Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

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Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Bed bugs, can’t live with them, can’t live with them. Am I right? These nasty little critters are masters; master hiders, master hitch hikers, and master irritants. So, if you’re trying to diagnose those red spots on your body as flea bites or bed bug bites, you better hope they’re not the latter, as master critters need master exterminators which often comes with a master price tag. Although these bites are similar in look and feel, there are a few defining qualities that make it easier to discover their source.

What do bed bugs look like?

It is going to be tricky to identify these guys (even next year when you have 2020 vision) because they are so jolly small. An adult bed bug is roughly half a centimeter in size, and their children measure in at a whopping 2 to 5 millimeters. Keep those eyes peeled for little flat, oval-shaped, rusty coloured apple seeds with 6 legs, 2 antennae and no wings, and should you find them, grab your magnifying glass because the baby bugs (do-do-do-do-do-do) are still translucent and the tiny eggs are a cream colour, making them even harder to spot.

What do fleas look like?

These are even harder to inspect than bed bugs as they’re roughly the size of a baby bed bug, a whole 3mm. They are, however, great bed bug impersonators. They’re the same rusty colour, they’re also flat, and they don’t rely on wings to travel. They give themselves away in that they just can’t help jumping, they love it, it’s how they get around, and their back legs are designed for it, unlike bed bugs who merely crawl to their desired destinations. So should you get close enough to a flea (before it jumps away), you’ll notice their very long back legs which afford them the ability to jump an impressive 33cm, making it one of the best jumpers in the animal kingdom, second only to the froghopper.

dog flea

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are the undisputed hide and seek champions of the world. Their tiny bodies are perfectly suited to impossible-to-find hiding spaces. Furthermore, they’re nocturnal, so they play while you sleep, seems a bit unfair. However, master technicians who have committed time to their game have informed us that they just love to hide under bed frames, behind headboards, in electrical outlets, in springs, on the corners of mattresses (obviously), behind wall paper, on the back of paintings and frames and in furniture crevices. These nasty pests are also incredibly committed to hiding. They’ll hide for up to 4 months between feasts on your blood, so just when you think they’re gone, they get hungry and it’s dinner time, and you’re the main course. 

Where are fleas found?

After hatching, the flea’s only intent is to protect itself, and carpet fibres, mats and floors are the perfect places to do so. As they get older, fleas, like most humans, begin to love pets, they just have an unorthodox way of showing it; they suck their blood and take over their beds. The juiciest parts of our beloved fur children are their necks, backs and underside areas, which is where fleas take up residence in order to take full advantage of the buffet. Apart from that, they also quite enjoy the great outdoors, taking a liking to places that offer both shade and humidity, like long grass, shrubs trees and leaves. 

dog scratching itself on its neck

What do bed bug bites look like?

Considering where bed bugs live, their bites tend to appear mostly from the waistline up; you’ll generally find bites on your hands, shoulders and neck, and occasionally on your legs. Bed bug bites form in clusters or lines, with multiple bites appearing in one area. They become red, swollen and itchy and have a defining dark spot in the middle of each bite. 

What do bed bug bites look like?

Flea bites tend to appear mostly from the waistline down, especially on your ankles, given that they prefer the safety of the carpet in your home, shrubs in your garden or the fur on your pets. Flea bites are also raised, red and itchy, but their bites are more spread out (remember, they love jumping) and, if infected, can form a white pustule in the middle of the bite. 

How do you get rid of bed bugs?

There are many ways to get rid of these guys, but, as mentioned before, these master critters need to be met with master exterminators. Many over-the-counter products and pest control companies’ products are extremely chemical heavy and do not instantly kill the pests, meaning you’re breathing in harsh toxins over extended periods of time, with agitated bed bugs who will emerge from their hiding spots, onto the human on top of them. It may be a party for them, but it certainly won’t be for you. The process may be cheap, but the outcome will reflect that. The most effective way to get rid of bed bugs is an extensive three part process carried out by professional bed bug exterminators. First liquid carbon dioxide should be applied to the mattress and wherever else the technician detects there are bugs. Carbon dioxide will instantly kill all bed bugs and their eggs whilst leaving the area safe for humans and pets. Secondly, a bug lock mattress cover should be used on the infected mattress. These covers have an extremely fine weave to ensure that, if any remain, eggs cannot emerge from the mattress. Lastly, a residual chemical treatment should be used on the bed frame, skirting board, flooring and other hiding areas. Residual treatment works by being absorbed by bed bugs when they walk over it, killing them over time. Furthermore, this treatment  has an insect growth regulator, meaning if some eggs hatch, they can’t reach maturity or breed, thus effectively cutting off that life cycle. 

Man spraying insecticide while standing against tree in lawn

How do you get rid of fleas?

Flea extermination is more straightforward, and thus approximately half the cost of bed bug extermination. Residual product (product that is absorbed by the pests when walking over it) is applied to carpets and floors where it actively works for several weeks, ensuring fleas hatching over the next few weeks will be dealt with accordingly. In order to ensure the residual product functions optimally, do not wash or vacuum floors for at least 10 days after treatment (Oh no, now you can’t do boring household chores for 10 days, bummer). Powder treatment is then applied outside and underneath your house to prevent camping fleas from heading inside for a spot of glamping. Simple, effective, and much easier on your wallet, so let’s hope those bites belong to fleas.

Pest control technician spraying residual treatment under cupboards

Although similar in so many ways, the aforementioned differences between fleas and bed bugs are clear enough for you to identify which critter is squatting in your home. However, if you’re still unsure, or are extra cautious (good on you), most pest control companies offer an inspection service where they’ll accurately diagnose the problem, equipping them with the best knowledge to inform their treatment. If you’re lucky, they might even discount part of the inspection fee from the treatment cost should you decide to go ahead with treatment. All the best! And here’s hoping they’re not bed bugs!

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