Aphids are well-known predators of plants, but do aphids bite humans as well? Let’s find out.
Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that are common plant pests in the United States. An aphid infestation is bad news for the plant.
They use their needle-like sucking mouthparts to drink the sap out of plants and damaging them in the process.
However, aphids can not harm humans in any way. Their sharp mouths can occasionally pierce through human skin, but they do not have teeth or a stinger to bite humans.
So, the answer to the question is: aphids cannot bite humans. Let’s learn more about this in this article.
Can Aphids Bite Or Sting You?
Aphids cannot bite you; they don’t have any teeth. Insects like bees or wasps use stingers to pierce human skin, but aphids don’t have those either.
They can occasionally pierce your skin with their sharp mouthparts, but that happens very rarely.
As we just said, aphids can neither bite nor sting you, but their needle-like mouthparts might prick you.
The only people likely to ever get their skin pierced by aphids would be researchers who would sit in a garden with an aphid infestation!
You might wonder why an aphid would sit on human skin in the first place. Well, human skin is moist, and aphids look to suck moisture in the form of sap from plants.
You get the picture… most likely, the poor aphid was just trying to suck the sap out of you!
Signs You’ve Been Bitten or Stung by an Aphid
Unless you have seen the aphid crawling on your skin and biting you, you cannot be sure about its bite. It is very similar to the bite or sting from many commonly found insects.
An aphid’s bite or sting doesn’t usually hurt because they do not have teeth. Even so, some people have reported rashes and swollen or itchy skin after an aphid bite.
There is little research on what happens after aphids bit human skin, so one cannot be sure of the same.
However, researchers have observed that gall-forming aphids in Taiwan live under snowbell trees and bite people, leaving a red rash lasting up to three days.
An aphid may occasionally bite people if their hands or skin smells like plants or if the insect feels threatened or want to do the taste test (with their antennae) on you.
Do pea aphids bite people?
If an aphid has bitten you in the US, it is usually the doing of a pea aphid. Pea aphids are spread worldwide, have long legs and either green or pinkish bodies, and are active during summer.
In winter, they lay their eggs on clover or alfalfa leaves. Pea aphids usually stick together in large colonies where female aphids lay eggs giving birth to approximately 100 aphids.
However, pea aphids aren’t as aggressive as the gull-forming aphid of Taiwan. They would usually go mind their own business rather than intentionally biting a human.
The bites from pea aphids do not harm humans. However, they may leave a rash or swollen and itchy skin for a while.
Who else do aphids bite?
Usually, aphids simply use their needle-like mouthparts only to suck tree saplings. However, a few aphids might not be vegetarian and might suck on other insects or their eggs.
These aphids may use their mouthparts, known as stylets, to pierce through their skin and drink their juices, including the eggs and larvae.
Some aphids also liked to feed on mites and occasionally attacked other aphids in their colonies in search of food.
Winged aphids have an unusual relationship with ants. Ants bite off their wings so that they can extract the sugary honeydew that aphids excrete after sucking plant saplings.
Ants are known for herding aphids, keeping them safe from other predators, and extracting this honeydew as their reward.
On the other hand, woolly aphids eat up ant larvae, finishing off their honeydew suckers before they are even born!
Frequently Asked Questions
What do aphids look like?
Aphids are small insects (about 1/4inch long) and you can identify them via their soft and colorful bodies. They come in various colors: black aphids, white aphids, green aphids, etc. Wooly aphids are a common type of white aphids.
What do aphids feed on?
Their main food source is the sap of plants. When an aphid colony infests a plant, they suck the sap dry and leave behind a sooty mold that damages leaves, fruits, and flowers.
Aphids are one of the worst pests because they destroy the entire plant.
What happens if an aphid bites you?
Technically, aphids cannot bite humans because they have no teeth. However, they can pierce throughout with their mouthparts, called stylets.
These aphid “bites” can cause mild skin irritation. It can lead to swollen, itchy skin or a rash that may last for a few days.
Can aphids harm humans?
No, aphids cannot harm humans directly. They can occasionally pierce through human skin mistaking it for a plant’s sap, and that’s it.
However, they can bring aphid infestation to your garden and damage your precious plants.
Do aphids bite dogs?
Aphids can pierce their mouthparts on dogs’ skin, but the “bite” will not cause any serious damage. Humans can get rashes out of an aphid’s bite, but since a dog’s skin is covered with fur, it is unlikely that it will get any rashes or swelling.
Can aphids infest your house?
Aphids can easily come inside your house with infested house plants. They can also attach to your clothes or enter via doors and windows with the help of wind. Once inside, they can infest indoor houseplants.
Aphids cannot hurt humans. So the next time you see an aphid, do not worry about getting bitten or stung. It won’t harm you, but it can and will damage your plants in the garden.
They are one of the most horrible pests, and you should try to keep Asian ladybeetles, ladybugs, or other beneficial insects in your garden to get rid of them as soon as possible. Thank you for reading!
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.
Letter 1 – Aphid Wolf bites human
Location: San Francisco, CA
July 24, 2011 1:58 pm
I woke to find this little guy biting my arm. It raised a small welt that faded in an hour or so. I hope not to meet any more, but I’m curious who I’m dealing with. I had a look through the catalog here, but didn’t spot this fellow. (I’m just glad it’s not a bedbug.) Do you recognize it?
Signature: Breakfast Buffet
Dear Breakfast Buffet,
The larval Lacewing deserves its common name Aphid Wolf. This predator is a welcome addition to the garden where it will devour countless Aphids. Here is a photo from a posting in our archives showing an Aphid Wolf feasting on its preferred meal, Aphids. We have frequently gotten reports from people regarding the sensation of the bite from an Aphid Wolf, and just last week, Daniel had his own first hand experience that is worth reporting. While driving to work in the morning, Daniel felt a slight pinch on his right wrist, and looked down to find a tiny Aphid Wolf biting down. The sensation of the pinch was far greater than one would expect from such a tiny creature. Since Daniel knew that this was a harmless creature, he decided to allow the Aphid Wolf to ride until the destination was reached where it could be released, and in the course of the remaining ten minute drive, the beast bit a second time. Both bites left tiny welts, and the faint burning sensation lasted until the next day. We frequently have to inform our readership that insects might sting and bite, but they are not aggressive. This Aphid Wolf was not provoked, and it bit nonetheless. The sensation was easily felt and the side effects of an itchy welt lasted 24 hours, considerably less than the bite of a mosquito which is far more annoying. Aphid Wolves are amazing creatures, and in some of our older postings, we have used an alternate name of Aphid Lion.
Thanks, Daniel! I’ve delivered the aphid wolf to a friend who’s having an aphid problem. 🙂
Letter 2 – Lacewing Larva: Aphid Wolf Bites Human!!!
Subject: Small with Big Bite (or sting)
Location: Southeast Michigan
July 7, 2012 12:23 pm
We keep finding these little guys all over our deck in the backyard. It seems their favorite hangout is our picnic table (we don’t picnic on it, so they’re not waiting for scraps). If they crawl on you, they can really hang on. They’re only about 1/4 inch, but they’ve got a wicked bite (or sting). They can even bite/sting through a loose tee-shirt. Some people have allergic reaction to the bite/sting and welt up, others just feel the pain. We’ve never seen them in the house or even other parts of the yard (which is half an acre). Any help identifying these little guys would be greatly appreciated!
Signature: Rice Fam
Dear Rice Fam,
We know first hand that the bite of a Lacewing Larva is surprisingly noticeable compared to the size of the creature. Lacewing Lavae and adults are both important predators that help to control the population of Aphids and other plant feeding insects. The bite is not dangerous. The larva of a Lacewing is commonly called an Aphid Wolf.
Letter 3 – Aphid Wolf bites parent in California
Subject: Yellow and black/gray bug
Location: Hemet CA
November 11, 2016 11:34 pm
I was at the park with my children in Hemet, CA. While waiting for them to play I was ‘bitten’ by this type of bug several times. No one I asked could identify it. Everyone says earwig, but the pinchers are on the head and not the tail.
This is the larva of a Lacewing, commonly called an Aphid Wolf. We have received numerous reports from people who have been bitten by both larval Lacewings and adults, and our editorial staff is fully aware that the itchy welt produced by the bite will last as long as a week.
Thank you. I couldn’t find it anywhere else. I’m 7 months pregnant and wanted to be sure it wasn’t going to harm the baby.
Letter 4 – Aphid Wolves Biting in Northern California
Subject: Unknown bug
Geographic location of the bug: Northern California
Time: 12:08 PM EDT
Subject: Unknown bug
Geographic location of the bug: Northern California
Your letter to the bugman: I keep finding these tiny bugs on my patio, they bite and cause itching, everything says silverfish or pincher bug , the pinchers are in front , it’s definitely not either of those , it’s the size of a flea , I blew up pics to see better, please tell me what these bugs are?
How you want your letter signed: Thanks!
This is a predatory Lacewing Larva. They are often called Aphid Wolves because of the large numbers of Aphids they are able to consume in the garden. We often get reports of bites from Lacewing Larvae.