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Bed Bugs vs. Fleas

Posted by Bed Bug Store on

You itch! Your family itches! At first you might wonder if someone switched the laundry detergent on you, or maybe the formula in your favorite soap changed and they didn’t indicate it on the box. It’s a lot easier to imagine that than it is to imagine bugs crawling on you and biting you.

But then you start seeing bite marks on your skin. You check the arms and legs of others in the household and notice that they have marks that look just like yours. Now you can’t blame it on acne, and you can’t blame it on any sort of soap. There is something biting you and it’s in your house. But how can that be true? You haven’t spotted any bugs. Where could you have picked them up? Is this all your pet’s fault? Yeah, let’s blame the pet!

You’ve got a bug problem, but you can’t treat the problem until you know which bug it is. While an occasional spider might crawl into your bed at night, most of them won’t bite you unless it feels threatened (like if you move in your sleep). Spiders don’t tend to bite because they have no interest in you; they eat bugs, not human blood. What kind of sick bug would dine on human blood? Oh yeah...bed bugs and fleas.

But before you buy that bed bug spray or wrap a flea collar around your neck, you have to find out: is the culprit a flea or a bed bug? Do you need a bed bug killer or a flea killer, because no matter which one it is you want it gone as soon as possible.

Their Similarities

Fleas and bed bugs are both hematophages. That means that they both live exclusively on blood, like mosquitoes. They both have mouth parts that saw into skin and introduce anticoagulants so that they can suck out the blood more easily. Sound gross? It should, and we hope it convinces you to get a good flea of bed bug treatment.

Fleas and bed bugs look similar. They are both wingless and are a dark brown color, though bed bugs are lighter brown before they have fed. Both feed on humans and pets and can live just about anywhere in the world, but there are a few differences that you’ll definitely want to look for.

Identifying Fleas

Fleas are smaller than bed bugs, measuring in at a maximum of 3.3 mm long while bed bugs are between 4 and 5 mm long. Fleas are very thin, but bed bugs are 1.5 – 3 mm wide and flat before feedings. After feeding, bed bugs plump up but fleas remain thin after eating.

If you spot a flea and take a closer look, you’ll notice that a flea has long hind legs for jumping. They can jump up to 7 inches vertically and almost 13 inches horizontally. That’s 50 times their body length! This makes it possible for them to jump effortlessly from one host to another, and to escape very quickly once they bite. You will feel a flea bite you, but usually when you try to find them they have already moved on.

While fleas do bite humans if they have the opportunity, they are more likely to hide out in the fur of your pet. You will have much better luck spotting them on your pet using a flea comb.

Can Fleas Hurt My Family?

Unfortunately, yes. Fleas can transmit diseases and other harmful agents to pets, and between pets and humans. Fleas regurgitate some of the blood in their stomach during feeding, which mixes that blood with that of their next victim. Fleas can transmit typhus and bartonella (cat scratch disease). Fleas can also transmit tapeworm eggs to pets and even the occasional human!

Fleas can also transmit The Plague. Yes, that The Plague. This most often happens in states that have prairie dog colonies. Pets that visit areas containing prairie dogs can bring the disease into the home.

Identifying Bed Bugs

If you find a bed bug on or around your mattress, you will notice it looks different from a flea. Bed bugs are larger than fleas and have six legs proportionate to their bodies. They are crawlers and can crawl almost anywhere. Bed bugs like to dine at night and find you, their victim, by detecting CO2 from your breathing and your body heat. Bed bugs have a long tube extending from their head, similar to a mosquito. This is what they use to drain their food source – YOU and your blood. You won’t usually feel a bed bug feeding because bed bugs inject a numbing agent to keep you unaware of their activities until the morning when welts begin to itch. (Gives a whole new meaning to, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite,” doesn’t it?)

Another difference is where they hide. Bed bugs are lazy and tend to stick to dark places, patiently waiting in the shadows to come out at night and feed while the humans sleep. Bed bugs can be found in cracks and crevices, like the cracks of a bed frame or mattress, in baseboards, behind outlets, and more. Meanwhile, fleas can be found in bedding, carpets, pet enclosures, or anywhere their prey spends a lot of time. Fleas mostly feed on animals, but they can feed on humans as well, and because they move around so quickly, it’s easier for them to live out in the open or on your pet (or you)!

Can Bed Bugs Hurt My Family?

Unlike fleas, bed bugs do not transmit human pathogens. While harmful diseases can carry them in their guts, they do not actively transmit them to humans.

That certainly doesn’t mean that they’re harmless, though. First of all, most people are allergic to bed bug saliva, meaning that they itch like mad. Scratching the bites can lead to open scabs and infections.

There’s also the psychological effect of living with bed bugs. It can also make a person feel very uncomfortable in public when the bite marks are showing. Similarly, a bedroom should be a place where someone can go to relax, an oasis from the world. It should be a place to feel safe. Bed bugs can completely disrupt this feeling of calm; knowing that you will go to bed and have bugs crawling over you can make it hard to sleep. That’s why we offer a variety of natural bed bug solutions to get those tiny vampires out of your life.

What Do I Do After Identification?

It is important that you identify if you have bed bugs or fleas because each require a different treatment. For bed bugs, we recommend 100% Natural Bed Bug Patrol. Bed Bug Patrol, used as directed, can assist in eliminating those nasty blood suckers.

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