Bitten by bugs at night, NOT BEDBUGS [a: looks like American spider beetle](10 posts)
As you said (and most will agree), the "bugs" you found are not bed bugs. We'll wait for an expert to weigh in on what they are.
People develop "bite"-like reactions to many things, so you are not necessarily being bit or reacting to the critters you have photographed. It may be something else, perhaps even outside your home.
I get them in my bed at night, though. I'll notice that it's itchy wherever the bite is, but not see any mark, but then the next morning I see a mosquito-sized bite. Within 48 hours its huge, swollen and pink. I thought it might be an American spider beetle, but those apparently don't bite. I'm also guessing what I have is an allergic reaction and not a typical bite. When I got the first few bites a few weeks ago (they were scattered over my arm, quite far apart), I went to the ER and they didn't know. I just got a couple more a few nights ago and they are still itchy. These are the only two incidences, but you can tell they are bites rather than allergic reactions to food, etc, because there are bite spots in the centre of the welts.
That insect looks like a spider beetle, probably Mezium americanum. It's very different from a bed bug and also from a shiny spider beetle (Gibbium aequinoctiale).
I have those on my image site http://www.flickr.com/photos/lou_bugs_pix/4637122797/in/photostream
I have seen people develop "bite like" skin responses from both dead and alive samples of similar species. I have concluded int he past that the fine hairs may be acting in the same way as carpet beetle larval hairs.
I would cross reference information on them and see if that resolves the issue.
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So would the hairs of the spider beetle and the carpet beetle be similar (although presumably less irritating) as the hairs of the tarantula in this recent news story?
Yes and No.
Yes in the fact that they are fibers that cause irritation but int he case of tarantulas they appear to have evolved to have more of a defensive (aggressive) function.
In the case of spider beetles and carpet beetles it appears that the attraction to humans is mediated through a static attraction rather than a deliberate defense mechanism.
So would it be accurate to say that the tarantula can "spray" its hairs much like a skunk can spray its...um, odorous...liquid, while that of the beetles would be more like a porcupine where contact with the hairs (or quills, in the case of a porcupine) would need to occur?
The physiology of the tarantula hairs sounds similar to that of the porcupine quill, though.
No, the tarantula is like the skunk in that it can expel hairs with some force.
The carpet beetle hairs are just like something that the pest industry calls cable or paper mites. The material only comes into contact with people as a result of static attraction where the human is akin to the magnet with the hairs being the iron filings.
In the tarantula this has evolved as a defensive biology, with carpet beetles it has no evolutionary purpose, in fact the organism has no idea this has even happened as its the dead material that causes the reaction.
The writer of the story doesn't understand the mechanism: "the Rose Hair tarantula .... shot tiny barbed hairs into their son’s eye — a little-known defence mechanism other than the poisonous bite most people fear."
The urticating hairs (setae) of tarantulas may consist of up to 7 different types; depends on tarantula species. Basically the urticating seta is on a pedicel and the setae are kicked or brushed by action of the hind leg of the tarantula, the movement of which breaks the connection of the urticating seta and the pedicel. These loose setae blend into a cloud. Certain tarantulas don't kick, but brush or push the hairs from the sides of the abdomen; the Chilean Rose being one of these. Although specimens will sometimes slow kick the hairs. Other tarantulas belonging to the genus Aphonopelma, Brachypelma or Theraphosa vigorously kick. Kicking produces a bald spot and molting gives the spider a new lease on life, the new exocuticle has a new complement of the thousands of the urticating hairs in addition to all other cuticular setae, receptors, etc. Legs also can be replaced if these have been lost. The adult female tarantula lives many years (some over 25) and has post adult molts. The sperm receptacle also is replaced with the shedding process, the old one is in the shed skin, so the female tarantula is effectively a virgin now. Some of the other urticating hair types are not on the abdomen but on other parts of the body, a section of the palp, for instance, in a tarantula species.
"In the tarantula this has evolved as a defensive biology, with carpet beetles it has no evolutionary purpose, in fact the organism has no idea this has even happened as its the dead material that causes the reaction."
The beetle larva's use of its hastisetae is actually a defensive move. The group of setae are flexed so as to produce a large brush used in a defensive posture. The brush is especially seen in species of Anthrenus and also Trogoderma. I don't believe they are on Attagenus species. There are other body setae (spinulose setae or spicisetae) and these may also be involved with the physical nature of the dermatitis. Also just being a foreign protein elicits the host response and the dermatitis is produced.
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