Subject: A 80 year old male, history of heart attack, low blood pressure, for past year recurrent mild foot swelling, otherwise in good health. In this case there was significant involvement over a three-month period.
Narrative: Around 3 AM one night- about three months after I was first attacked- I saw what looked like a small (one and a half inch long) centipede scurrying with determined agility (about one inch per-second) across my carpet. The apparently nocturnal specimen appeared more elongated and sinuous than in its postmortem portrait as shown below. It was halfway into my bedroom where it seemed to have emerged from an adjacent room. Over the past three months I have been bitten in my sleep about every five days. Bites progress from initiation to severe redness and itching within 8 hours. In 24 hours redness, swelling and itching increased with multiple tiny blisters appearing, sprinkled in the vicinity that last a week or more. Each bite session involves 2 to 5 bites and was confined for weeks to one or another specific part of my anatomy- first the upper thigh of my left leg - then the upper ankle and lower limb of my left leg.
The specimen was mangled when I mashed it in a paper towel. It had a firm- almost rubber-like consistency that resisted my rather aggressive mashing- unlike a caterpillar which would have been easily squished by my assault. Over the course of the three-month period when I was being attacked, I deployed 24-hour bug bombs two different times but only in my bedroom and had closed off the adjacent room which appeared to be where the specimen had been lurking and was coming from when I finally spotted it.
It seems highly probable that this was the culprit since after this extermination I had no more incidences of bites. I could find no documentation about bites from beetle larvae on the Internet except about the wheel bug Arilus cristatus inflicting painful bites- but it did not match the features of my specimen or the symptoms caused by the bite. Obviously the bite of my bug was very stealth since I am a very light sleeper and was not awakened by its multiple bites whose effects arose only later via its poison. I did find images of similar-looking beetle larvae identified as Chrysomelidae and Reduviidae. There was also information about some beetles that have larvae that remain in larvae stage for up to one year which could explain how my bug had persisted for such a long time. Also there are many beetle species that are vegetarian as adults but whose larvae are predatory and carnivorous.
I submitted my account and pics to the
Insect Identification Gallery hoping to get some perspectives but the response didn't illuminate the issue:
3021 Hi- I am in Stuart, FL. Seen alive- this insect was longer, thinner and sinuous- resembling a small centipede scurrying (about 1 inch per second) across my carpet- headed for my bed where for three months I have been bitten in my sleep about every five days. Specimen was mauled when I mangled it - mashing it in a paper towel. Could this be the persistent culprit? Thanks Ed I must admit that this one has me puzzled; about all I can say is that it appears to be a beetle larva, and as such would be extremely unlikely to be responsible for any bites. Identifying the exact cause of 'mystery bites' is very difficult without actually catching/seeing the culprit(s) in the act of biting. Ed Saugstad. Retired entomologist; Sinks Grove, WV
Another resource I accessed for identification was Insect Images.