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Bed Bugs vs. Ticks vs. Fleas

Before you can tackle a pest problem, you need to correctly identify the pest. This can be difficult when pests share similarities in appearance and habits. Though bed bugs, ticks, and fleas have a few things in common, there are things that set them apart from one another. We’ve gathered information to help you spot the difference between bed bugs, ticks, and fleas.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed Bug

Bed bugs are small pests measuring less than ¼ʺ. They have a reddish-brown, oval-shaped body that becomes darker and larger after feeding. These pests don’t have any wings. Adult bed bugs can usually be spotted, while nymphs are harder to detect. Bed bugs often leave behind reddish-brown spots on mattresses and bedding.  

What Do Ticks Look Like?


Like bed bugs, ticks are oval and flat until they feed. There are several species of ticks, and each varies in appearance and size. Most ticks are brown and some have a red tint or white markings. These arachnids don’t have wings. Male ticks are usually smaller than females.  

Common Tick Species

  • Blacklegged Tick: About 1/8ʺ and has a brown body with black legs.
  • American Dog Tick: About 3/16ʺ and has a brown body with white markings.
  • Brown Dog Tick: About 1/8ʺ and has a reddish-brown body.
  • Lone Star Tick: About 1/8ʺ and has a reddish-brown body. Females have a distinct white dot on their back.
  • Rocky Mountain Wood Tick: Grows between 1/8ʺ-5/8ʺ and has a reddish-brown body with gray markings.

What Do Fleas Look Like?


Fleas have a long, narrow body that ranges in size from 1/12ʺ-1/6ʺ depending on the species. Most fleas have a brown body, but some may be darker. After feeding, their body takes on a reddish hue. These pests have strong legs that make them excellent jumpers. Cat and dog fleas are the most common species, and both are 1/8ʺ and have brownish-black bodies.

Where Do Bed Bugs Live?

Bed bug on bed

Bed bugs like to stay close to their preferred host—humans. These pests are small and can squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices. They’re typically found in bedrooms, but they can spread to other areas in the house. You can find bed bugs on bedding, mattresses, headboards, sofas, furniture, home décor, electrical outlets, luggage, vehicles, and even in books. These pests hitch rides on people and their belongings, which lets them spread easily and quickly.

Where Do Ticks Live?

Tick on plant

Ticks can be found throughout the United States. They prefer to live in wooded areas or places with vegetation. In backyards, they live in tall grass, woodpiles, leaf piles, and overgrown plants and shrubs. These pests wait in their habitats for potential hosts to pass by them.  

Where Do Fleas Live?

Dog scratching

Fleas prefer to live in warm and humid environments. Unlike bed bugs and ticks, these pests live on the host for as long as they can. Fleas can be carried into homes on pets as well as humans. Once inside, they remain close to the host. You may spot them in pet bedding, on the floor, and on furniture.

How to Identify Bed Bug, Tick, & Flea Bites

Bug bites on legs

One of the main concerns with these pests is their biting habits. Bed bugs, ticks, and fleas all require blood meals to survive. Each human or animal will respond differently to these bites, but there are common reactions.  

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs prefer to feed on humans. These pests are active at night and usually bite when people are sleeping. Not all bed bug bites result in physical symptoms. Some will experience clusters of red, itchy bumps.

Tick Bites

Tick bites are usually found when someone notices a tick still on them. Reactions don’t always occur, but if you develop a bullseye rash, you should contact your doctor. Ticks should carefully be removed with tweezers as soon as they are spotted. It’s important to ensure both the head and mouthparts are completely removed.

Flea Bites

Fleas prefer to have cat or dog hosts. However, they will feed on humans if no other food source is available. Flea bites result in itchy, red bumps with a red ring around it. You’ll often notice these on legs and ankles. If pets are dealing with fleas, you’ll likely see them excessively scratching or licking. You may also find dark specks in their fur or near their bed. 

How to Prevent Bed Bugs, Ticks, & Fleas

Dog getting a bath

Dealing with biting pests is never an ideal situation. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of encountering these pests.

  • Maintain Your Yard: Keep your grass and vegetation trimmed to limit hiding spots. Remove woodpiles and any yard debris including leaf litter and grass clippings.
  • Be Careful When Traveling: Before settling into a hotel room, examine the bed and furniture for signs of bed bugs. Keep your luggage off the floor. When you get home, wash and dry clothing on high heat settings.
  • Regularly Bathe Your Pets: To avoid these pests hitchhiking on your furry family members, give them regular baths. This will help to remove any pests that may have latched on to them.
  • Use a Bug Spray: When spending time outside, you can apply a plant-based bug spray to repel ticks. Our Natural Insect Repellent will help to keep ticks, as well as mosquitoes and flies, away from you.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs, Ticks, & Fleas

Bed Bug Killer, Mosquito & Tick Killer, Bed Bug & Flea Killer

Unfortunately, bed bugs, ticks, and fleas will slip through the cracks and invade your space. Here are a few tips to help you get rid of these pests.

  • Bed Bugs: Wash and dry bedding or any clothes exposed to bed bugs on high heat settings. Vacuum the area and your suitcase if they traveled home with you. Apply an insecticide dust, like our Bed Bug Killer, to help eliminate the infestation.
  • Ticks: Spraying your yard with a plant-based insecticide spray will help rid your yard of ticks. Our Mosquito & Tick Killer will kill ticks on contact and provide you with a residual repellency, which will deter ticks from entering your yard.
  • Fleas: You’ll want to treat both your pets and your home to get rid of fleas. Check with your veterinarian to see what they recommend for your pet. Our Bed Bug & Flea Killer can help to kill adult fleas, but it should not be applied to your pets. Vacuuming can help to remove flea eggs from your home.
When biting pests invade your space, it’s important to know what you’re up against. This will make it easier to eliminate the problem. If you’re dealing with a pest problem, we have your back! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Pest Control products for a more environmentally and family-friendly solution.

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