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How to Identify A Bed Bug Bite

Identifying Bed Bug Bites

We'd like to say it is easy to identify bed bug bites but, sadly, that isn't the case. The problem is, there are a lot of bugs that can bite us, and what those bites look like depends on several factors. Let's see if we can unpack this in a way that will give you clear guidance in determining which bug you're dealing with.

bed bug bites on a human resident in pennsylvania

The Anatomy Of A Bed Bug Bite

Now that you have an idea of the kind of bites you could get, let's look at the ways bed bug bites stand out from other bites. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are there a lot of bites? Bed bugs come out in groups when they feed. If you have bed bug bites, you're likely to have several of them.

  • Do your bites follow a path? Bed bugs usually feed three times during the night. Some entomologists call these bites breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you see a three-bite pattern within your group of bites, or your bites follow a larger path up your skin, it is likely that you were bitten by bed bugs.

  • Do your bites have a rash? Bed bug bites can have a significant rash associated with them. Most often, the rash is isolated to each individual bite wound.

  • Do you have painful welts? Bed bugs can sometimes cause red, swollen welts. These welts can be very uncomfortable, especially if there are several in one localized area.

  • Do you have bites on your shoulders or above? These insects are drawn to carbon dioxide which we exhale while sleeping. This can lure bed bugs to bite your shoulders, neck, face, or head.

Sometimes, bed bug bites are hardly noticeable. When newly hatched bed bugs feed, they leave smaller bites that usually go undetected. Over time, and after several bite events, bite wounds usually become worse, but 30% of people have very little reaction to bed bug bites, even over time. This percentage is even higher for seniors.

Ruling Out Other Bug Bites

The first step in determining whether or not you have bed bug bites is to rule out other bites. Here are some bites that can look similar to bed bug bites and how to tell them apart:

Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes generally cause bites that are puffy in appearance and associated with a light rash. These bites will appear randomly on the skin, and usually in locations that would normally be exposed when going outside. If you haven't been in an area that has a lot of mosquitoes, there is no reason that you should have multiple mosquito bites.

Flea Bites

Flea bites are very itchy and uncomfortable. For this reason, you are likely to see scabs on flea bites. These bites should be a dark red color and appear randomly across the skin. You're also more likely to find flea bites around your ankles and legs than above your waist.

Chigger Bites

Chiggers leave red welts on areas of the skin where clothing is pressed against the skin such as the waistline. They are also likely to occur on your ankles and legs. However, chiggers are an outdoor pest, so you shouldn't expect to have chigger bites if you haven't been spending time out in the great outdoors.

Spider Bites

Spider bites can vary in appearance. Many spider bites look similar to flea or bed bug bites. When ruling this pest out, you have to look at the number of bites. Spiders don't have reason to bite people as they don't eat blood like bed bugs and fleas do. Bites from spiders typically only occur when the spider is startled or feels threatened. If you have several red welts that all look the same, it's highly unlikely that those are spider bites.

Tick Bites

Tick bites may be easier to identify as the tick is often still attached to the skin; ticks feed for a day or more. Bites from deer ticks, the ticks associated with Lyme disease, may also develop a bullseye rash.

Gnat Bites

These bites look like flea bites, but can be found on areas of the skin that are usually uncovered. If you have tiny, random bites on areas of exposed skin, those could be gnat bites. The key word is random.

Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite

If you're waking up with bug bites you can't explain, give us a call! Whatever bug is biting you, you can be sure that the team here at Moyer Pest Control can get rid of them. We offer thorough bed bug inspections that can detect and confirm the presence of bed bugs. If bed bugs are confirmed in your home, we will provide effective bed bug control treatments to take care of what's bugging you!

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