Mosquito bite or bed bug bite
Getting bitten by a mosquito sucks. They literally suck your blood and can leave you itching for days. Worst of all, you may never realize that you got bit until you’re itching like crazy.
Bed bugs are a whole other story. “Sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Most of us grew up hearing that nursery rhyme. But, have you ever thought about how terrifying it is to get bitten while sleeping? Talk about a boogey monster but in real life. You can barely see them since adults reach 5-7 mm in length while immature bed bugs are even tinier.
So why would bed bugs bite in the first place? Like mosquitoes, bed bugs actively hunt for a blood meal so they can reproduce. Female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite humans or other animals. But, both male and female bed bugs can come after you or your pets. Ouch!
But have you ever wondered if the itchy insect bites on your skin are from mosquitos or bed bugs? Find out in this blog!
The Difference Between Mosquito and Bed Bug Bites
The way that mosquitoes and bed bugs bite people is very similar. They both use a proboscis or sharp tube to pierce our skin. Both of their bites can then lead to itching (due to histamine release). But sometimes, neither mosquitos nor bed bugs leave any marks on your body at all.
What distinguishes a mosquito bite from a bed bug bite? Both mosquito and bed bug bites can have a similar appearance, but there are a few key differences:
Bed bugs come out and feed at night (but they’ll also feed in the daytime if given the chance). If you’ve been getting bites on your skin, and you haven’t been outside much, chances are they’re bed bugs. But don’t forget that mosquitoes are also active at night (usually dawn and dusk). If inside your house, they’re smart enough to find you while you’re sleeping. This is because they’re attracted to the CO2 we release when we exhale.
- Bed bug bites usually appear in a straight line, zig-zag, or cluster pattern (triangle, circular or bunched). These patterns occur since the same bed bug will typically bite more than once.
- Bed bug bite marks can take up to one or a few days to show up.
- If you wake up with a bunch of bites on your body, it’s possible that you’re dealing with bed bugs.
- If you notice reddish stains on your sheets, it could signal blood and feces from bugs you crushed while sleeping.
With mosquitos, unless you capture and examine them under a microscope, it’s difficult to tell which species bit you. With bed bugs it’s simpler since there are only two main species that bite people. Cimex lectularius is the common bed bug that you’ll find almost anywhere around the world. Cimex hemipterus is mainly found in tropical climates.
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- Mosquito bites can appear randomly around your body with no specific pattern.
- You’ll notice mosquito bites fast since it produces itching shortly after the bite.
Just remember not to scratch any insect bite too much. Resist the urge to scratch the bite mark since you could break the skin and cause a bacterial infection. If you’re looking for fast relief from mosquito bites, check out the solutions discussed in another blog post. Those same exact solutions can be applied for bed bug bites as well.
Should I be worried about the bites?
Unless you live where mosquito-borne illnesses are common, chances are you’ll have nothing to worry about. A majority of mosquito bites only produce itching and don’t cause any disease at all. In a separate blog we cover some details on three deadly mosquito groups that can cause serious illness.
Bed bug bites on the other hand are generally harmless. Up until today scientists haven’t found bed bugs to directly transmit diseases to humans the way mosquitoes can. But one study did find that bed bugs have a potential ability to transmit the deadly Chagas pathogen. This can lead to Chagas disease. Don’t be too alarmed since we currently don’t have any known cases of Chagas from bed bug bites.
Bed bug bites only cause itching, along with mental stress and paranoia knowing you’re getting bitten by creepy bugs. Also, bed bugs are able to survive over a year without eating, most mosquitoes will die within a month.
So if you want to sleep tight and not let bed bugs bite, here are some tips. And what about the mosquitoes?
How to prevent yourself from getting bit
To prevent bites, you need to understand mosquitoes and bed bugs radically different lifestyles.
Mosquito adults can land on any part of your body where there’s exposed skin since they actively fly around. They can also bite through your clothing if it’s thin enough. Bed bugs however don’t actually have wings, and they’re restricted to crawling on the ground. They typically can’t bite through any clothing. If you’ve ever been bitten even with pajamas on, it’s likely that they just crawled under your clothes. Even though mosquitoes and bed bugs can’t jump around, fleas can. So be careful if you have pets around since fleas can spread between pets and people and bite both.
Mosquito Bite Prevention
We cover how to prevent mosquito bites in greater detail in this blog here. But in short summary, to prevent mosquito bites (especially around your home) you should do the following:
- Remove any source of standing water. Remember, mosquitoes breed wherever there is a pool of water. You can knock out part of your mosquito problem by getting rid of their prime habitat.
- Use an insect repellent with 30% or less DEET. Or consider non-toxic alternatives to DEET that contain essential oils like citronella and lemongrass. Use these repellents outside, never spray indoors!
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Bed Bug Prevention
Bed bugs are hard to get rid of due to their small size and behavior (they can hide almost anywhere!) To prevent yourself from getting bit, you’ll need a little more sophisticated approach:
- Bed bugs hide inside picture frames, electrical outlets, and tiny cracks and crevices. Eliminate excess clutter and organize space in your home to reduce the possible areas where they hide.
- Remember to wash bedding frequently and heat-dry to kill any bed bug adults or eggs that have been laid. Also, clean out the laundry containers you use to transport your clothes. Bed bugs can hang out there too.
- If you stay at a hotel, keep your suitcases off of the ground. Bed bugs can easily hitch a ride and end up unexpectedly at your house. Consider wrapping your suitcase in plastic during your travels since bed bugs are commonly spread by other travelers unknowingly.
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- If your bed bug problem is too big to handle on your own, call a pest control company. They will figure out where the bed bugs are hiding and breeding in your house. If you decide to go with this option, try to find a company that minimizes use of synthetic chemicals. These can be harmful to your health and to the health of your kids and pets. Some pest control companies are starting to embrace natural, organic pest control. So, look for those with a solid track record.
After reading this blog, you should now feel confident enough to tell the difference between mosquito and bed bug bites. You’re also armed with some practical knowledge of reducing your chances of getting bit by these pesky bugs.
For more information on dealing with everyday insect pests like mosquitoes, fruit flies, gnats, and others, check out our blog.
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