It can be difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference between bed bug bites and flea bites. In order to determine the kind of bites you are suffering from, it is essential to first have some kind of circumstantial evidence that will further prove if you are having bed bugs or fleas in your home.
Bed bugs and fleas both require blood meals which they obtain from warm blooded hosts. In either case, almost all life cycle stages, except the eggs, need blood to develop and grow. Bed bugs and fleas are equipped with special mouth parts for piercing and sucking blood from hosts.
Distinguishing features of Bed bug bites
If you (or a loved one) are suffering from bed bug bites, chances are that you will have red welts, swollen bumps and rashes on exposed parts of your body, mainly the arms, legs, neck and backs. Bed bug bites are likelier at nighttime, as these pests prefer to stay hidden during the day, and come out when they sense the warmth and carbon dioxide generated by sleeping hosts.
Some people might not even realize that they have been bitten by bed bugs. However, those who are sensitive to bed bug bites can develop an allergic reaction to the protein and enzymes present in the bug’s saliva. These can lead to following symptoms:
- Red spots with surrounding redness which is extremely itchy.
- Bite marks generally present in form of linear bands or rows.
- Bed bug bites are typically seen on neck, arms, legs, face.
- There might not be any visible symptoms in some people, whereas, in hypersensitive individuals, redness, itching, blistering and hives can result from bed bug bites.
Distinguishing features of flea bites
Flea bites are typically associated with presence of pets such as dogs, cats, and other wildlife. Human fleas as well as chicken fleas are also common, depending on the area and availability of host animals. Flea bites tend to leave many signs, typically on arms, lower legs etc. Pet owners might observe intense scratching or other signs of distress in their pets owing to flea bites. In absence of host animals, fleas are capable of biting humans, especially small children. Fleas can jump long distances to latch onto other warm blooded hosts for getting their blood meals. They prefer to hide in furry or hairy animals but will not shy from drinking blood from humans.
Here are a few signs and symptoms of flea bites:
- Flea bite marks include raised, swollen and itchy red bumps typically on lower legs, arms or other exposed areas under the edges of loose fitting clothes.
- The red wheals or bumps can develop into blisters within a day or two.
- Intense scratching can lead to open wounds and secondary skin infections.
- A few individuals do not show any reaction to flea bites as they may be immune. Others might develop nasty reactions with characteristic symptoms mentioned above.
Summary of differences between bed bug bites and flea bites
|Bed Bug Bites||Flea Bites|
|Red raised swollen marks similar to mosquito bites||Small bumps surrounded by red patches|
|Mainly appear in rows , in straight or linear patterns||Mainly appear in groups or clusters of three or four|
|Typically, bed bug bites may be seen on arms, legs, neck, back, face and other exposed body parts||Flea bites are typically seen on ankles, lower legs and feet.|
|Bed bug bites mainly occur at night as the bugs hide during the day. Bed bugs bite periodically with a gap of few days between bites.||Flea bites can occur at any time of the day or night. Additionally, they bite all the time, as long as they are around.|
It is evident that flea bites and bed bug bites can be hard to tell apart. However, both types of bites can be annoying and, in worse cases, develop into secondary skin infections that may be harder to treat. If you suspect an infestation of either kind, it is necessary to watch out for other tell-tale signs to help pinpoint the type of bugs that are harassing you. This can guide you in taking proper remedial actions to prevent further flea bites or bed bug bites.