If you have a mysterious bump on your arm that's itchy and painful you're not alone. People from Poughkeepsie to Kingston and Middletown to Newburgh have been overrun by a mysterious bug that's out for blood.

This is no mosquito bite. The welts that have been reported are huge and make the skin warm to the touch. These incredibly itchy bug bites only seem to grow over time, lasting for several days and while continuing to be extremely painful and itchy.

I received one of these bites on my left arm last week. The injury began to blow up like a balloon within 24 hours. Unbearable itching and a sharp pain continued at the site and no remedy seemed to ease the symptoms.

Poughkeepsie Bug Bites

Mysterious Hudson Valley Bug Invasion to Blame for Rash of Bites

When I realized I had been bitten I had no idea the source of the bite was. Jokingly, I wondered aloud if it could have been a snake that snuck up on me or perhaps a bat, but I suspected it was a spider that somehow had crawled up my arm and left a nasty bite.

The culprit, however, is much smaller than any of these animals. In fact, it's an insect that's so small it's earned some colorful nicknames from those who have also been the victim of its painful sting. This bug's population has exploded over the past week and continues to grow in size, attacking unsuspecting homeowners throughout the Hudson Valley.

Bug Bites Newburgh New York

Ghost Bugs Make Their Return to the Hudson Valley

If all of this is starting to sound familiar you have a better memory than I do. After becoming concerned about the giant bug bite on my arm that won't go away I started Googling "Hudson Valley bug bites" and an article that I wrote just two years ago popped up.

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Then I saw another one from 2020 that I authored right underneath it. Both of those stories were written at the end of April and beginning of May complaining of mysterious, painful bug bites.

What I learned back then (and then forgot after two years, learned again and then forgot another two years later) is that these bites are the work of ghost bugs. These tiny gnats appear each spring and feast on the blood of unsuspecting residents. Because they are so small, they can bite and fly away before you even know it.

This is why they're called ghost bugs or, in some regions, no-see-ums.

Kingston New York Midge

These black flies or flying midges can cause some serious pain. This weekend I was back outside and was attacked by a swarm of the little buggers. Today, both arms are covered in even more painful welts.

How to Protect Yourself From Ghost Bugs

Wearing long sleeves or applying a strong bug repellent that includes DEET can help keep black flies at bay. But if you're bitten, there's not much that can be done. Antihistamine creams can offer some temporary relief, but the only thing that really works is time.

Those of you who, like me, are experiencing terrible discomfort this week due to ghost bug bites can take solace in the fact that the symptoms will soon disappear. And, if you're like me, you'll completely forget about even being bitten by them until it happens all over again two years later.

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Gallery Credit: Boris

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Gallery Credit: Weston Loving