Bed Bug Bite v.s. Flea Bite: Four Checks to Determine That Itch


When more than a few red bumps start popping up on your skin, and it seems that mosquitoes can no longer be to blame, you might start to ask yourself if something else is causing the irritation. Could it be a different type of bug? Your concern might grow as you realize that, if it’s not happening on the outside, it might be happening in your home.

There are a few insects that feed on human blood. Of those, two of the more common insects that can be found in or around the home are fleas and bed bugs. But telling the difference between a flea bite and bed bug bite is difficult.

Below are four ways to check for the culprit that is eating you alive and leaving behind itchy red bumps in its tracks.

Flea bites vs. bed bug bites: How do they look different?

Telling the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites can be a challenge. This is because everyone reacts differently. Bites from both bed bugs and fleas can cause round, red bumps on the surface of the skin. It is commonly noted that fleas are more likely to bite around the ankles or lower legs. However, the only way to identify the culprit behind a flea bite or bed bug bite is to find evidence of the bug itself.

Where are fleas found in a home?

The most common type of fleas found on pets are cat fleas, comprising about 90 percent according to the Mallis Handbook of Pest Control by Arnold Mallis. These types of fleas are adaptable and move easily from cats or dogs to humans. When determining whether you have flea bites or bed bug bites, the first thing in your house you might want to inspect is your dog or cat. However, as this population grows they can be found throughout the home.

Some fleas live on their host and are called host fleas. Others, called nest fleas, rest nearby their food source during the day and feed at night. Many nest fleas can be found outdoors, particularly under porches or decks where they are protected from the sun.

Where are bed bugs found in a home?

Bed bugs have rightfully earned their name and are typically found either on or near the bed area, although they may also take cover in upholstered furniture. Bed bugs are small, about three-sixteenths of an inch, and often use small crevices at the edges of mattresses, chairs or sofas to hide. When trying to determine whether you have bed bug bites or flea bites, it is also a good idea to check for signs of bed bugs behind furniture, and along baseboards, floors and carpeting.

How can you identify the culprit without finding the bug?

If you think you might have a flea bite or bed bug bite, there are a couple of different things you can look for to decide what type of bite it is. Both fleas and bed bugs leave behind what some experts call “bug dirt” or feces. Flea bug dirt is reddish-black. When mixed with developing larvae, this dirt has a salt and pepper appearance. When water is poured on flea dirt, it will form a large red stain.

Bed bug droppings are similar, but often appear more like black speckling. It is commonly found on surfaces where humans are most likely to sleep. Bed bugs also shed skins that are light brown in color.

Flea bites vs. bed bug bites: Is one more concerning than the other?

Bed bug bites and flea bites pose different types of issues. Eliminating a bed bug infestation can be incredibly difficult. Hiring a pest management professional is the best way to ensure that you have completely addressed the problem. Bed bugs in the home can lead to many restless nights and itchy bumps on your skin. However, bed bugs are not direct carriers of human pathogens. Fleas, on the other hand, have been blamed for at least a few diseases, including the bubonic plague. This makes them a major health concern. Fleas can also be dangerous to household pets, particularly newborn pets that can become anemic if the fleas take too much blood.

Prevention is the best method of protection when trying to avoid a flea or bed bug infestation. A pest management professional can develop a plan for your home to help ensure these pests are kept under control.

If you suspect an infestation, call Terminix®. A specialist can eliminate any type of insect infestation that is disturbing your home and knock out all of your concerns along with it.

Stop battling the sides of flea bite vs. bed bug bite. The only winner in this fight is the customer that chooses Terminix.