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Bed Bugs vs. Fleas

Bed bugs and fleas are two blood-sucking insects that you don’t want in your home. They often are confused for one another. While they share some similarities, there are also distinct differences between the two bugs. From their bites to their hosts, we’ve gathered information to help you correctly identify these pests.

Bed bugs vs. fleas

Similarities Between Bed Bugs & Fleas

Check out a few characteristics that these pests share.

  • They Survive on a Host’s Blood: Bed bugs and fleas feed on the blood of their host. They both are known to bite humans and animals.
  • Similar Coloring: These pests have a brown body. Bed bugs and fleas take on more of a reddish hue after feeding.
  • They Are Visible: Though these bugs are small, they are visible to the unaided eye.
  • They Are Stealthy: Bed bugs and fleas are sneaky and can find their way into your home virtually undetected. They hitch a ride on you, your pets, and your items.
  • They Bite: When bed bugs and fleas bite, they can leave you with red, itchy bumps.

Differences Between Bed Bugs & Fleas

Check out what sets these pests apart from one another.

  • Different Size & Shape: Bed bugs are flat and oval, while fleas are long and narrow. Though these pests are both small, they aren’t the same size. Bed bugs are less than ¼ʺ and fleas are about 1/8ʺ.
  • They Prefer Different Hosts: Bed bugs prefer human hosts, while fleas prefer animal hosts. However, bed bugs will feed on animal blood and fleas will feed on human blood if their preferred host is absent.
  • They Move Differently: Bed bugs move slower than fleas and they don’t fly or jump. Fleas don’t fly, but their strong legs allow them to jump onto hosts. These pests move quickly.
  • They Have Different Hiding Spots: Bed bugs stay close to their host, hiding in cracks and crevices. They can be found on the mattress, headboard, bedding, and furniture. Fleas spend most of their time on hosts. However, their eggs, larvae, and pupae may be found in carpet, furniture, drapes, and pet bedding.
  • Their Bites Look Different: Bed bug bites appear in clusters of red, itchy bumps on areas exposed while sleeping. Some people won’t have a reaction to their bite. Fleas cause red, itchy bumps with a red ring about the bite. They typically bite on legs and ankles.

Bed Bug Bites vs. Flea Bites

Flea bites

One of the biggest differences between bed bugs and fleas is their bite. Flea bites can be really itchy and appear as red bumps. They usually have a red ring around the bite. Three or four bites are typically grouped together. Flea bites are most commonly found on legs and ankles. However, they can also bite elbows, armpits, and knees.

Not everyone will develop symptoms from a bed bug bite. If you do, they will be red, itchy bumps. Unlike flea bites, they won’t have a red halo. You’ll notice clusters of bites in a line or zig-zag pattern. These bites can take time to show up. Bed bugs bite while you sleep, so any areas exposed at night can be bitten.

How Do You Know if You Have Bed Bugs or Fleas?

Here are some common signs that you might have bed bugs in your home.

  • Bed Bug Activity: Spotting bed bugs is the most obvious sign of an infestation. They can be found on your bed, bedframe, headboard, or even in a nightstand drawer. If you find one, there’s a good chance others are hiding nearby.
  • Spots on Bedding: If you see reddish-brown stains on your sheets and mattress, you could be dealing with bed bugs. These spots occur when bed bugs are crushed. Darker spots that look like pepper flakes could be bed bug droppings.
  • Odor: When bed bugs release pheromones, an unpleasant musty odor occurs. The heavier the infestation, the stronger the odor will be.
  • Spotting Eggs & Skin: You may also notice molted skin, which will have a golden tint to it. Eggs are white and look like a grain of rice, which can make it difficult to spot them.

    Signs of Fleas in Your House

    Dog scratching itch

    We’ve made a list of things that can alert you to a flea problem.

    • Flea Activity: You may notice fleas on your furry family members or hopping around on your carpet, furniture, and pet bedding. If you spot tiny, white flakes, it could be flea eggs.
    • Pet Scratching: When fleas bite your pets, it irritates their skin. If they start scratching or licking consistently, you may want to check for fleas.
    • Changes in Your Pet’s Appearance: When your pet repeatedly scratches at a spot, it can cause them to lose hair. Red patches may also develop from flea bites. In severe cases, your pet’s gums may become pale hinting to a loss of blood.
    • Flea Dirt: Flea droppings can also be a sign of a flea problem. They are black or reddish-brown and look like ground pepper flakes. You may notice them on your pet, their bedding, or the floor.

    The first step to getting rid of pests is correctly identifying them. Knowing the differences between fleas and bed bugs will help you fight an infestation. If pests are giving you a fit, we’re here to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products for a more environmentally and family-friendly solution.

    What are your go-to strategies to get rid of fleas and bed bugs at home? Post a comment. We’d love to hear from you! 

    For scientifically-tested, effective flea and bed bug control in your home and yard that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.

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