The Manipal bug

swell clipart mosquitoBite

Ever woken up with a ghastly rash on your body?

You might have gotten a nighttime visit from the Manipal bug.

No, it’s not the metaphor. It is the real deal.

It’s a creepy crawly that goes by the name of Paederus melampus.


What is it? Also known as rove beetles, these bugs are only slightly bigger than mosquitoes but are notorious throughout Manipal.

What happens?  These bugs cause a rash known as Paederus dermatitis, usually seen in people who live near dense vegetation, more during the monsoon months. The rash isn’t caused by the bite of the beetle, but by contact with the toxic blistering agent pederin that is released from the bug after it is accidentally brushed against or crushed over the skin. The rash appears over the area of contact within 24-48 hours and disappears in a few weeks.

Signs and Sympoms:

  1. Burning sensation and pain
  2. Itching
  3. Reddening of skin and blister formation

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What should you do?

  1. Wash the area with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes. This prevents pederin from spreading to other areas.
  2. Visit a dermatologist who will prescribe an antihistamine to decrease itching and creams to promote healing and prevent further infection.

How can you prevent it?

  1. Sleep with the lights off as these insects are attracted to the light.
  2. If you stay in a hostel, make sure that the insect nets are fully closed. If you live outside, sleep with windows closed or install insect screens and bed nets.
  3. Learn to recognize the beetle and avoid contact with it. If it lands on your skin, try to remove it without touching it by blowing it off or by using a piece of paper. Wash the area with soap and water immediately and avoid touching your eyes.

Next time you feel a strong urge to crush that insect near you, think twice. You never know, it could be the Manipal bug.

Article by: Upasna Gopalakrishnan

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