5 ways to tell the difference between a bed bug or mosquito bite

There are some key differences between mosquito bites and bed bug bites. dimid_86/Shutterstock

Mosquito bites and bed bug bites have a lot of traits in common.

What makes it even more challenging to identify the two, is that not everyone has the same reaction (or reacts at all) to bed bug bites. (In fact, some people don’t even know what a bed bug bite looks like.) The bites might look like red welts on one person, rashes on another, and raised blisters on the next person. Due to the wide range of reactions, it’s not visually easy to determine if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug.

But nevertheless, you can use some context clues to decipher which insect is your culprit.

Here are five signs to look out for that will help you determine if you’re dealing with bed bugs or mosquitoes.

Bed bug bites occur in clusters.

Are the bites all next to each other? japharl/Flickr

One of the best ways to tell the difference between mosquito and bed bug bites is to look at where the bites are occurring on your body.

Mosquito bites usually occur one their own in random and isolated spots. Bed bug bites, on the other hand, pop up in clusters. The pattern of bed bug bites often appear as a line or zigzag, aligning with the edge of a sheet or mattress, according to the pest control company Terminix.

Mosquito bites don’t last as long.

They shouldn’t last too long. Kamelia Angelova /Business Insider

As much as you might despise mosquito bites, the great thing to remember is that they will disappear soon enough if you leave them alone. The unsightly red bumps and itching sensation that come along with the bites can only last so long.

Compared to bed bug bites, mosquito bites typically subside and heal much faster, according to the pest control company Orkin.

Mosquito bites become itchy quicker.

Bed bugs can take up to 14 days to itch. namtipStudio/Shutterstock

If you’ve gotten even just one mosquito bite in your life, you know that they start itching almost immediately. Often, you’ll even feel an itching sensation before the red bump pops up.

When it comes to bed bug bite, however, you’ll typically see the bump or rash from the bite before it begins to itch, according to the blog pestseek.com.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that some people develop itchy welts within a few days of their first bites, but it can take up to 14 days for others to feel the areas itch.

Read more:
The best way to stop a mosquito bite from itching is surprisingly simple

Bed bugs may leave a surprise on your bed sheets.

Do you notice any red stains on your sheets? Shutterstock/topnatthapon

One tell-tale sign that you’ve been bitten by a bed bug is when you find dark red or black stains on your bed sheets. If you discover stains and bite marks on your body, it’s a good indication you’re dealing with bed bugs and not mosquitoes, according to the blog pesthacks.com.

Disclaimer: Put down your lunch if you’re eating while reading this.

The dark black or red stains found on the sheets are actually digested blood. After bedbugs feast on their host (i.e. you), they may excrete some of the digested blood onto the sheets. Gross, yes. But the upside is that the stains offer you an easy way for you to tell what kind of bug you’re dealing with.

Bed bug bites may be accompanied by a rash.

You might see a surrounding rash. Wikimedia commons

Visually, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between bed bug bites from mosquito bites – especially since everyone reacts to bed bug bites differently. Nonetheless, one difference you might find is that some bed bug bites are accompanied by rashes.

Depending on how allergic you are to the anticoagulant bed bugs inject into your skin, you may see a rash around the bite sites.

Experts recommend that if your skin does develop a rash, you should avoid scratching the affected area and contact a medical professional before it becomes infected.

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