Do I have Bed Bugs or Mosquito Bites?

In addition to skin reactions to bites, the primary ways to differentiate bed bug bites and mosquito bites include the differences in bite location on the body, the pattern of bites on the body and the estimated time when a bite occurred.

General Symptoms of Bites

Mosquito Biting Skin

Mosquito Bites: Usually appears as puffy white and reddish bumps that begin a few minutes after the bite and become a reddish-brown bump a day or so after the bite. In some instances a host may have small blisters and dark spots that look like bruises in extreme cases.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed Bug Bites: Symptoms are variable and may result in no visible symptoms at first. However, symptoms of reddish bumps on skin, inflammation and red blotches that can become areas of raised, itchy bumps that eventually cause a burning sensation.

Other Important Information

Sensitivity to Bites:

  • Mosquito Bites: Generally, sensitivity to mosquito bites tends to decrease as the number of times someone is bitten increases. This may partially explain why children are usually more sensitive to mosquito bites than adults.

  • Bed Bug Bites: Generally, the opposite relationship to number of bites and sensitivity occurs with bed bug bites. Often someone who is bitten by a bed bug doesn’t even realize the bug has fed, but as the number times they are bitten increases, the sensitivity to those bites also increases.

  • Mosquito Bite Symptoms: Moderately painful, very irritating, itchy and leave round, red or pink mark on the skin. Mosquito bites may occur anytime during the day, at dusk or at night.

  • Bed Bug Bite Symptoms: Usually are generally unnoticed and can be almost painless at the time of the bite. In fact, much of the time a person does not even realize they were bitten unless they notice the bite welts.

  • Time to Heal: Mosquito bites usually clear up and “heal” much quicker than bed bug bites, which may persist for a few days or even longer.

Bite Sites:

  • Mosquito bites are generally distributed in a random manner over parts of the body that are not protected by clothing (legs, face, back neck, etc.).

  • Bed bug bites are more clustered and often occur in a distinct bite pattern that can be described as being multiple and arranged in a linear or circular fashion. Common locations include the neck, face, back, chest, arms, legs and around the crotch.

Signs & Characteristics

  • In many instances a bed bug is unable to digest all of the blood meal it takes from a host, so it may actually excrete a portion of that blood meal onto the sheets the host is sleeping on. Therefore, if you see small, round bloodstains on your sheets, chances are good that a bed bug feed on you during the night.

  • Hosts for both mosquitoes and bed bugs vary in attractiveness to the insects, which points out that both of these insects may bite one person and almost completely ignore someone else who is nearby. This behavior is very important to recognize since bed bugs are known to bite one person who is asleep and not bite another person who is asleep nearby.

Lifecycle Difference

  • Mosquitoes develop by complete metamorphosis, which means they go through four stages in their developmental cycle that is entirely different – egg, larvae, pupae and adults. Only the female mosquito adult bites and feeds on blood.

  • Bed bugs develop by incomplete metamorphosis, which means they go through only three life stages – egg, nymphs and adults – and both the male and female nymphs and adults feed on blood.

Disease Transmission Potential

  • Mosquitoes are known transmitters of many diseases that affect people or animals.

  • Bed bugs are not proven transmitters of any known diseases to people or animals.

  • If someone continues to scratch either mosquito or bed bug bites and does not keep the bite clean and medicated, there is a risk of a secondary infection.

Summary

Should either mosquitoes or bed bugs become a pest issue, the best course of action is to contact your pest management professional. It is important to request an inspection, plus an integrated management plan that includes science-based information, recommendations, products and methods to be used.

Resources

Protect Your Home From Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes

Asian Tiger Mosquito Identification & Prevention | Orkin

Do I have Bed Bugs or Mosquito Bites?

How to Identify Anopheles Mosquito | Mosquito Facts | Orkin

What Kinds of Light are Mosquitoes Attracted to? | Orkin

When are Mosquitoes the Most Active in the US? | Orkin

How do Mosquitoes Carry West Nile Virus? | Orkin

Do Dogs Get Bitten by Mosquitoes? | Get Rid of Mosquitoes | Orkin

Mosquitoes Can Transmit Dengue | Disease Facts | Orkin

What is Yellow Fever? | Do Mosquitoes Spread Yellow Fever? | Orkin

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