You may be wondering how to tell if you have bed bugs or fleas, the best place to start is looking at the bugs themselves. It is also possible that fleas and bed bug bites can look alike; however, there are some ways to identify the differences between the them. Continue reading to identify these differences and determine if you are facing bed bugs or fleas.

We know you do not care whether you are facing bed bugs or fleas, you just want them gone. Immediately. However, it is important to know which of these tiny arthropods is in your home, before all the scratching makes you lose it. In both cases, treatments are required.  Nevertheless, the best treatment depends on whether you are dealing with bed bugs or fleas, as a different one is needed for each case.

How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs or Fleas
How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs or Fleas

How are Fleas and Bed Bugs Different?

Fleas usually choose to feed on furry or hairy pets such as dogs and cats, while bed bugs prefer to feed on your family, even though both arthropods need a host with warm blood to provide them with meals.

Therefore, bed bugs are usually brought into the home by people, whereas fleas are associated with outdoor wildlife and pets such as dogs and cats.

Adult fleas can only survive for about two weeks, while in the pupa stage (without a host) they can live for several months. On the other hand, adult bed bugs can live up to a year between feedings.

In approximately 10 months to one year (a bed bug’s lifetime) 200 eggs can be laid by one bed bug, whereas between 150 and 300 eggs can be laid every week by only one flea.

Fleas can jump near 200 times their body length (13 inches), which helps them become “stowaways” as they transfer from one host to another (you and your family) to get new food sources. Bed bugs must crawl across your mattress to feed, as they neither fly nor jump.

Some infections such as cat-scratch fever, typhus and plague can be spread by fleas, while no pathogens have been found being transmitted from bed bugs to humans.

How are Fleas and Bed Bugs Different?
How are Fleas and Bed Bugs Different?

How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs or Fleas

Both bed bugs and fleas can be a nightmare. You can immobilize one of these invaders with a piece of clear adhesive tape if you get to catch one. This way you will be able to examine the bug before showing it to a pest control expert, while you also make sure it does not escape to bite again. Despite the sharing of some similarities, here are some differences between fleas and bed bugs that will help you know how to tell if you have bed bugs or fleas:

  1. Bed bugs are flat and have the shape of a seed, with a length from 1.5 mm to 5 mm, in a reddish-brown color.
  2. When comparing bed bugs vs fleas, shape is a noticeable difference. Fleas are usually smaller than bed bugs, as they range from 1.5 mm to 3.3 mm long. Their color is similar; however, they are oval-shaped insects that seem to be skinnier and longer.
  3. If you get to see a bed bug, chances are you see it between meals in and around the box spring or bed frame, on your mattress’ piping or hidden in other cracks or holes, as it is a nocturnal insect.
  4. Fleas can be found in animal beds, carpeting and upholstery, waiting to jump on a host to get a bite (or even on them if they have already found one). They are also nocturnal bugs, but it is less common to find them in cracks.
How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs or Fleas
How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs or Fleas

Flea vs Bed Bug Bites 

Chances are you have invaders (like bed bugs or fleas) if you find yourself scratching at itchy red marks on your skin. Look for bite marks on your children and pets too.  Signs of bites can vary from one person to another; however, if you want to know how to tell if you have bed bugs or fleas, we will give you some clues to find it out:

  1. We can see a dot with a dark center as a result from a flea bite, which is a single puncture caused by its peculiar mouth to suck blood. These marks can be found in random parts of the host, resembling mosquito bites clusters.
  2. Bug bites in a row pattern (three or four bites) are usually seen when it comes to bed bug bites, but this not a rule. Due to the anesthesia and anticoagulants in the bug’s saliva, these bites show up as an allergic reaction with the presence of raised, red wheals.
  3. Less than 60 minutes after a flea bite, a swollen red bump can be seen, while an immediate and persistent itching starts. After a couple of days, the bite can become an open sore or blister.
  4. On the other hand, bed bug bite marks can start appearing up to a week after the bite. As the anesthetic effect reduces, the itching increases gradually.
  5. From every seven to 10 days, bed bugs will feed while you sleep. So, if you let them, adult female fleas will have blood meals many hours a day, at daytime or nighttime.

Best Tips Moving Forward for Removing Pests

Now that you can easily tell the difference between bed bugs and fleas, you may be wondering the best way to remove those pests for good. Removing bed bugs permanently can be quite the task, but worth the effort. You will also want to ensure you are taking all precautions to prevent those pests from becoming an infestation and coming back.