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Minute Pirate Bugs: Tiny Bugs, Big Bite

Minute Pirate Bugs, Acreage Insights October 2017, http://acreage.unl.edu/

An infographic of minute pirate bugs. Minute pirate bugs are about 1/8th inch long with a black body with a brown band. They are oval shaped and the tip of the wings is a white tear-drop shape. They have a piercing-sucking mouth-part on the front of the head which they use to drain prey of their juices. In the summer, pirate bugs are in fields and meadows helping to control pest insects. In the fall they may end up in areas with humans. When they land on you they will probe you with their needle-like mouth. The bite can be quite painful and some people react by developing a large mosquito like bump on their skin. Unfortunately, there are no practical control methods for pirate bugs. Wearing dark, long sleeved clothing when outdoors can help minimize pirate bug attention to you. Insect repellents (DEET, picaridin, lemon-eucalyptus oil) may also provide relief if you are outside for multiple hours. There are also reports that wearing baby oil on the skin will repel pirate bugs.

Minute pirate bugs are about 1/8th inch long with a black body with a brown band. They are oval shaped and the tip of the wings is a white tear-drop shape. They have a piercing-sucking mouth-part on the front of the head which they use to drain prey of their juices. In the summer, pirate bugs are in fields and meadows helping to control pest insects. In the fall they may end up in areas with humans. When they land on you they will probe you with their needle-like mouth. The bite can be quite painful and some people react by developing a large mosquito like bump on their skin. Unfortunately, there are no practical control methods for pirate bugs. Wearing dark, long sleeved clothing when outdoors can help minimize pirate bug attention to you. Insect repellents (DEET, picaridin, lemon-eucalyptus oil) may also provide relief if you are outside for multiple hours. There are also reports that wearing baby oil on the skin will repel pirate bugs.

Minute Pirate Bugs: Tiny Bugs, Big Bite

Image of Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson
Extension Educator - Entomology

Jonathan Larson is the Nebraska Extension entomologist for Douglas and Sarpy counties. His main focus is lawn and landscape pests but he also helps with bed bugs, roaches, and any other home invader that has six or more legs. Jonathan has his Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Purdue University, and his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Kentucky.

Contact Jonathan at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Rd.
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804