Bites in Bed: Fleas or Bed Bugs?

If you wake up to find that you have been bitten, how do you know whether you have fallen prey to a flea or a bed bug?  Even people who don’t have pets may find themselves with flea bites – you can move into a house which has dormant fleas, so don’t rule out fleas just because you have no animals.  You need to find out whether what bites you in bed are fleas or bed bugs.

Fleas and bed bugs can make bedtime a nightmare

This post is about:

  • How to tell the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites.
  • How to get rid of fleas
  • How to get rid of bed bugs.

Are Your Bites From Fleas or Bed Bugs?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites.  However, there are a few clues as to what is chewing on you.

Flea bites:

  • tend to be a small bump surrounded by a ring.
  • they itch.
  • they tend to be below the knee, although if there are fleas in the bed they will bite all over, in a random fashion.
  • occur continually.

Bed bug bites:

  • tend to be more like a raised red welt, similar to a mosquito bite, but often longer.
  • often turn into blisters
  • they itch
  • appear in a linear pattern, often in a group of three.
  • bites occur periodically since the bed bugs feed only every few weeks.

Bed bug bites

Get Rid of Fleas in Your Bed

If your bites are due to fleas, move quickly to eradicate them.  These posts will help you treat your pet and your home:

In addition, you should treat your bed.  You might not want to use a flea spray on your bed.  If you don’t, here’s a natural flea treatment to try:
  • Remove all bedding and launder on a high temperature and finish in the dryer on a high heat.
  • Sprinkle borax on the mattress.  Leave it for a few hours then vacuum it off.  Repeat on the other side of the mattress.
  • Continue the borax treatment weekly for a month.

Get rid of bed bugs

As with fleas, it is easier to prevent bed bugs than to deal with an infestation.  Assuming that you do need to get rid of a bed bug infestation (which may spread to sofas and carpets) here’s what to do:
  • Remove and launder your bedding on the highest temperature setting that it will stand:  above 90 degrees C is best.  Blast it on high heat in the dryer too.
  • Bed bugs can’t withstand heat, so steam clean your carpets and upholstery.
  • If it is a hot summer day, put the mattress outside; this should kill them.
  • You can buy sprays that kill bed bugs.
  • After you have treated the mattress, invest in bed bug proof mattress and pillow covers.
  • If all fails, get a new mattress.

An adult bed bug, Cimex lectularius

To prevent bed bugs

  • Launder bed linen weekly.
  • Vacuum under and around your bed at least weekly.
  • Vacuum your mattress weekly.
  • Shampoo your bedroom carpet every six months at least.
  • Keep clutter to a minimum in your bedroom.
Summary: 
  • Fleas and bed bug bites are similar, but not identical
  • Regular and thorough cleaning will help control and eliminate both pests
  • Don’t ignore the problem, it will only escalate.