Bed bugs or rat mites?

Question: Several months ago we found rat droppings in one of our crawl spaces. We had pest guys come out, and they closed up a few possible entry points in our roof. I don’t know how long the droppings were there, or when the rats came through. In the summer we occasionally get bitten, and then it seems to stop during the colder months. This year we are bitten a lot. We have found and identified rat fleas in our house (mostly catching them in our bed), which could definitely be the source of our bites.

However, I’m wondering if we could also have rat mites? If so, do they tend to die and not be a problem with the rats not here, or will we need to have the house treated to kill them? Also how do we tell if we have rat mites?

Answer: According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the one type of rodent mite that will readily bite people is the tropical rat mite (Ornythonyssus bacoti). Other types of rodent mites that will bite people are the house mouse mite (Liponyssoides sanguineus) and the spiny rat mite (Laelaps echidnina). If you suspect that you may be suffering from these very tiny insect bites, you need to seek medical assistance, as they are a public health issue. Structural pest control specialists will not be able to assist you in this issue; a trained doctor is what you should seek out.

This being said, you could have bed bugs—and not rat mites. In some regions of the country the frequency of bed bugs has been increasing. While they are a nuisance and deliver some painful bites, bed bugs can be controlled with some careful cleaning and a little insecticide.

These small, reddish-brown insects hide during the day and emerge at night to take a blood meal from people sleeping. They will also bite other mammals. Bed bugs take 3 to 15 minutes to feed, and may not feed again for two to three days. The bite produces a hard swelling and is whitish in color; it usually is irritated and continues to bleed. It may turn into an itchy rash in a day or so.

Check to see that there are no new or recently abandoned bird nests close to the room (check the attic). There are ”cousins” to bed bugs that live in these nests (or are associated with bats) and can move from there to feeding on people.

If in doubt, contact Orkin to conduct a thorough inspection of your home to make sure you do not have a bed bug infestation, and, if you do, develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Here is more information on getting rid of bed bugs.

Related Questions

Orkin used the information above to also answer the following questions submitted by Orkin.com users:

Question: What are rat mites? Do they bite? I have 10 bites on my body after sleeping on the couch.

Answer: You may have bed bugs. In some regions of the country the frequency of bed bugs has been increasing. While they are a nuisance and deliver some painful bites, bed bugs can be controlled with some careful cleaning and a little insecticide. Check to see that there are no new or recently abandoned bird nests close to the room (check the attic). There are ”cousins” to bed bugs that live in these nests (or are associated with bats) and can move from there to feeding on people.

Question: I have no signs of bed bugs but have heard of rat mites. What are rat mites?

Answer: Rat mites will leave the host or the nesting site once the host dies or abandons the nest. If the nest is in close proximity to humans, the possibility of being bitten is greater.

Ask Orkin

Get More Answers from Orkin

Difference between a cellar spider and a brown recluse spider?

Q

What's the difference between a cellar spider and a brown recluse spider?

Causes of a bed bug infestation. Hotel? Used Furniture?

Q

To my knowledge, bed bugs don't just disappear, which is what makes me think that they may be bat bugs or bird bugs. Help!

My carpet has been chewed by rats

Q

What could have done this? Would it be in the house?

Carpet beetle in dorm room

Q

I'm freaking out that they may be bed bugs or something. Can you please tell me what this is?

I have a carpenter bee infestation

Q

Does Orkin take care of carpenter bee problems? What do I have to do to get rid of them?

Can you spray for rats?

Q

I work in a granite shop, and we have a lot of rats. They are big and ugly. I wonder if there exists any spray or something similar which can kill rats.

Can bed bugs come through the walls?

Q

I live in an apartment, and there is a unit in the same building that has bed bugs. They have sprayed that apartment, but will that kill them? Can bed bugs come through the walls?

Can ticks live in the house?

Q

Can ticks live in the house?

Can termites eat through concrete?

Q

How large of a crack in concrete is needed for termites to access?

Can roaches be eliminated from a dwelling completely?

Q

I have a few months left in my lease, but I need this issue addressed before moving. Can roaches be eliminated from a dwelling completely?

Connect with Us

Our customer care team is available for you 24 hours a day.

877-819-5061

Find a Branch

Our local technicians are the pest experts in your area.

Get a Personalized Quote

We will help you find the right treatment plan for your home.

Home is where the bugs aren't™

SERVICES

Pest ControlTermite ControlPrevent and Protect

PEST LIBRARY

Browse All Pests

© 2021 Orkin LLC

Terms of UsePrivacyAccessibility StatementCareers