How to Tell the Difference Between Fleas and Bedbugs

Ever see small bugs in your bed and wonder what they are? Are they fleas that the dogs brought in, or could they be bed bugs? Both bed bugs and fleas are pests that can bring unwanted consequences to your home. While they both can make you itch, there are several things that set the two apart from each other.

Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. They hide in purses, luggage and other personal belongings in an effort to find a human food supply. These bugs likely get their name from their habit of feeding on humans while they sleep in their beds. One bed bug can lay 200 eggs in a lifetime, which is approximately a year. Fleas are different in that they transport themselves on household pets and wild animals, and are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. The most common species is the cat flea, which often feasts on cats, dogs and humans. One flea can lay between 150 and 300 eggs every week.

Here are some other ways to compare fleas and bedbugs:

  • Shape: Both are small, wingless reddish brown insects. Where bed bugs are flat and look like apple seeds, fleas have a more oval shape that tends to be long and skinny. Fleas are also smaller, ranging in length from 1.5 mm to 3.3 mm. Bed bugs are visible to the human eye, but both fleas and bed bugs often enter homes unnoticed.
  • Activity: Both fleas and bed bugs are considered to be nocturnal, meaning they feed and are more active at night. Bed bugs are likely to be digesting meals on the piping of your mattress, in and around the bed frame or box spring, along the baseboards and creeping around in other well-hidden cracks and crevices. Fleas are most often found clinging to your pets, making themselves at home in animal sleeping areas or lurking around in your upholstery or carpeting, waiting to hop on for a bite.
  • Bites: Flea bites are most commonly found on the legs, feet, waist, or armpits but can appear anywhere the insect has access to. The bites will often look red, swollen, somewhat blotchy, and may constantly itch. There may be a dark red center in the bite, from the single puncture of the flea’s specially built mouth. They commonly come with rashes as well, and are often described as resembling a cluster of mosquito bites. Bed bug bites are typically different from flea bites and can resemble small, hard, swollen lumps similar to a mosquito bite and appear most often on the hands, neck, and arms. Like with fleas, bed bug bites may itch as well. Bed bug bites often appear in a straight row or line, consisting of three or four bites, though this is not always the case.

Whether you have fleas or bed bugs, early detection and treatment is crucial. While bed bugs do not pose any major health risks, fleas are known carriers of bacterial infections, as well as the now rare bubonic plague. At Alexandria Pest Services, our expert technicians will provide a free inspection to determine your pest issue and come up with a customized plan to treat the issue. Contact Alexandria Pest Services at 703-923-0925 today to schedule an appointment.


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