13 California Bugs That Bite And Sting Hard

Are you moving to California? Or are you living there?

In either of the cases, you’d need this guide.

In this guide, you’ll find 13 common California bugs that bite. 

It includes bugs that are both home invaders and outdoor bugs.

Keep reading to know it all.

7 California Bugs That Bite You In Your Home

In this section, you’ll find bugs that are typically home invaders, and they bite. 

Most of these bugs on the list either sneak inside your home through tiny gaps and cracks. 

Or you inadvertently introduce them to your home.

Here are the top 7 biting bugs that you’ll find in California homes.

#1 Bed Bugs

do bed bugs like cold rooms

Over the years, bed bugs have spread rapidly in California. In 2021, out of the top thirty cities with bed bugs, LA was 9th, and San Francisco was 22nd.

Though it’s a marked improvement from 2020, when LA was 4th, and San Francisco was 13th.

But things don’t look good.

It’s because the number of bed bug infestations across the US is rising exponentially.

With the increase in heat, human waste, and humidity, bed bug infestations are rising. 

And with the rise in bed bug infestation, bed bug control costs are going over the roof.

Also, bed bugs have developed immunity against many pesticides that pest controllers used to kill them a decade ago.

If you don’t detect bed bugs at the initial stages of infestation and act fast, they’ll spread quickly. 

To know more, you can check our guide on bed bug infestation.

#2 Fleas

Where do fleas live in yard

Fleas are not only a menace to your furry family members but also to you too.

Fleas can get transferred to your bed and furniture from your pets.

Though fleas prefer animal blood but given to survive, they can bite and suck your blood too. 

That’s what happens when fleas hide in your bed, couch, and other upholstery furniture.

The source of fleas is outdoors.

Fleas hide in shrubs and bushes in the damp areas in your yard and garden, waiting for a host.

Once they latch onto your pet, your pet transfers it to your home.

And if your pet spends time or sleeps on your bed and couch, then for sure, fleas will infest your bed.

Fleas can also hide in furniture and hardwood floors. They wait till they get access to a host.

Unless you treat your home and pet for fleas, things will be itchy and buggy inside your home.

#3 Ants

California bugs that bite - Fire ants

Ants are versatile bugs. They can live both indoors and outdoors.

But some ants prefer to live indoors and can leave a nasty bite on you. 

Carpenter ants, sugar ants, and fire ants are three of them that are most common in California homes.

Fire ants prefer to be outdoors, but when the weather outdoors gets inclement, they don’t think twice about invading your home.

These ants will make nests in various hard-to-reach areas of your homes, causing a steep rise in an infestation. 

And don’t forget, ants can also damage electronic appliances like a laptop.

#4 Mosquitoes

California Bugs That Bite - Tiger Mosquito

Mosquitoes in certain parts of California have quadrupled. 

California had mild-mannered mosquitoes.

But over the years, there’s been a sharp increase in two non-indigenous invasive mosquito species. 

They’re the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

Both of these disease-carrying mosquitoes started to raise their heads in South California. 

The California Department of Public Health declared that these mosquitoes have spread across California and many states on the west coast.

Both the yellow fever mosquito and the tiger mosquito are a threat to your health. 

The yellow fever mosquito has spread from South America. They have a habit of repeatedly biting, especially when many people gather at the same place.

The Asian tiger mosquito is native to Asia. They bite not only humans but also other mammals.

Asian tiger mosquito spreads dengue fever.

The yellow fever mosquito, which is more dangerous, spreads a wide range of diseases, from the Zika virus to West Nile disease.

Both the Asian tiger mosquito and yellow fever mosquito look similar with white stripes on them.

And they can bite you even during the day.

To remove the presence of mosquitoes in your home, you can check our guides here and here.

#5 Buffalo Gnats 

California Bugs That Bite - Buffalo Gnats, Black Flies

Mosquitoes are not the only flying bugs in California that bite. 

Buffalo gnats are also one of them.

Buffalo gnats look very similar to mosquitoes. They’re tiny black flying bugs in California that bite both humans and domestic animals.

They’re pretty common in southern California, but they’ve started to spread to other parts of California too.

Also known as black flies, they’ve got their name from a distinctive humped back that distinguishes them from mosquitoes.

Unlike mosquitoes, black flies, or buffalo gnats, they don’t lay their eggs on standing water.

Buffalo gnats need moving water to survive and grow. 

A fountain or an artificial waterfall in the yard is an ideal place for buffalo gnats to breed.

The female buffalo gnat lays 200-500 fertilized eggs on flowing water.

Upon hatching, the larvae attach themselves to the organic debris or the rocks in the water. They feed on organic waste in the water.

The larvae will form a cocoon known as the pupae and lock themselves inside the cocoon for 7-10 days before it breaks out of the pupae as an adult with wings.

#6 Mites

California Bugs That Bite - Mites

Homes can harbor hidden mites. And homes in California are no exception. 

In California, there are two types of mites that bite humans the most. 

These are the tropical rat mite (Ornithonyssus bacoti) and the northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum).

If there is or was a rat infestation in your home, then the chances of tropical rat mite hiding in your home is high.

Tropical rat mites are parasites on rats. They latch on to the rat and suck their blood to survive. 

But when you get rid of the rat infestation, or if the rat dies, these tropical rat mites look for a new host. 

And that’s when these mites bite humans. 

The same is the case with northern fowl mites. Northern fowl mites hide in birds’ nests, and they also latch on to the birds’ bodies.

So, if there’s a birds’ nest on your property, or your property has a chicken coop, then there’s a risk of northern fowl mites’ presence in your home.

Out of the two, the tropical rat mite is more dangerous. 

Their bites cause dermatitis, a kind of skin infection that itches a lot. 

Constant itching can cause the bitten area on your body to get a bacterial infection, which can turn nasty. 

The itching can last for more than three days. You’ll also see a cluster of red dots developing on your skin. 

Consulting a doctor is the best approach to cure the tropical rat mite bite. 

#7 Kissing Bugs In California

Kissing bugs in California

Kissing bugs in California has become a menace over the years.

These bugs are wingless insects that measure less than an inch.

They’re either dark brown or black. And some have red or orange dots on their bodies.

Kissing bugs, also known as assassin bugs, have a long thin snout on their mouth for biting animals and humans.

Kissing bugs are native to the US. You’ll find them in warm states of the US, including in California.

In California, homes in the foothill areas and near the canyons face the menace of kissing bugs the most. Also, the northern region of California has the most cases of kissing bug bites.

Inside the house, kissing bugs hide in cracks and thin gaps on the bed, floor, walls, furniture, closet, and wardrobe.

Kissing bugs bite you when you’re lying idle or asleep. 

Most of the time, kissing bugs bite humans on the mouth. That’s why they got their name as kissing bug. 

The bite marks are like tiny holes near the mouth. They may appear in a straight line.

Initially, the bite is painless, but the bitten area gets intensely itchy after a couple of days.

Constant scratching on the itchy portion will cause the skin to break, leading to bacterial infection.

The worst part?

Kissing bugs bite can cause Chagas disease. It’s because of the bacteria that they transfer from other animals like Racoons to humans.

6 Outdoor Bugs In California That Bite

Now that you know the most common California bugs that can bite you inside your California home, let’s get out of your home.

In this section, you’ll find the most common outdoor bugs in California that can bite you. 

But keep in mind that these bugs can enter your home if they get a chance. 

However, these outdoor biting bugs in California are more prone to live outdoors than inside your home. 

So, here’s the list of 6 outdoor bugs in California that often bite California residents.

#1 No-See-Ums

Small Black Flying Bugs In House That Are Not Fruit Flies

No-see-ums, little black flying bugs in California, are gnats that bite humans outdoors, especially near grassy and moist areas.

So, if you’re camping near a stream, lazying beside a lake, or sunbathing at the beach, then you can get bites from no-see-ums.

No-see-ums are active during the summer months in the early morning and evening hours. 

Do you go to the park for a jog during the early morning or evening hours? Wear a bug repellent cream. 

It’s because no-see-ums are active in parks too during the summer.

That will stop the no-see-ums and mosquitoes from biting you while you’re outdoors.

No-see-ums love damp areas. They live and breed in highly moist places.

So, if you’ve got a damp yard or garden, then no-see-ums can live and breed there as well. 

And once they’re in your yard, it’s only a matter of time that they’ll sneak inside your home through open windows and doors.

No-see-ums look like mosquitoes, but they’re smaller than mosquitoes.

It’s because of their tiny size they got their name as no-see-um.

#2 Ticks

Ticks

Ticks typically are outdoor bugs. They live on bushes, shrubs, tall grasses, and broad leaves near moist and damp places.

Ticks, like the fleas, latch onto a host like animals, pets or they can attach themselves onto your clothing when you brush past bushes or tall grasses.

When they get access to your skin, they’ll insert their fangs to suck the blood. Experts say that adult ticks can bite through clothing too.

Ticks are tiny. They belong to the arachnids family, like the spiders.

Ticks are flat with eight legs. They come in different colors, like greyish-white, brown, black, reddish-black, and yellow.

In California and the US, bites from ticks rarely cause any disease.

However, tick bites can cause Lyme disease and rabbit fever.

To protect yourself from tick bites, it’s always wise to wear an anti-insect lotion while doing any outdoor activity, especially in and around thick vegetation.

And don’t forget to brush off your clothes to eliminate biting bugs as ticks and fleas latched onto your clothing.

#3 Spiders

Black widow spider infestation signs

Spiders are harmless, but if they perceive you as a threat, then they can bite.

The most common spider in California that can bite, especially outdoors, is the black widow spider.

Outdoors black widow spiders hide under the rocks, leaves, and tree barks.

They can be in your yard, hiding in the gaps and cracks of outdoor furniture, gardens, woods, and even in parks.

If you’re in the woods, ensure not to tilt any rock piles and woodpiles with your hand. 

Black widow spiders can act defensively and bite you, especially when they’ve got an egg sac nearby.

Always wear shoes and if a black widow spider bites you, seek medical attention asap.

#4 Black Biting Wasps In California

Black Wasps in California

In California, you’ll find all types of wasps and hornets that you’ll find across the US.

But there’s a wasp that you’ll across quite often outdoors in California and the east coast.

It’s known as the giant black wasp.

It’s black, and unlike other wasps, they don’t have any stripes or spots on their bodies.

An adult black wasp can grow up to an inch or an inch and a half long. The female wasps are bigger than the males, and it’s the female wasps that bite.

Given the warm weather in California, these black wasps are active throughout the year.

Black wasps don’t build hanging nests like other wasps.

They build their nests underground. Black wasps are solitary bugs, and they don’t live in large groups.

The black wasps will hunt down a grasshopper, drag the carcass to the nest, and it’ll lay the eggs in the prey.

Black wasps are not that common near homes like paper wasps. 

But you’ll come across them while you’re hiking or camping in the woods.

Black wasps’ sting is painful, and if you’re allergic to bug bites, you’ll notice some allergic reactions in your body.

#5 The Western Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jacket In California

The western yellow jacket is another stinging wasp in California native to the west coast.

The western yellow jacket is smaller than the black wasp, but it’s more aggressive than the black wasp.

The western yellow jacket is a social wasp and lives in groups. 

Yellow jackets build their nests near homes. If they can get into your home, yellow jackets will make their nests inside your home too.

Outdoors, the western yellow jackets will make their nests in hollow logs of wood and tree stumps and even inside rodent burrows underground.

Inside your home or property, the yellow jackets will make their nests in the wall gaps, attics, under eaves, and on sheds of tall structures.

Their stings are painful, and they’ll bite you if you go close to their nests.

The western yellow jackets are black and yellow. You’ll notice horizontal broad yellow stripes running across their abdomen.

#6 The Rove Beetle

Rove beetle In California

Resembling a giant ant and an earwig, the rove beetle is active from August to September in the homes of coastal southern California.

It has short wing covers, but it can’t fly. The rove beetle is a ground-dwelling beetle.

 When it comes across you, it’ll take an aggressive stance by showing its mandibles and raising its abdomen like a scorpion.

But it doesn’t have a sting in its abdomen.

The rove beetles will deliver a painful bite if you poke them. And after biting, it also discharges a stinking yellowish liquid that can make you feel nauseated.

The rove beetle can be present in your yard or garden. But it doesn’t enter your home because it’s a predator that hunts snails and slugs. 

That’s why they’re beneficial bugs for the garden.

Conclusion

California is home to many types of bugs and insects. In this guide, you’ve found the most ubiquitous bugs that you, as a resident of California, will come across both inside your home and outdoors.

All these bugs are visible, and you can spot them easily. 

But some tiny bugs are hard to spot that can be inside your home.

To know more about them, read our guide on microscopic bugs that bite.