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How To Tell Bed Bug Bites from Flea Bites

Before we get into the main part of this blog, I just want to clarify something about bug-related terminology and usage. Bees, wasps, and hornets sting; they do not bite! Sand flies bite, bed bugs bite, and so do mosquitos, fire ants, fleas, lice, ticks, and spiders. And however trivial a distinction this might seem, it’s not. It does make a difference. Why?

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Bed Bug Bites and Flea Bites?

Because insect bites are usually the first sign that we have uninvited ‘guests’ in our homes (or offices or stores), and it’s important that we know what is biting us so that we can respond appropriately.

While there are discernible differences between flea bites and bed bug bites, many people can’t tell the difference. This, I suspect, has a lot to do with the fact that compared to decades ago we see fewer of either kind of bite. We’ll discuss the optics later, but if you are bitten by one of these pests, your first clue will be pain, or the lack, thereof.

The fact is that if you suffer a flea bite you’ll know instantly. It hurts! A bed bug bite, on the other hand, won’t begin to hurt for a number of hours. Of course, both bugs are parasites, depending on an external host for sustenance, but bed bugs bites generally appear on a victim’s upper body, neck, arms, and shoulders. Flea bites, by contrast, are usually found on the feet, ankles, and knees. Still, they can also appear on a person’s waist, armpits, and elbows.

Bed Bug Bites

bed bug bites

As I just pointed out, if you’re bitten by a bed bug it will take some time before you feel anything. But wait 24 hours or so and you’ll start seeing red welts or swelling, and the bite will invariably itch- a lot! And don’t think you’re immune just because your house (or office) is clean and tidy. In one of our blogs a couple of years ago we noted that: