- Both bed bugs and mosquitos feed on human blood. Most of us at least once got bitten by these insects and experienced red bumps and a nasty itch as a result.
- There are clouds of mosquitos, especially in the warm months like summer, and they become exceptionally active in the dark. Bed bugs are more discreet, but they suck our blood maliciously all year long.
- Learn to differentiate symptoms to avoid mosquitoes, bed bugs, and other insect bites and stay away from unpleasant skin reactions and bites itch. Mosquitos can be repelled with easily accessible products, while pest control against bed bugs may include checking box spring, bed frame, and other typical bed bug sites.
Skin irritations and itching after contact with both types of insects may seem similar.
Moreover, various people have different reactions to the same bite, so it’s even more challenging to draw the line between these insects’ bites.
On one person, a bed bug bite may look like red welts, rashes on another, and raised blisters on the next human victim.
All in all, telling bedbug bites and mosquito bites apart may take some knowledge. And that’s what we’re here for!
Tip: It’s not always possible to recognize the bite visually. You’ll also need context and other cues.
How to tell the difference between bites from bed bugs and mosquitoes?
Let’s have a look at a few essential aspects.
Some bites may be severe and require immediate medical attention. Read on Healthline what severe symptoms to look for if you’re worried about persistent bite marks.
Bed bug bites differ between people—your bites may be itchy and irritating, while others will experience swollen, painful reactions to these insects.
Important: Allergic reaction to bed bugs, although it happens rarely, may include life-threatening Anaphylaxis that affects the whole body, starting with a feeling of the throat closing up.
Mosquito bites are caused by female mosquitoes. They are the only mosquitoes that bite.
Mosquitoes prefer to bite in the dark and are fly to human sweat, carbon dioxide, and warmth. Mosquitos are also attracted to standing water.
As a rule of thumb, bed bug bites are red and itchy and sometimes have a blister on top.
There are usually several bed bug bites at a time, often in groups of three to five, that appear where you have exposed skin when you sleep. They usually occur in a cluster in a straight-line or zigzag pattern.
Bed bug bites tend to occur in areas you expose during sleep (unlike flea bites found mainly around the ankles).
With mosquito bites, look for a raised white welt with oddly shaped, red boundaries that will self-resolve fast within a day or two.
Mosquito bites resemble red bumps with a puncture wound in the center. They can also take the shape of welts or larger raised areas, but it’s rare.
The immune system responds to mosquito saliva, causing an itching sensation.
Mosquito bites are isolated and appear randomly throughout the whole body, especially on body parts that clothing doesn’t cover.
If you notice other bites, maybe they aren’t caused by mosquito stings or bed bug infestation, but other insects, such as
- flies—its bite can itch and blister on the skin,
- fleas—they also appear in clusters, similar to bed bug bites; in some people, flea bites can swell up in less than an hour and possibly turn into an open sore or blister in less than a day,
- spiders—spider bites are red and swell; those can be really dangerous.
- mites—for example, scabies burrow into the skin, creating tunnels and causing inflammation and itching;
People typically don’t feel bed bug bites, and it can take hours or days for reactions caused by bed bug bites to show up.
If there’s no further irritation, symptoms resolve after less than a week.
Six seconds is enough for mosquito saliva to enter the bloodstream and cause a reaction, so mosquito bites are often instantly itchy and visible. Typically, they disappear after one or two days.
Also, while typically everyone will react to a mosquito bite, some people don’t have reactions to bed bug bites at all.
Not only itching and irritated skin but also diseases such as
- West Nile fever,
- dengue fever,
- Zika, and
may result from a mosquito bite.
Important: Mosquitos transmit diseases that kill over 725,000 people worldwide each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Public health experts claim bed bugs don’t spread disease.
Mosquito bite symptoms are well-known itchy, red bumps with puncture wounds in the middle that appear immediately or within a few hours or days after the bite.
Allergic reaction to mosquito’s saliva may lead to:
- swollen joints, or even
Bed bug symptoms include small, raised, unsightly red bumps that are itchy and may come with a blister in groups of three to five, creating a distinct pattern of a straight-line or zigzag pattern.
Bed bug insect bites show up on the hands, arms, shoulders, neck, face, and legs.
In general, neither bed bug bite symptoms nor bites caused by a mosquito problem require medical treatment unless a person experiences an allergic reaction.
Important: If you feel your throat is closing up, you may be going through Anaphylaxis, a rare response to bug bites. If this is the case, seek medical help immediately.
The essential rules of treating bed bug bites and mosquito bites are similar, even though these two species and their bites have different characteristics:
- keep the affected area clean and dry,
- wash the bites with soap and water,
- don’t scratch not to cause skin irritations or break the skin, which can, in turn, cause secondary problems,
- use antiseptic lotions to protect the skin and anti-itch creams to relieve itching,
- if necessary, take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine;
If you’re developing secondary infections because of the bite, you may require medical attention.
If you have a large number of bites, develop fever, hives, swelling, blisters, or pus, and you get no relief from OTC anti-itch medications, seek help!