Bed Bug vs. Flea Bites: What’s The Difference?

bed bug vs flea bite

Bed bugs and flea bites are eerily similar. After a nice vacation away, you could end up with either of these critters in your home. Knowing how to identify both bed bug bites and fleas bites helps you get rid of them faster. This blog shows you how to identify bed bug vs flea bite, and shares some helpful tips on identifying an infestation. 

Bed bug bites don’t just look like flea bites, they’re also mistaken for mosquito, tick, and ant bites all the time. To get a full breakdown of their differences, check out our other articles. 

Fleas BitesBed Bug Bites
Bite symptomsSmall red bumps around legs and feet. Often very itchy.Small red bites in “patterns” or lines in exposed areas. Irritated, but not as itchy.
Bite developmentFlea bites may have a dark red center. Look out for blisters, swelling, and rashes from scratching.Bed bug bites may produce hard swells with a dark red center.
Bite patternFlea bites come in clusters.Bed bug bites come in patterns or lines.
Bite frequencyFlea bites are frequent, but they don’t target humans often. Your pet is likely in a lot of pain and may become irritated, aggressive, or lethargic.Bed bugs feed before laying lays and feed at night. You may have had trouble sleeping, or your bed feels “off.” You’ll often find new bites every couple of days.

Also Read: Get Rid of Itchy Bug Bites With 5 Essential Oils

Flea Bites

The easiest way to tell if you have flea vs bed bug bites is if your pet is also affected. Fleas bite more frequently, but they don’t target humans often. Your pet is likely in a lot of pain and may become irritated, aggressive, or lethargic. If you find a mysterious bug and notice your pet itching more, you likely have fleas.

The problem with flea bites is they often look almost exactly like bed bug bites. However, when fleas bite humans, they normally stick to the lower half of your body or anywhere that’s moist. Check your feet and ankles for clusters of red bites. 

flea bites on ankles and legs.

Common places you’ll find flea bites include your:

  • Waist 
  • Armpits
  • Bends in the elbows and knees
  • Other skin folds 

The moistness in these places allows the fleas to lay eggs and feed. 

Fleas bites aren’t harmful to humans unless you have an allergy or scratch them. Scratching causes infection, which can lead to several other health problems like sepsis. Look out for hives, rashes, swells, or blisters for signs of infection. To soothe irritated skin, take oatmeal baths in lukewarm water and moisturize generously after washing. Normally, flea bites go away after a couple of days.

Fleas look like clear or yellowish specks. Some fleas species look more slender from an aerial view. You may even see them jumping from your pet to your couch! Inspect your pet and their bedding for small black specks near their tail, armpits, and neck. These specs are actually fleas droppings, which means they’ve likely already laid eggs on your pet and in your home. Your pet may also seem irritated or lethargic, and may even develop anemia from blood loss. 

Fleas can be incredibly difficult to get rid of, as they can lay dormant for a year before they hatch! To protect your home from prolonged infestations, call your vet and an exterminator for assistance right away. 

Also Read: How To Get Rid of Fleas in The House Fast

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are also small, reddish-brown, and oval-shaped bloodsuckers. Much like fleas, you’re more likely to find a bed bug infestation during the summer or after a vacation. As you can imagine from their name, bed bugs often hide in mattresses, bed frames, and box springs. Hiding here makes it easier for them to feed at night and stay warm. 

Bedbug bites have a dark red spot in the middle of a raised bump. You’ll normally have multiple bites in patterns or lines. 

Bed bug bites on an arm.

Common places you’ll find bed bug bites include your:

  • face
  • neck
  • arms
  • Hands

Generally, bug bugs will bite anywhere that’s exposed when you’re asleep. So if you sleep without a shirt on, you’ll likely find bed bug bites on your back and chest. Bedbug bites usually go away after a week or two. Much like fleas bites, if it becomes infected or you have an allergic reaction (rashes, hives, welts, etc.) call your doctor right away. Soothe itchy skin with lukewarm oatmeal baths and itch-relief cream.

Also Read: 8 Places Bed Bugs Hide In Your Home

You likely contracted bed bugs from a hotel or an AirBnb. However, studies show that you can get bed bugs anywhere from public transit to even a hospital. Bed bug infestations are incredibly common, but what’s important is that you take care of it as soon as you notice common signs, such as:

  • Bed bugs or tiny dots in the folds of your mattress and box spring.
  • Exoskeletons or crunchy “skins” and shells around the bed.
  • Rust-colored spots or feces around the mattress.
  • A sweet or musty odor from the bed.

Also Read: Exterminator Costs To Treat Bed Bugs