Subject: Stabby the Bug
Location: San Francisco, CA
August 3, 2014 5:57 pm
My wife felt something biting her in bed and caught this guy red- proboscis-ed. We live in San Francisco, California (west Side, nearish the ocean). The bug is about 3-4mm and has a long proboscis which is why I named it “Stabby rather than “Bitey”. I can tell that it is not a bed bug and my best guess is a true bug maybe related to a minute pirate bug. These are known to stab people when their usual preferred prey is not around…but the head shape and the coloration look wrong to me. Thanks in advance!
I apologize in advance if this is a repeat but I realized I never actually verified the last one went through (which may not be something the site does, so sorry for that, too)
Signature: Hernan

Bug Eyed Bug

Bug Eyed Bug

Dear Hernan,
We find your letter terribly entertaining.  The first thought in our mind when we looked at the images was “my what big eyes you have”, and sure enough, our research on BugGuide revealed that this is a Big Eyed Bug in the genus
Geocoris.  According to BugGuide the habitat is  “On ground between clumps of weeds and sparse grass, especially in sandy places, in woods and near streams” and they are “generalist predators of small arthropods.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Big-eyed bugs are among the most abundant and important predaceous insects in many crops in the US.”  Based on that information, it seems highly possible that the individual that bit your wife came in from the outdoors.  As far as the bite is concerned, we are attempting to research other information on bites to humans, and we are relatively certain your wife was not mistaken for a small arthropod.  Additional information is available on Featured Creatures and the Cornell University Biological Control site.  It is sad, but it seems that whenever we write about the possibility of a beneficial insect biting or stinging a person, paranoid individuals attribute horrible reactions to the situation, much like the recent spate of comments we have received regarding the bites from Lacewings.  We like to maintain an open dialog and an interactive site, and we refrain from editing comments, but quite frankly, the internet has become the refuge of paranoid kooks who are trying to protect themselves, their children and their pets from every perceived threat in the world.  Thanks again for your wonderful submission with its excellent images.  It isn’t hard to imagine “Stabby” jabbing that impressive proboscis into tender flesh, but we maintain that is a rarity, and countless millions of encounters between people and Big Eyed Bugs go unnoticed.

Big Eyed Bug

Big Eyed Bug showing proboscis

Big Eyed Bug

Big Eyed Bug us a tiny insect.

Location: San Francisco, California

2 Responses to Big Eyed Bug bites woman in San Francisco

  1. Hernan says:

    Thank you! Stabby does look like Geocoris pallens. He (?) was captured in flagrante stabbo, so we know it was him. My wife had been getting “bit” in her sleep for a couple of weeks and so we were *relieved* when we looked at this guy close up and saw that it was not a bed bug. After that, curiosity took over. No mandibles, so not “Bitey”, not a beetle, not quite a pirate bug, etc. Anyway, the western parts of San Francisco used to be dunes and the soil in our yard is sand with “clumps of weeds and grass” (thanks, drought) which sounds like good habitat for Big Eye Bugs. My guess is that he rode in on one of us from the yard, found our bedroom to be a very poor habitat indeed, and stabbed my wife in extremis(the absence of normal prey and probably not helpful to him). Like you said, a rare exception for what is otherwise a beneficial neighbor. Thanks again!

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