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How to Differentiate Between Fleas and Bed Bugs? Find Out

How to Differentiate Between Fleas and Bed Bugs? Find Out

Posted by Muzi On 06 Aug, 2018

Fleas and Bed Bugs are both insects that suck human blood but they are yet very different. Snake bites are treated differently based on if they are poisonous or not. Similarly, you need to know the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites because they require different treatments. When you are aware of what insect actually bit you, you can medicate yourself properly.


  • Fleas: Adult fleas are brown in colour. They can reach the size of 3mm in length but are very hard to spot. They have a flat body with bristles facing back which helps them move through hair and feathers. They can fly too and their strong hind legs allow them to jump 50 times their body size. They have claws on their legs to give them grip, which is why even if you scratch they still won't get off your body. Their adult mouth can pierce through the skin which allows them to suck your blood.
  • Bed Bugs: Bed bugs are brown and sometimes reddish in colour. They are 5mm in length and 2mm in width. They have a flat vertical and oval appearance. They can't fly, they don't have any hind wings and their front ones are immature. They feed on a variety of sources and even on humans when there is no other prey available. Bed bugs are more resilient and can withstand a great variety of temperatures and atmospheres by semi-hibernation.


  • Fleas: They mostly prefer damp and dark places. They also can be found in places that retain moisture such places are cushioned furniture, cracks along the wall and between the floor boarding. The larvae spin a cocoon in which they stay in until they mature and can stay there for up to 5 months. They get activated when they sense a mammal nearby through the vibrations caused by movement or their carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Bed Bugs: Besides living in your bed, bed bugs can temporarily live in backpacks, car seats, suitcases, cushioning and even your shoes. Bed bugs love fabric and dark cracks in which they can slither; hence it is common for clothing stores to get infested by bed bugs. They are resistant to mechanical pressure which allows them to hide in plain sight. They do not stick to their food source like fleas do but instead wait and feed in the night when people are asleep.

Bite patterns

  • Fleas: They generally prick us near the ankle and the leg because they can access it easier. The prick can be felt instantaneously and gets red within an hour. The swelling is similar to a mosquito bites swelling but is comparatively smaller. Their bites don’t have a particular pattern but are random.
  • Bed Bugs: Bed bugs have the ability to bite you anywhere since you are asleep and unaware but then tend to bite where the skin is exposed, places like the neck, face, arms and the hands. Their bites are rough and it might not even swell up like that of a flea. There is a red dot in the centre of the bite, their bites are mainly in a cluster and linear.


  • Fleas: Continuously scratching a flea bite can cause an infection. Rubbing lavender oil can help soothe your skin and help remove any discomfort. The itching that we feel is our skin's reaction to their saliva and not because of the bite. They are a potential vector for diseases like murine typhus, bubonic plague and tungiasis.
  • Bed Bugs: Just like flea bites, bed bug bites itch too and can be potential vectors for diseases and infections. There can be allergic reactions due to their attack and hence it is necessary to keep the affected area cleaned until it has healed fully. Even though bed bugs can carry diseases study shows that they do not transmit them. Bed bug bites affect our sleep and our mental health due to disturbance of sleep and can even go to the extreme of causing depression due to lack of effective sleep.

Knowing what these small pests are capable of doing to us physically as well as mentally we should not take our bites very lightly but instead pay close attention to them and make sure to fix the problem by doing a routine check of your house and getting rid of any bugs that might be present and planning to attack you or your beloved pet. Therefore, it is important to know the difference between fleas and bed bugs and to take the correct remedy for that bite.

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