How To Tell If It’s Bed Bugs Or Fleas

Bed Bugs

Both fleas and bed bugs invade human habitats. They are blood-sucking bugs and fare fairly well in unhygienic environments, especially indoors. These pests can prove tricky to get rid of. They have distinct similarities making it hard for many people to differentiate their bites. However, they also have their unique differences. This article explores the major dissimilarities and similarities of these two types of bugs. Keep reading, and you’ll be able to tell if you are dealing with bed bugs or fleas.

What to Know

Among the many parasites traumatizing many homeowners are bed bugs and fleas. Why so? Due to their tiny size, they find their way into human habitants undetected. An adult bed bug is about 5-7mm, while an adult flea is 1.5-3.2mm long, making it tough to get rid of once they invade your home. Their small size allows them to thrive in places you can hardly see or access.

How Do They Enter Homes?

These bugs take advantage of their minute size to hitch rides. Meaning they can easily hop on your pet or you while outdoors and hike a ride to your home. Used furniture, clothing, spring mattresses, and luggage are other common hoping spots for these bugs. Once in the house, they survive on the human and animal blood. Their similarities leave many unsure whether they’re dealing with bed bugs or fleas infestation. Being able to tell them apart makes their prevention and control easier and more effective.

Discovering The Culprit and Finding a Solution

Fleas and bed bugs share common traits but are totally different parasitic insects. So, what sets them apart?

Physical Appearance

These bugs are easily noticeable. Both have a reddish-brown shade. But, fleas have a leveled, narrow and long body while bugs are flat and oval-shaped.


Fleas spread diseases like cat scratches, plague, and typhus, while bed bugs bites are commonly associated with secondary skin diseases arising from itchiness. So, bed bugs don’t transmit diseases or pathogens to their host. They only cause allergies to people who are sensitive to their bites.

Preferred Hosts

Both feed on mammal’s blood. However, bed bugs are fond of sucking human blood as opposed to fleas. That makes beg bugs more traumatizing to humans. Fleas tend to settle for furry animals like cats and dogs and rarely bite humans unless necessary. That’s not to mean that you have bed bugs or fleas’ infestation if you wake up with bites. Various parasitic insects bite humans. So, check for more signs, and if necessary, consult a professional in pest control to help ascertain the cause of your bites.


The two bugs bite, leaving small red and highly visible spots. However, flea bites are extremely itchy and may appear crowded or scattered. Besides, fleas bite on the ankles and legs. On the contrary, bed bug bites are painless, less itchy, and look like lines or clusters. You’ll spot them on areas that tend to be exposed when sleeping, like the lower back.


Catching a flea is harder than trapping a bed bug. Fleas hop and can cover a long distance with just one leap. On the other hand, bed bugs are sluggish crawling pests.

Feed on blood

Bed bugs and fleas feed on their host’s blood. They both settle for mammals.

No wings

Both are wingless parasitic insects.


While these two bugs tend to hitch rides into their host’s home, they do so without a trace.


Unlike their hosts, who are active during the day, these bugs are nocturnal. They go to their hideouts during the day and move freely at night, making it difficult to spot them. You can only suspect their presence in your home or business if you wake up with red itchy bites.


Bed bugs and fleas can live for days without feeding on their hosts’ blood. However, the duration varies. Bed bugs have a shorter survival duration, for they can only live without blood for a few weeks, while fleas can last up to 100 days.

Managing Fleas and Bed Bugs Bites

Treating bites for both fleas and bed bug is not complex. However, seeking professional medical help is important. It will ensure you get the right prescription eliminating any potential drug interactions. Unfortunately, some people opt for self-management solutions and overlook possible severe effects from half-backed treatments.

Treating Bed Bug Bites

Though bed bug bites rarely showcase serious effects, these bugs are parasitic. Yes, they don’t carry pathogens, but their bites can cause adverse effects to the host if not well managed. It’s vital to treat bed bug bites with anti-itch cream. Over-the-counter ointments prove effective to many, but be sure to consult your practitioner to know which among the available creams may be best for your skin. These bites remain dry and clean with the right anti-itching ointment and eventually fade away. As mentioned earlier, some people are allergic to bug bites. In such cases, home treatments are not encouraged. The individual will require to visit their doctor for further examination. That way, the physician will determine if the patient requires an additional prescription besides an anti-itching ointment. With the close observation from a medical expert, the bites and other alarming conditions will be managed effectively. Regardless of how easy or complicated it is to treat your bed bugs, consider getting a professional exterminator to help eradicate the blood-sucking pests.

Treating Flea Bites

Fleas can leave you with more problems to manage besides the bites. So, handle the bitten areas with care and a lot of hygiene to minimize the risks of getting other potential diseases from the fleas’ feces. Then get an over-the-counter anti-itching cream and anti-allergies to help suppress the intense itching and prevent any adverse allergies. Consult your doctor if these remedies seem not helpful, for instance, if the itching is continuous and your skin looks infected. As you manage the bites and potential infections, prioritize flea treatment service. Get a veterinarian to treat your pets and an exterminator to eliminate any flea infestation in your house.

Summing Up

Remember, prevention of any pest is better than removal. However, some bugs like fleas and bed bugs can get into your home undetected. Cleaning your house thoroughly, washing your pets more often, maintaining high levels of personal hygiene, and decluttering your home will reduce the risk of fleas and bed bugs invasion.

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