Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites: How to Tell them Apart

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The Telltale Signs of Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Waking up too little, itchy red bumps all over your body is certainly annoying. The ordeal of trying to figure out which bug bit you is more frustrating. Without precise knowledge of the insect that bit you, finding the right treatment and applying the appropriate control measures is somewhat a challenge.

Most of the bugs, including mosquitoes, chiggers, and fire ants, leave nearly the same bite marks. However, no bug bites are more difficult to differentiate than bed bug bites vs flea bites.

To help you implement the right pest control strategies for your home and treat any skin infection resulting from an insect bite, let’s discuss the main distinctions between flea bites and bedbug bites.

How Are Bed Bug and Flea Bites Similar?

The bites for both insects appear in clusters as small red bumps on the skin. Typically, the lesions begin to itch around 2 hours after the bite.

As bedbugs and fleas feed, they inject their saliva that contains anticoagulants and antihistamines into your blood. These biochemical agents allow the insects to feed flawlessly without inducing any itchiness immediately. When the antihistamines around the bite site reduce, the area begins to itch.

Fleas primarily cause disease by transferring pathogens during a blood meal. For bed bugs, secondary skin infection due to excessive scratching is the only known mode of disease concerns.

The Features of Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

If you want to know whether the insect that has been feeding on your blood is a bed bug or flea, check the following:

1. Location of insect bites

Sections of the body where most of the bite marks appear can indicate whether it’s a bed bug bite or flea bite. Chiefly, bed bugs target the upper torso and limbs during their blood meals, whereas fleas prefer the lower limbs, especially the legs.

The difference in bite locations correlates to these insects’ hiding places within a home. For instance, bed bugs tend to make their nests within and around beddings such as mattresses or sheets. Bed joints also provide a good breeding ground for these blood-sucking insects.

In most cases, the bed bugs nest towards the head of the bed, making the upper torso and upper limbs their most convenient feeding site.

On the other hand, pets such as cats and dogs are the primary carriers of fleas. Because of their fur, fleas easily burrow and feed on pets. The likelihood of these insects dropping from your dog or cat’s underbelly onto the floor or carpet is high.

Since fleas can only jump an average height of 13 inches, their key targets are body parts nearest to the ground. As such, the human lower limbs remain the primary location of flea bites.

2. Size and color of the bites

While bed bug bites vs fleas bites might be difficult to tell apart at first glance, a keen look at the lesions will reveal notable differences.

Fleas produce smaller, bright red bite marks that often cluster together to form closely-knit patterns around the legs. On the flip side, bed bug bites are more prominent and darker red without any complex design. A linear arrangement or zigzag pattern is most characteristic of bed bug bites.

3. Time of feeding

Insects mostly bite during blood meals. Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that hide during the day and emerge at night to feed. Unlike bed bugs, fleas can bite and feed at any time of the day, but humans are never the primary target.

Whenever fleas want new food sources, they jump from the ground to the nearest host, either human legs or pets. Since fleas lack a precise feeding pattern, you’re likely to spot them crawling over your skin during the day, which indicates flea infestation.

Therefore, if you wake up with multiple red bumps on your torso, bed bugs should be the first insects you suspect.

What Are the Risks of Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

First, fleas can cause an allergic reaction that manifests with rashes or hives in hypersensitive individuals. Usually, the affected areas swell to form blisters that often break, predisposing you to infections.

Plus, fleas present the risk of tungiasis, a condition that occurs following burrowing under your skin. The insects burrow to feed but die within two weeks often causing a severe skin infection.

Like fleas, bed bugs might also cause allergic reactions that swell and, due to scratching, lead to a secondary skin infection. According to the Center for Disease Control, bed bugs do not transmit any known disease despite being a carrier of multiple pathogens.

How To Deal with Bed Bug and Flea Bites

If you have insect bites caused by either fleas or bed bugs, you can:

  • Monitor the affected areas for signs of allergic reaction and skin infection
  • Apply a topical anti-itch cream to prevent inflammation and reduce itchiness
  • Seek medical advice from a professional if the itching or swelling does not resolve within a few weeks.

Noteworthy, these three interventions are short-term. If you want to eradicate the biting insects from your entire home, consider a pest control professional. McDonald Pest Control uses bed bug heat treatment to eliminate these pesky insects from your living space. Forget the stress of flea bites by calling us today at 727-734-0963.