Underwater biting bugs

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Andy, Aug 8, 2005.

  1. Andy

    Andy Workin in a sweet mullet

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    I had a guy come into the shop today that has some kind of bug bites all over his legs. He was float-tubing at a local lake without waders. What kind of bugs bite underwater???? Were they dragonfly nymphs? I havent seen anything like that before. They were definitely bites, and not some kind of swimmer's itch. He promptly bought a pair of waders.
     
  2. Tony Mull

    Tony Mull Member

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    water fleas. lol
     
  3. Taxon

    Taxon Moderator Staff Member

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    Giant water bugs and water scorpions inflict a painful bite, but I get the impression your customer wasn't aware of being bitten while in the water, so that probably wasn't it. Leeches would seem more likely from the no-pain aspect, but I would expect some to still be attached, which your customer would surely have noticed.

    If you tell me more specifics about either the circumstances of the biting, or the appearance of the bites, perhaps I can be of more assistance.
     
  4. Andy

    Andy Workin in a sweet mullet

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    The bites looked just like mosquito bites. There were probably 25-30 on each leg. He didnt notice being bitten, but he did realize that it was happening. He was at a warm water lake (San Hollow Reservoir, near St. George, UT). He said the only bugs he noticed on the water were dragonflies. I wish I knew more, or had taken a picture.
     
  5. gbeeman

    gbeeman Active Member

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    I've seen similar bites come from leaches in Lenice. Some of the leaches I found on my fins were no bigger than a match head.

    Gordon
     
  6. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    they could be water boatman? mike w
     
  7. Taxon

    Taxon Moderator Staff Member

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    luv2fly2-

    No, water boatmen don't bite, but backswimmers, a closely related aquatic true bug, do inflict a painful bite. See linked article on biting aquatic bugs.
     
  8. pearguy

    pearguy Member

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    As Taxon said before, the aquatic insects that 'bite' are rather painful, and are not the kind of thing that you would tend to get all over your legs (they would drive you out of the water fast -- such as the notorius 'toe-biter'). I would bet he had swimmer's itch, caused by a trematode carried primarily by aquatic birds. The mosquito bite description fits that best, with raised welts where the parasite entered then skin and expired.
     
  9. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Based on the fact that he didn't feel it at the time, and that there are just so many one each leg, I'm leaning toward this (read below). Does this seem to match what you saw and heard?



    *********************************************************


    Usually within 30 minutes, a small red spot appears at the site where the cercaria [flatworm\parasite] penetrated.

    [​IMG]

    This red spot will continue to increase in size for the next 24-30 hours. The raised, reddened spot is now called a papule. It will continue to itch for up to a week. Papules are limited to areas of the body that get exposed to water because cercariae can not live out of the water. For some species of schistosomes ... toweling off may help; with other species, it will not do any good because the cercariae penetrated the skin while the person was in the water
     
  10. barbless

    barbless Member

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    That looks pretty nassssty.
    I wonder if they can go other places higher up? :eek: Good reason to do waders every time.
    Would you mind telling us which lake he was in?
    Whatever you do, don't scratch it...

    barbless
     
  11. pearguy

    pearguy Member

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    iagree = swimmer's itch
     
  12. Bart

    Bart New Member

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    Darn, just when you thougt it was safe to go to sleep without checking under the bed. Any news on your customer?

    So "swimmer's itch" is a parasitic infection?

    Bart
     
  13. Andy

    Andy Workin in a sweet mullet

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    I thought that swimmers itch was more of a rash, with red blotchy areas. But I dont know for sure, I have never had it. Thats why I wear waders even when the water is warm.

    He was fishing at San Hollow Reservoir, near St. George, UT.

    Andy
     
  14. pearguy

    pearguy Member

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    Yep, swimmer's itch is caused by parasites -- mistaken ones, at that. The adult parasites (a type of flatworm) reside in bird (or sometimes mammal, such as beaver or nutria) hosts and release their eggs into the digestive tract. Those eggs then hatch in the water, and the larvae go looking for snails, their intermediate host. They infect the snails (usually by mouth or burrowing through the integument), then form a sort of reproductive bag (a sporocyst). This sporocyst reproduces to form more sporocysts, then they all form a whole bunch of cercaria (that chadk referred to). These then burrow out of the snail and go in search of a primary host (bird). When they find these, or get eaten by these, they burrow into the blood vessels and migrate around, usually ending up around the intestines. Then they star producing eggs, and the cycle repeats. Parasites are amazing, if you can get past the gross factor.

    So it is the free-living, non-feeding form (cercaria) that burrow into the swimmer's skin, where they die and cause the irritation. Fortunately, humans are not an acceptable host to the species that are in NA. However, if you ever think swimmer's itch is bad, consider if humans were an acceptable host. This is the case of bilharzia (usually just called schistosomiasis), where humans replace the bird host, and it occurs throughout Africa, Asia, and SA. It usually doesn't kill you, but it makes you pretty sick, and is a whole lot worse than a bit of dermatitis.

    A case was made by some ecologists several years ago that parasites drive the system -- when you stop to think about it, they just might rule.