Mysterious, Nasty Bug Bites Stump Arlington Health Officials

The health department says its best guess is that it's a mite called pyemotes that lives on a diet of oak trees and cicada eggs

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Residents of Arlington County, Virginia, are complaining about mysterious insect bites with a nasty looking bump that itches and lingers.

Morgan Dailey quickly realized her itchy bug bite was not the work of a mosquito.

“Then it started to grow and it swelled, and then I was at work one day and I noticed that it was blistering," she said.

"I went to my mom and said, ‘This doesn't look right to me,’" she said.

Her mother agreed.

"We have five children,” Betsy Withycombe said. “I've seen a lot of different types of bites. This looks unlike anything I had ever seen before."

She posted about it online and quickly learned her daughter wasn't alone.

“We're now at 158 comments and more coming," Withycombe said.

"It was really itchy the first day, then it stopped. Then every day since it's spread more and more and more," said Michele Donner, who also was bitten.

Red blotches surround the bite.

“And it was really hard underneath, too,” Donner said. “It was like this big lump."

The Arlington County Health Department said it doesn't really know what it is. The best guess is that it's a mite called pyemotes that lives on a diet of oak trees and cicada eggs.

"The fact that it's affecting people across the region, the fact that the timing is consistent with the cicadas and the fact that the bite is unlike any other bite, it makes sense to me that that would be the case," Withycombe said.

The pests are stealthy and microscopic in size so they can’t be detected.

The health department said pyemotes bites are not serious, but avoid scratching the bites so they don't get infected.

The health department recommends taking the same precautions that are recommended for mosquitos: long clothing and bug spray.

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