If you've noticed itchy bumps on your arm or neck this week, you've most likely been attacked by ghost bugs and didn't even know it.

Many Hudson Valley homeowners are reporting painful, itchy bites over the past few days but can't seem to recall being bit by anything. Some victims may have assumed that it was just a mosquito, or perhaps worried that a tick or spider may have attacked when they weren't looking.

The painful bites start as an itch and then begin to swell in size until they throb and hurt. If you're experiencing these symptoms this week, most likely you've been attacked by a "ghost bug."

The Hudson Valley has seen a massive uptick in attacks by these annoying little creatures, but the good news is that they're mostly harmless. Until recently, these swarming bugs have been more of a concern in the Adirondacks and areas to the north, but over the past few years, they've become an incredible nuisance right here in the Hudson Valley.

Unsplash/Vincent van Zalinge
Unsplash/Vincent van Zalinge

Just like real ghosts, these little gnats will generally attack before you've even noticed they were there. Because they're so small, their bit is undetectable, allowing them to disappear before you even realize you've been bit.

Sometimes referred to as black flies or flying midges, these annoying little bugs pack a huge punch but don't really cause much harm aside from a few days of pain. I was outside in a short-sleeved shirt on Monday and although I did see a few flying gnats while working in the yard I had no idea they were biting me. The next morning my arms were incredibly itchy and slowly became inflamed and bumpy. Two days later, the bites are still very painful and feel like they're on fire.

Experts say the best defense against these gnats is to wear long pants and sleeves when working outside. No matter how many times you try to swoosh them away, these small flies will still find a way to land, patiently crawling around until they find a good place to bite. If it's too warm to wear long sleeves, a bug repellent that includes DEET is a pretty effective way to keep the ghost bugs from attacking.

As far as treating gnat bites, cold compresses and antihistamines can help with the itching but the only real cure is time. After several days the swelling will eventually go down on its own.

Have you been bit by a ghost bug this week? Let us know about it on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

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