Biting or Stinging Insects in the UK and How to Prevent a Bite or a Sting

most dangerous pest in the world

Insects are the most spread pests in the UK and there are so many types, classes and millions of them that we cannot get rid of them forever. Insects are not only annoying but they can also be contaminated or the worst to bite or sting.

In this article, we will take a look at the most common insect species in the UK which can bite or sting and how to protect yourself not to become their victim. 

Biting Crawling Insects in the UK

Bed Bugs Bites

Bed bugs are one of the most common biting insects in the UK. They are tiny bugs that can be transferred easily during a trip, second-hand furniture, guests and other ways. Bed bugs are blood-sucking intruders that are attracted to humans and are active during the night. That’s the reason why many people can barely spot and identify the bites the other day. 

Bed bugs bites can occur anywhere on your body. Anyway, there are certain body areas which will more commonly be exposed during the night such as neck, face, arms, legs. 

Bed bugs bites in most cases can cause discomfort and itchiness followed by possible inflammation. Of course, some people might experience other symptoms like:

  • Small red itchy bumps with a clear or dark centre;
  • Zigzag patterns of the bites;
  • Painful feeling;

Fleas Bites

Fleas are another well-known biting insect to UK residents. They are small brown to black bugs that can jump extremely fast and high which makes them invisible in many cases. Fleas usually can be brought at home by pets such as cats or dogs but this doesn’t exclude the possibility to latch onto your socks during a nice walk in the park.

Flea bites on humans can appear around the ankle, feet and legs. Other areas can be the waist or the folds of the elbows and knees. Some of the flea bite symptoms are:

  • Itching;
  • Red marks with halos;
  • Blister around the bite;
  • Rash;

Flea bites can be in clusters of more than three spots or in a line.

Learn also: Flea Bites vs Bed Bug Bites

Ants Bites

The most generally known type of ant in the UK is the black one which is harmless. Anyway, there are the red (fire) ants and the flying ants that can sting. Mostly, if the insects feel threatened, they can attack you. 

But no worries, you will only feel a nip that has fewer toxins than the stings from the wasps or bees. Most commonly, you will notice only a pink bite on your skin

Fire ants’ bites will be felt as a burning sensation that won’t last long. Over the next few days the bitten area will start itching but most of the fire ants stings won’t need any special medication or treatment.


There are rare cases of spider bites and usually, such bites are from the native UK false widow spider. Spider bites are small marks, which can leave a painful sensation. Other symptoms are that the bites can swell and become red. Some people might feel sick or dizzy and an allergic reaction is possible. 

Check more: Where Do Bugs Go in the Winter

Mites Bites

Mites are tiny little arthropods that are present in our everyday life. Usually, you can barely see them with a naked eye but there are different types of mites that exist and can bite you in some way. 

Chigger bites

Chigger bites might occur on your:

  • ankles;
  • waist;
  • armpit.


Scabies can bite you:

  • Underneath your feet
  • Around genitals;
  • Knees;
  • Elbows;
  • Between fingers.

Bird Mites Bites

Bird mites are not picky at all so they can bite you anywhere on your skin. 

So, the most common symptoms of mites bites are:

  • Red marks;
  • Swollen area around the bite;
  • Hard blisters;
  • Itching or pain-like around the bite;
  • Irritation.

Ticks Bites

Ticks are another well-known biting bug in the UK. Once they latch onto you they will move to your armpits, crotch or will hide in your hair. Then, if they like the spot they will bite you and start sucking your blood. Most commonly, tick bites are not harmful but if you have an allergy the following symptoms can occur:

  • Rash;
  • Pain;
  • Swollen area;
  • Shortness of breath (if more serious).

Also, ticks can be highly dangerous as they transmit diseases. One of the most popular is Lyme disease which is a serious bacterial disease and can be difficult to treat. 

Read more: What Bugs Come Out in Spring

Ladybirds Bites

Ladybirds are not known to bite people but they can surprisingly do so. Actually, they have sharp mouthparts which on the other hand won’t cause any serious health issues. There is a certain ladybird type in the UK called the harlequin ladybird which can bite much more often than the other types. The aggressive ones can be distinguished by the white marks on their heads. 

Biting Flying Insects in the UK

Some flying insects are capable of biting humans as well. We will take a look at flies bites and mosquitoes bites which are common in the UK.

Flies Bites

Flies are not as popular as mosquitoes to bite people but they can actually do so. Black flies and horseflies are among the most familiar types of flies that can bite.

Black flies bites

Black flies are common insects in the UK. In some cases, they might bite people by using their mouthparts. Actually, the painful sensation you might experience is due to the fact that they salivate and your skin reacts to it. Black flies bites won’t cause diseases but allergic reactions can be a symptom. Such can be irritation, swelling or bleeding. Most commonly, black flies can bite on the head.

Learn more about Flies

Horseflies bites 

Horseflies are way bigger than black flies and some can have green heads. They similarly to black flies won’t transmit diseases but their bites can be much more painful because horse flies have mandibles that can cut the skin. Most probably if you get bitten by horseflies you might see symptoms such as swollen area, itchiness and redness around the bite. 

Mosquitoes Bites

Mosquitoes are popular biters in the UK. Right after they bite you you might notice a bump which sometimes can have a dot at the centre. In a while, the bitten area will become red, hard and swollen. 

Mosquitoes are known to transmit malaria, a fever that can lead to death and this makes mosquitoes among the most dangerous insects in the world. 

Stinging Insects in the UK

The well-known stingers in the UK are wasps, bees and hornets

Wasps Stings

Wasp stings are very common, especially during spring-summer seasons. The stings are sharp and painful in most cases. Around the stung site redness and itching can occur. Sometimes a white mark with a bump around can appear and usually within several hours the swelling will decrease. People who are not allergic to such stings usually won’t have serious symptoms. 

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Bees Stings

Bee stings are unpleasant as wasp stings are. The reactions to the bees stings may vary from short pain and discomfort to an allergic reaction which can be extremely dangerous. Also, every time you are bitten by bees it can cause different symptoms which can get more severe with every time. 

However, the symptoms that can occur can be:

  • Burning and sharp pain;
  • Swelling around the sting;
  • Redness;

Hornets Stings

Hornets stings can be much more painful and bad than those that wasps leave. The reason is that the hornets stings have a large amount of acetylcholine which makes the sting painful. Unlike bees, hornets (and wasps) can sting multiple times and won’t die after they sting you.

Some certain hornets species can be extremely dangerous to people. Such is the Asian giant hornet which stings can be fatal to people who are allergic to stings. Anyway, the European hornet (which is common in the UK) typically doesn’t cause serious reactions. Some symptoms might be:

  • Immediate sharp pain;
  • Redness and swollen mark;
  • Itchiness. 

How to Prevent Insect Bites

It’s almost impossible to completely escape or protect yourself from insect bites or stings. However, you can minimise the possibility of getting bitten. Here are some of the preventative measures you can take into account to protect yourself:

  • Install nets on doors and windows so that insects (especially flying insects) won’t get inside your property. 
  • Remove trash and exposed food so that insects won’t be attracted to them. 
  • Remove water source as it also attracts insects;
  • Cover your legs with long-sleeved trousers during a walk around high untreated against ticks and fleas grass. 
  • Be cautious around plants, flowers, water or outdoor food as some bugs can crawl or fly around. 
  • Stay calm while a bee, wasp or hornet is close to you. Don’t shake your hands or try to kill them because you might make them angry. 
  • Avoid using strong perfumes, body lotions, deodorants or other aromatic products on your skin or clothes. The scent can attract insects more easily. 
  • Use an insect repellent before going outside. 
  • If you come across a nest (ants, bees, wasps etc) never disturb it as the insects will feel threatened and most probably will attack you. 


Whatever insect bites or stings you, don’t panic. Most of the time they are not dangerous. Anyway, if you feel much more serious symptoms and they won’t go away for days (and even get worse) always search for medical help. Don’t experiment at home, especially with severe reactions! Also, we highly recommend you to book a professional pest control if you have any crawling or flying insect infestation or you’ve seen a wasp nest around. The experts will treat the infested areas with powerful products and will prevent the possibility of getting bitten by the nasty bugs.

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