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9 Most Annoying Insects

Bugs That Really Bug Us

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As much as I like insects, I'll slap a mosquito without thinking twice. Sure, they all have a place in the bigger scheme of things, but some insects can be really annoying. If it buzzes your ears incessantly, persists in biting you, or takes up residence in your home, you're probably not feeling the love for that particular insect. Based on a very unscientific poll, these are the nine insects people find most annoying.

1. Mosquitoes

A female mosquito taking a blood meal from a human host.
CDC/ James Gathany

Why Mosquitoes Annoy Us:

  • itchy, red bites
  • annoying buzzing sounds
  • carriers of disease

Female mosquitoes need blood to develop and lay their eggs, and really don't mean anything personal when they attack. That's no consolation if you're the one being bitten, of course. The mosquito bite itself isn't horribly painful, and may even go unnoticed. The truly annoying part of being a mosquito meal comes in the hours and days to follow, when those red, itchy bumps make us reach for the calamine lotion. As an added annoyance, mosquitoes like to buzz around your head, letting you know another bite is coming shortly.

Mosquito Control at Home – What Works and What Doesn't

2. Fleas

Fleas annoy people and pets alike.
Photo: © Getty Images/Martin Ruegner

Why Fleas Annoy Us:

  • tough-to-tackle infestations
  • itchy bites on pets and people

If you ask Fido or Fluffy, fleas are the most annoying insect of all. Both flea sexes live on blood, and man's best friend can quickly be covered in scabby bites. Even more annoying, fleas drop their eggs to the ground as your pet walks around, so a few fleas quickly becomes a houseful of fleas. Once your home is infested, it takes a war on many fronts to destroy the enemy insects. Oh, and if you live in an apartment building or townhouse, there's a good chance you'll share your fleas with the neighbors, too.

Flea Control - On Your Pet and In Your Home

3. No-See-Ums

A legion of biting midges attacks.
Photo: Flickr user LHOON (CC-SA license)

Why No-See-Ums Annoy Us:

  • painful bites
  • group attacks

No-see-ums can take the fun out of a hike or camping trip pretty quickly. The name no-see-um is just one nickname for the biting midge; some people call these nuisances punkies, sandflies, or midgies. Whatever the name, these insects do have the annoying habit of biting us – hard. Biting midges use highly specialized mouthparts to grasp your skin, puncture a hole in you, spit some saliva into the wound, and feed on your blood. No-see-ums live near water, since their larvae are aquatic. They're so tiny they can pass right through ordinary window screens – thus the name "no-see-um."

4. House Flies

Fly paper proves again that flies don't learn.
Photo: ThisParticularGreg (CC-SA license)

Why House Flies Annoy Us:

  • nasty habits
  • tendency to hang out on our food
  • disease carriers

Nearly every meal I've eaten outdoors has been a choreographed ballet of biting my food and then swatting away the flies trying to land on my food. Flies don't learn, it seems. No matter how many times you swat them away, they come back. House flies do come indoors, too, of course, and transmit quite a few diseases, so they aren't insects you really want around. What makes house flies truly annoying pests is their habit of regurgitating and excreting each and every time they land. House flies feed on all kinds of lovely things like excrement and open wounds. Then they land on your arm and let it all out, from both ends.

Controlling Flies in the Home

5. Ants

Ants will play follow the leader until they find your food, and won't leave until your food is gone.
Photo: Flickr user keeping it real (CC-SA license)

Why Ants Annoy Us:

  • kitchen invasions
  • touch-to-tackle infestations
  • large colonies

Ants come in many flavors: Pharoah, fire, thief, carpenter, odorous, crazy, little black, and more. Ants annoy us by appearing, uninvited, in our homes and refusing to leave. Worse yet, ants often lay pheromone trails to the food source they have discovered, effectively inviting all their friends to the party. Some ants go beyond annoying, actually damaging our homes or possessions. Carpenter ants make nests in the structural timbers of buildings, while crazy raspberry ants are known for wandering into appliances and causing electrical shorts. Odorous house ants leave a foul smell behind when you crush them - the ultimate revenge.

6. Biting Flies

Painful bites plus relentless attacks equals one seriously annoying insect.
Photo: © Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Why Biting Flies Annoy Us:

  • painful bites
  • persistent attacks

I once quit a job because of biting flies. While knocking on doors for an environmental group, I found myself literally covered in greenhead flies, all of them biting me. I dropped my clipboard and resigned. Biting flies include horse flies, deer flies, and other members of the Tabanid family. Biting flies feed on mammal blood, usually during the daylight hours, which is precisely when you are likely to be outdoors enjoying yourself. Repellents do little or nothing to stop their feasting, since flies primarily use visual clues to find their targets.

7. Bed Bugs

Yes, bed bugs are real bugs - here's what they look like.
Photo: Flickr user JLplusAL

Why Bed Bugs Annoy Us:

  • sneak attacks while we're sleeping
  • tough-to-tackle infestations
  • really itchy bites

They're baa-ack! Bed bugs were thought to be a pest of the past, but recently they've been turning up in apartments and condos all over the place. Nobody's rolling out the welcome mat for these nasty critters, which feed on our blood while we sleep. Bed bugs may be happily feeding on you for weeks before you start to feel the effects. When a bed bug bites, it leaves a little of its saliva behind under your skin. Over time, your body becomes sensitized, and you start to experience itchy allergic reactions. Like fleas, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of, and can quickly spread to adjoining residences.

8. Cockroaches

The only good cockroach is a dead cockroach.
Photo: Flickr user *saipal

Why Cockroaches Annoy Us:

  • prolific breeders
  • disease carriers
  • allergy agents

Cockroaches are just plain gross. There's something unnerving about turning on a light in the middle of the night, and seeing dozens of creepy looking insects running for cover. You just can't help but wonder what they were doing. Unlike many home invaders, cockroaches stay year-round, meaning some form of intervention will be needed to keep your home from being overrun. Cockroaches are known to carry disease-causing organisms, and are second only to dust for causes of allergy attacks in the home.

9. Ticks

Any bug that crawls up your legs and then sucks your blood makes the annoying insects list.
Photo: Flickr user SuperFantastic

Why Ticks Annoy Us:

  • hard to remove
  • sneak attacks
  • bloodsuckers

Ticks are opportunistic, waiting in the tall grass for a hapless human to pass by. As soon as a tick senses the movement of some living thing brushing against its perch, it dashes to hitch a ride. The nasty hanger-on then tries to make its way to a warm, moist place on your body (no more explanation needed). If you're lucky, you'll find the hideaway before it penetrates your skin and blows up like a balloon on your blood. Some ticks, which are arachnids and not insects, carry serious diseases. The blacklegged tick, aka deer tick, transmits Lyme disease and is so small it can pass for a freckle.

10 Tips to Avoid Ticks

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