LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska entomologists say they’re getting more calls, questions and complaints about a little bug that packs a big bite.

Minute pirate bugs become more noticeable in the fall, when they move from the woods into backyards and parks in search of food.

The insects are less than one-eighth of an inch long but give a surprisingly painful bite, according to Jonathan Larson, an entomologist with Nebraska Extension in Omaha. He said the bugs aren’t a health risk to humans or animals because they don’t feed on blood or inject venom.

The bite site may swell or turn red for some people but Larson said cortisone cream is a reliable treatment.

Jody Green, entomologist with Nebraska Extension in Lincoln, said she first saw the bugs take over during the Sept. 30 Market to Market Relay, where swarms of pirate bugs pestered runners in the race.

“I can’t tell you why and when they’re going to go away,” Green said. “A lot of it is kind of nature, right?”

Green said that while the bugs can be annoying, they are beneficial because they feed on insects that can be damaging to crops.

To avoid bites, Green suggested that people wear dark, long-sleeved shirts and a buff around their necks. She also said shake the clothing before going inside or using a lint roller, and using a vacuum for any stray bugs that venture inside.

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