What’s the big difference between flea bites and bed bugs bites?
Flea bites and bed bugs bites can both find your home. They can both bring pain, irritation and sleepless nights to those dealing with them. That is where the similarities end for these annoying biting insects. Their bite can be felt differently depending on the area of the body that is bitten. Fleas inject saliva into their host when they feed causing a very sharp immediate pain that subsides after feeding (similar to a mosquito). Bed bugs typically insert their mouth parts into their prey and drain blood out of its abdomen using enzymes in their saliva, rather than biting down like fleas do with teeth or mandibles.(1)
Although some people develop allergies to flea bites, fleas do not feed off humans or other mammals. They solely drink blood from their hosts, typically wild animals such as rodents and birds. Flea bites tend to be found around the ankles and legs, back of neck and behind the ears. Bed bugs can bite nearly anywhere on a human’s body but straight on puncture wounds are most likely to appear on bony portions of the body such as knees, shoulders, etc.(2)
Flea Bites Or Bed Bugs
Bed bug bites
The location of bed bug bites is almost always random because they don’t choose where they want to bite you based on your skin color or what part of them they prefer to suck from. If you have been bitten by bed bugs it is unlikely that you will be visiting again anytime soon because saliva contains a chemical that can be tracked all the way back to your bloodstream. Fleas have this same chemical in their saliva but it is not required for them to track you back to where they originally bit you at.(3)
Fleas are so small and light, they cling onto skin and fur naturally because of static electricity. Bed bugs on the other hand cannot fly or jump, so they creep around from place to place by crawling which makes bites more random in location compared with fleas. This crawling behavior also causes bed bug bites to appear as linear patterns on one’s body because bed bugs follow each other between hosts, causing bite lines down your arms or legs if multiple people share a bed.(4)
For more information on the differences between bed bugs and flea bites, check out blog
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Yentzer BA, et al., “Are Bed Bugs Resistant to Permethrin Used in Hotels and Apartment Buildings?.” J Med Entomol. 2016;53(1):75-81.
Yentzer B A, et al., “The Relationship Between Duration of Exposure and the Severity of Infestation With the Common Bed Bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae).” J Med Entomol. 2012;49(2):418-22
Monroy D S, et al., “A Review of the Vectors of Bartonella Species.” Vector Borne ZoonoticDis. 2016;16(7):365-76
Lowery, Robert S., et al., “Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius) Are Increasingly Detected in Clinics Across the United States.” JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(4):423+.