Bug bites and treatment | Healthing.ca


Summer weather can mean more time outside. But whether you are out on a hiking trail, enjoying a park in the city, or at the beach, there’s one small nuisance that can be hard to avoid: bugs.

Late spring to early summer is the worst time of the year for bugs in many parts of Canada. Here’s a look at the different kinds of insects you may encounter and how about treat and prevent bites.


The ever-annoying mosquito.

These ubiquitous pests are painfully familiar to most people. Mosquitos are active from May to August and lay their eggs in ponds, puddles left over from melted snow and stagnant water in things like bird baths and rain barrels. It should be standard practice to remember to remove standing water on your property to help keep populations down.

Mosquitoes can also carry viruses and diseases like West Nile, Malaria and Zika. While rare, West Nile is the most prevalent illness carried by mosquitoes in Canada, but 80 per cent of those infected are asymptomatic and fewer than 1 per cent experience dangerous symptoms, according to Animalogic.

There are a few different options for preventing bites. Wearing hats, long sleeves and pants can help, but the best way to stop the little blood suckers is to use insect repellant containing DEET. One study showed DEET-based repellents can provide up to 300 minutes of protection. Make sure to read the labels as children under 12 should not be exposed to high concentrations of DEET. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is a natural alternative to DEET, but it will not last as long.

You will see more mosquitoes at dawn or dusk when it is cooler and more humid outside. After-bite lotion, anti-itch creams and camomile lotion can be used to treat bites. The sooner you treat them, the better.


ticks canada

Many Canadians are noticing the creep of ticks into the country.

If you own a dog or cat, you have almost certainly had a conversation about ticks. These little pests carry Lyme disease and can infect pets and humans alike. Ticks are more prevalent in certain areas of Canada and often live in tall grass and wooded areas. The government of Canada recommends tucking pants into socks and shirts into pants if walking through forested areas and using DEET products to aid in prevention. A tick will latch onto its host and bury its head into the skin. They can be removed safely with tweezers. If you live in an area where ticks are common, make sure to do full-body checks of yourself and your pets to make sure the tick is removed as soon after the bite as possible.

Horse flies, black flies and deer flies

horse fly

A horse fly bite can hurt quite a bit.

While certainly painful and annoying, bites from these bugs are harmless. They are commonly found in northern Ontario and the northern Prairies and are at their worst in May, June and July. DEET products or other repellents can be used to help prevent bites, but that won’t prevent them from swarming and buzzing around your head. Wear a hat, full sleeves, and pants if you’re going to be out on the water or in a wooded area where they’re present – these buggers won’t bother you indoors.

Bees and wasps


Wasps tend to be thinner in shape than bees.

Wasps like to congregate around food and garbage bins while bees stick to gardens. Avoid scented body washes and shampoos to avoid attracting bees. Neither of these insects can be deterred by insect repellent, so avoidance is key.

Neither insect “bites” humans, but both can sting you. Bees leave their stinger inside the skin, which can be removed carefully with your fingernail. Using tweezers might squeeze out venom. Wasps do not leave their stingers behind and both types can be treated with soap and water. Ice packs may reduce swelling and over-the-counter medicine can ease the pain.

Be aware that both can also cause severe allergic reactions that can be deadly for some people. If you don’t know whether you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, make sure to know the signs of an anaphylactic reaction, which include difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, hives, nausea, swelling and a loss of consciousness. Multiple stings can be particular harmful in children. If you are finding it hard to breathe or have swelling lips, go to the emergency room right away or call an ambulance.

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