If you’ve been bitten by a bug the first thing you need to do is identify which insect has bitten you. If you believe that the bites you have are from inside your own home then bed bugs and fleas are more than likely the main culprits.
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites so you need to look for clues like what the bites look like and the circumstances of where and how you were bitten.
Before we try and distinguish between the two different bug bites its just as important to look at each bite separately.
Fleas are usually found and brought into your house on your pets such as cats and dogs but can also be found on other animals. Flea bites can appear anywhere on the body that the parasite can get access to but they are most commonly found on the feet, legs and waist.
They appear in small clusters that are red and swollen with a single puncture wound in the center, they will look blotchy and you’ll want to constantly scratch them to stop the itching. The bite will become swollen and itchy about an hour after being bitten and often come with a rash as well.
If you see your pet constantly itching its likely you have a flea infestation. Fleas are happiest on a fury animal but in the absence of such a host they will feed on a human.
Bed bug bites
Bed bugs are usually brought into your home on a human being. The bites are more than likely to be found on your arms, neck, face and hands as these are the areas that are uncovered and easy to reach.
They appear as small but hard swollen lumps most often in a straight row and can be itchy as well although they don’t usually turn into a rash. The bites usually takes a couple of days and up to a week to show up with the itching getting worse over time but they don’t usually come with a rash.
Bed bugs prefer to feed on humans because they are easy targets but can also feed on your pets although they are not that keen on navigating the fur.
Differences between bed bugs and fleas
Although both these parasites need a host and blood to live on fleas are more dependant than bed bugs. Fleas need to feed on a daily basis or they will die within a couple of weeks while bed bugs only need to feed every 7-10 days and can go for up to a year without feeding.
Fleas will bite continuously night and day and are constantly on the go whilst bed bugs only feed at night while the host is fast asleep in bed, they will hide the rest of the day often in the piping of a mattress and around the bed stand.
Both pests cant fly but the flea can jump about 200 hundred times its body length due to its powerful legs so can get around quickly while the bed bug just crawls around so doesn’t cover as much ground.
The best way to identify these pests it to catch them, bed bugs are the easiest to catch as they crawl and are larger and easier to spot while the flea is smaller and can jump away before you have chance to catch it.
If you do catch one use a piece of clear sticky tape to hold it in position so you can examine it without it escaping.
Fleas are thin and flat with brown bodies and a hard shell, they have no wings but their hind legs are large and strong for jumping. Bed bugs are flat with an oval shape and a reddish brown appearance.
Bed bugs are easy to squash between your fingers while fleas, although harder, can be squashed between your finger nails.
A female adult flea can lay between 150 and 300 eggs every week whilst a female bed bug can only lay 200 in its lifetime which is usually 10 – 12 months.
Fleas are known to carry and pass on diseases, bed bugs on the other hand are not know to pass on any disease.
Treating flea and bug bites
If you have been bitten by one of these parasites its important not to scratch it, using a cold compress or calamine lotion can often sooth the bite and ease the itchiness. If you couldn’t resist scratching and have broken the skin you need take measures to stop an infection, wash the area with warm soapy water and pat dry and try to refrain from scratching in future.