Bed Bugs vs Fleas: How to Tell the Difference

April 2, 2020

If your home has been hit with an infestation but you're having difficulty identifying the pest, explore the difference between bed bugs vs fleas.

If you've noticed a recent pest infestation in your home, it's crucial to know exactly what kind of creepy crawlies you're dealing with.

Before you panic, you need to know the differences between bed bugs vs fleas so you know how to treat and eradicate whatever pests are plaguing your home.

Read on to learn more about the characteristics of bed bugs and fleas so you can spot the difference.


Bed Bugs vs Fleas: The Basics

There are a few similarities between bed bugs and fleas, mostly that both insects like to feed on warm-blooded hosts such as humans or animals. Fleas prefer to feed on animals with fur coats like cats or dogs, while bed bugs like to feed on humans more so than other mammals.

Your pet and other wildlife can bring fleas into your home, which means you have a better chance of dealing with a flea infestation if there are animals in your life. On the other hand, bed bugs hitch a ride with people, meaning you or other families could've brought them home.

Fleas are able to live several months without a host while they're in the pupa stage. Adult fleas only live around two weeks, but bed bugs can live up to a full year between feedings!

When it comes to the number of pests in your home, fleas tend to be more overwhelming in terms of sheer numbers since one flea can lay anywhere from 150 to 300 eggs per week. A single bed bug lays around 200 eggs in a lifetime, which is around 10 months to one year.

Bed bugs cannot fly or jump, so they need to be able to crawl across the floor or your bed in order to feed. Fleas are able to jump as high as 200 times their body length, or approximately 13 inches. These tiny pests use their jumping ability to hitch a ride between hosts to find new places to live or sources of food.

In terms of disease, so far, there's no evidence that bed bugs can pass on pathogens to humans. However, fleas spread a variety of diseases including typhus, the plague, and cat-scratch fever.


Physical Characteristics

There are some other things to keep in mind when determining whether you may have bed bugs vs fleas. First, as soon as you see the pest, try to grab it with a piece of clear tape so it can't escape. Examine the insect closely before you contact your local pest control company.

When you observe the insect, look for reddish-brown colors and a flat, seed-like shape. This is the typical silhouette of bed bug, which also measures approximately 1.5 mm to 5 mm in length.

For fleas, they should also appear reddish-brown in color, but they have a much more oval body shape. Fleas look skinny and long, while bed bugs tend to look flatter in appearance. Fleas are much smaller than bed bugs in most cases and don't normally get bigger than 3.3 mm long.

Another way to find out if you have bed bugs or fleas is via their habits. Bed bugs are nocturnal insects so if you don't see any pests during the day, they're probably busy digesting their meal. These nasty pests could be hanging out around the piping on your mattress, inside the bed frame or box spring, or near baseboards and cracks.

Fleas are also nocturnal, but you can usually spot them quickly on your pets or carpeting. These tiny biting insects tend to hang out near upholstery or carpets and rugs until they find a new host to hop on so they can feed.


Recognizing Bites 

Whether you're dealing with bed bugs or fleas, these pests can inflict some nasty bites on humans or animals. In order to determine which one you have, it's important to understand what to look for if you think your or your pets have been bitten. You can also go here: for tips to help you learn how to get rid of a bed bug infestation.

Flea bites tend to look like a small cluster of mosquito bites. They're usually very small and look like tiny dots with a dark red center radiating from the puncture site of the flea's mouth. Usually, flea bites are randomly placed on the body.

If you think you may have a bed bug bite, they typically show up as raised, flat red welts that are red in color. Bites are usually in a straight line or a row and consist of around three to four bites. The redness is a result of the bed bugs using anesthesia and anticoagulants found in their saliva.

You may notice a red bump that becomes swollen around one hour after a bite, known as a "flea wheel." The itching starts immediately and doesn't let up, which can lead to a blister or an open sore in a day or two if it's not treated.

While flea bites show up immediately, bed bug bites can take a few days to one full week to appear. Over time, the bite starts to itch more profoundly as the anesthetic in their saliva wears off. Bed bugs will bite every seven to 10 days, while fleas feed several times throughout the day.


Protect Your Home from Pests

Once you know more about the differences between bed bugs vs fleas, it will be easier to correct the problem. Make sure your home and pets are clean and when in doubt, contact your local professional pest control company as soon as possible.

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Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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