Saturday, May 8, 2010

Insects and Especially BITING Insects

It was two weeks ago today that I was badly bitten in the garden. I'd been out to plant some seeds - I know it's a bit late to be planting seeds, but honestly the weather has been atrocious this year - loads of really cold miserable days!
Anyway, it was sunny and I was planting seeds. I actually planted Ipomea - a nice multi-colored variety - and they've all come through already. Unfortunately the snails have eaten nearly all of them at the nice juicy two-leaf stage. Hmmm...
A stray seed fell on the back of my hand. Even at the time, I was wondering "How on Earth did that happen?"
Without another thought I brushed it off - and it bit me!!!

Now we all know seeds don't bite. This was an insect - small, black or dark in colour - about the same size as the seeds - and by the way these Ipomea seeds I've got a tiny - not like the usual bigger Morning Glory seeds. Before I'd left the house in the kitchen, I'd atempted to score the seeds with a knife as you do wtih Morning Glory, but I gave up. They were too small.

Immediately, blood welled up and out of the tiny wound which actaully hurt really badly too, so whatever bit had serrated teeth - ok I know little biting insects don;t have teeth - they have a proboscus which is a needle-like projection especially designed to insert under the skin of animals to suck blood.

Just Starting to Swell
A lot of small insects from the family diptera (this includes mosquitoes) suck blood. It is always the female who does it and Mother Nature built them that way - whether we like it or not -they need a special protein which is in blood in order to produce eggs.

Isn't nature wonderful? If God or whoever designed all creatures on Earth, why on Earth did these poor buggers get lumbered with this difficulty? Can you imagine if humans had to do the same thing? Might put an end to all those teenage pregnancies - just keep the girls away from the blood and they'll be fine :)

Anyhow, I digress.

I have some interesting photos of the wound as it started to swell. Did I mention that I get a really bad reaction from insect bites? Not a hospital emergency-type reaction like some people get with bees and wasps - but a horrible local skin reaction.
Can it Swell Any More?

That night I woke up scratching like mad. Mosquitoes bites are itchy but this one is ridiculous! Worse than the itch was the swelling which quickly spread from a localised area on the back of my hand, down to my fingertips, round the palm and all the way up my arm to my elbow.
 And I didn't like the big red streaks that appeared on my skin on the inside of my arm just under the elbow.

That was on the Saturday/night. On the Sunday, I couldn't move my hand at all. I could wiggle my fingertips a little and that was it, so of course I couldn't get dressed. Patiently I waited all day for the swelling to start going down. I obviously couldn't type. One-handed only works until you need to capitalise a letter. Yeah I know I could use caps lock, then unlock it again, but no I can honestly say Sunday was a day of not writing online.

Can't Move it Now
I debated going to emergency care, especially as my fingers kept turning blue. It really felt like the blood supply had been cut off - my hand was so swolen and tight.

Chose not to, because I was convinced the swelling would start to go down at some stage, and that it was just a matter of waiting.

Oh and yes, if you ever find yourself in the same position as me, keep your hand raised as much as possible. The theory behind that is to try and drain off the fluid in the tissues.  I did. And all that night, which was a long night as I couldn't sleep with one hand stuck in the air. The pain by this time was horrendous. It was painful/itchy, if you know what I mean. I couldn't stand anything to touch it, like the bed clothes, so sleeping wasn't really an option.
I also didn't feel too well.

Both hands for comparison. Couln't type :(
Monday morning saw me at thelocal doctor's surgery, where I got a steroid injection, a prescription for antihistamines, antibiotics and a steroid cream to soothe the itch,and a severe warning that the next time I get bitten to go straight for emergency care as it is obvious I have an allergy.

Despite that, it still took two days to start to subside, and now two weeks later I'm still getting headaches, which I suppose is a residual effect of whatever toxins the beastie injected into me.

In conclusion, always wear insect sprays like Autan if you are allergic to insect bites, while working in a Spanish garden.


  1. I've followed your links. It looks and sounds very much like the mosca negra, or black fly, which is becoming more and more common in Spain. I've had similar bites, they are horrible, but you obviously have an allergic reaction.

  2. Hi Jan:)
    I'm sorry for not getting back to your sooner - believe it or not this is the first time I have seen your post (it was hidden for some reason). Thanks very much for that. mosca negra eh? Off to google it...

  3. Oh Izzy! I can't believe you waited so long before going for medical treatment - do be careful!