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Bed Bug VS Tick Bite

It can be tricky to decipher if that bug bite came from a tick or a bed bug. Both ticks and bed bugs are very similar, they’re small, flat, wingless parasites that can live off of both humans and animals. Finding a tick or bed bug bite can be a nightmare, especially if you have no idea whether it came from a tick or bed bug. 

Ticks will generally come from outdoor and woodsy areas. Ticks will hide in tall grass until a host is close enough to pass by. However, bed bug infestations are likely from another indoor area such as a hotel, AirBnb, and even a friend’s house. 

Although they are very similar, ticks and bed bugs do not act the same. Each infestation has a different set of procedures that need to follow finding the infestation. The best way to tell if your bite is from a tick or a bed bug is to take a second look at both the bite and the insect. 

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites are swollen and hard-looking. Unlike ticks, bed bugs will swarm in larger colonies when they bite, so there’ll likely be multiple bites all over your body. People who have experienced bed bug bites and infestations report having large “patterned” bites on their bodies from the bed bugs. Bed bugs will normally try to bite exposed skin rather than taking time to get under multiple layers.   

Thankfully, unlike ticks, bed bugs do not carry diseases. Bed bugs will still carry bacteria and can cause damage to yourself and your home- a bed bug infestation is not to be taken lightly. Bed bugs are over half of the calls most exterminators receive. They can often hide within the smallest seams and folds of your bed, and you may not realize you still have them after getting rid of them!

Bed bugs are smaller than ticks. They are six-legged insects that mostly feed on humans, but can nibble on animals too. Bed bugs are normally found in homes and are brought in from outside sources such as a hotel or a taxi. This means if you travelled recently or were in an indoor space with some signs of an infestation, your bite is likely from bed bugs. 

Signs of bed bug infestations include:

  • Dark spotting and grease stains
  • Staining from insect feces and blood
  • Molted skins and eggshells 
  • An offensive, sweet, musty odour

When looking for bed bugs, be sure to check in between the seams and folds of your mattress and pillow. Bed bugs can hide anywhere as long as it’s dark and warm enough- you can even find bed bugs in curtain seams! 

Tick Bites

Unlike bed bug bites, ticks bites normally stand alone. Ticks do not bite in swarms the way bed bugs would. Ticks will latch onto a host for a few days until it is gorged. You’ll likely only have one or two ticks when you do have an infestation. These bites do swell and are often quite itchy from the compound tick’s release which prevents human blood from clotting. 

Tick bites are much more dangerous than bed bugs. Ticks can carry several diseases such as Rock Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. People who suffer with chronic symptoms of Lyme disease can deal with symptoms years after being bitten by a tick. 

Ticks are classified as arachnids. They have eight legs and are normally a little bigger than bed bugs. Ticks will mainly feed on animals such as dogs, but they can bite humans. Unlike bed bugs, ticks infestations will normally come from outdoor areas. Ticks particularly live in wooded areas and hide in tall, grassy spots.   

To avoid ticks, make sure to:

  • Mow lawns and yards regularly
  • Clean yard debris and other organic waste outside
  • Avoid walking off trails into grassy areas
  • Wear longer sleeves and pants 
  • Use tick and flea preventative products on yourself and your pet

If you do find a bite after walking through a wooded area, don’t panic. Tick bites can often be mistaken for mosquito or spider bites. Tick bites do not hurt, but they will latch onto a host for some time before releasing. When they do release, their bites will often leave a “bullseye” shape where the tick once was. 

If you or your pet is bit by a tick, be sure to safety and properly pull the tick off. Do not rip the tick off or attempt to crush the tick. Instead, use flat-head tweezers to grab onto the tick. Next, pull the tick straight upwards, not off to the side.