluten Sensitivity

3. Papular Urticaria (skin allergies)

Urticaria or “Hives” is a skin rash resulting in pale red and raised itchy bumps which can be mistaken for insect bites. This includes allergies to enzyme-based detergents, a new shampoo, pet shampoo, washing powder & fabric softeners, creams, soaps, deodorants, perfumes. Urticaria can also be caused by a food allergy, pollens and molds, or even autoimmune diseases, viral infections, sunlight or frictions. A dermatologist should be consulted to identify and resolve the source of Urticaria.

women symptoms itchy urticaria  urticaria on skin

4. Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus (same virus causes chickenpox). People usually have fever, nerve symptoms of pain, burning and itching before the rash appears, consisting of red spots. These spots will then turn into small, fluid-filled blisters and dry up after pprox. 8 days.

Shingles: develop in a band or strip along a particular nerve.

5. Chickenpox

Chickenpox is an infection easy to identify and caused by a virus. It causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters.

boy chicken pox
Boy affected by Chickenpox.

6. Eczematous skin conditions

Eczema is a particular inflammation of the skin which can be mistaken for bites. Some symptoms include red to brownish patches, skin swelling, dryness and itching. The cause of eczema is assumed to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Eczema: Redness with red bumps that leak fluids or bleed when scratched.

7. Medical conditions

Several medical conditions can also result in skin itchiness or the feeling of being bitten. For instance: liver or kidney disease, diabetes, lymphoblastoma, thyroid disorders, pellagra, icterus, etc.

8. Dry air and Static Electricity

Air containing a low humidity at home or in an office can also provide conditions for small static charges to be released through the skin and cause small shocks similar to a bite sensation, which can be aggravated by scratching the area.

9. Delusory parasitosis

Finally, skin conditions and bug bites can also leave their victims distressed and trigger a delusion. It is common for patients to remain convinced they are surrounded by biting bugs living in their ceilings, walls, furniture, clothes, carpet, etc., even after the issue has been fully resolved. In extreme cases skin lesions may be present and are self-inflicted.


It is essential to identify the insect or arthropod before undertaking an insecticide treatment. If you suffer with a skin condition and suspect insect or mites, you should be able to identify them very rapidly. You can get help using Insect Monitoring Traps (click on picture below).

Insect Monitor trap identification

If no insects are visible, you should consult your GP or dermatologist to establish the cause of your skin condition. 

A professional pest controller will never treat a house or office unless an insect has been identified. Spraying insecticide randomly could not only aggravate the problem, but it is also illegal as pesticides can only be used according to their label instructions (i.e. against SPECIFIC pests).

Owl Pest Control only carry out treatments against bugs, insects and arthropods if these have been identified. We do not investigate skin conditions or randomly treat areas where no insects can be found.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as, nor relied upon as, medical or pest control advice.


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