What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Bed bugs have been around for years, since the 1940s. But recently, the number of bed bugs has been on the rise. As they have become more resistant to pesticides over time, they have started to grace our homes more and more. 

This comes at a cost. Bed bugs feed on human and animal blood. They are more active during the night, so they tend to bite us in our sleep, causing uncomfortable and itchy red marks on our skin.

It’s not surprising that, as soon as we suspect bed bugs in our home, we want to know how to get rid of them. Yet, in order to manage a bed bug infestation, we need to be able to identify them. In this article, we’ll cover what bed bugs are, what they look like, and how to identify bed bug bites and distinguish them from other insect bites.

The Ins and Outs of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small insects that live outdoors and in our homes. They tend to gravitate towards places that are warm and sheltered, such as public places (e.g., cinemas, theatres, etc.) and public transportation. You will also often find bed bugs in guest accommodation, such as hotels.

Unfortunately, bed bugs can travel easily – they can cling onto your clothes and personal items, which makes it all too easy for them to end up in your home. As a result, they are a widespread issue, causing us hassle from the US to the UK.

Bed bugs are sneaky nocturnal creatures, so they tend to reveal themselves at night when we’re asleep. This makes it easier for them to bite us, as we’re not awake to swat them away. Some people may not even notice they have a bed bug infestation, as not everyone’s body reacts to bed bug bites in the same way.

Female bed bugs particularly need our blood as they use this to produce eggs. Once they bite us, they use our blood to produce hundreds of eggs, often laying three generations per year. Yuck!

The idea of having bed bugs in your home is horrible. However, there is one ray of hope in all this itchiness: bed bugs don’t carry disease. So, while their bites can cause us serious discomfort, they won’t make us ill.

However, this beam of light does little to protect us from the distress bed bugs can cause when they enter our homes. So, to protect ourselves, we need to know what they look like.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Luckily, bed bugs are relatively easy to spot when you know what you’re looking for. They range from 5 to 7 mm in length and are a brownish colour. Think of an apple seed, and you’ll be pretty close to the size and colour of a bed bug. Bed bug eggs resemble small specks of dust; it’s also possible to identify these, but a little more difficult.

You can spot bed bugs by stripping your bed of bedding and looking at any seams. If you remove your mattress, it may also be possible to spot bed bugs on your bed frame. Look for any hard-to-reach areas, as these are where bed bugs love to live.

It’s important to know that most people don’t catch bed bugs through sightings. Instead, we often first become aware of bed bugs when we get bitten. Because of this, we need to be able to identify bed bug bites and distinguish them from other insect bites. 

How to Identify Bed Bug Bites

There are several key characteristics to bed bug bites. Let’s explore the main signs and then discuss how these differ from other common insect bites.

The main signs of bed bug bites are:

  • Red, swollen bumps: These bites often appear as little bumps that are red and swollen.
  • Lots of bites in one area: Bed bugs tend to bite the same patch of skin multiple times. Therefore, when you’ve been bitten by a bed bug, it’s likely you’ll see a group of several red, swollen bumps around one area.
  • Itchiness: Bed bug bites are almost always itchy. While some people say it feels itchy, other people report a burning sensation. The discomfort tends to get worse several days after the bite occurs.

It’s important to note that people’s bodies can react differently to bed bug bites. For example, for some people, bed bug bites will be raised, but for others, they’ll be flat. Furthermore, some people may get bitten and have no reaction to it whatsoever.

How Bed Bug Bites Differ from Other Bites

Insect bites can often look very similar, so it’s not a walk in the park trying to distinguish between them. The best way to do this is to consider the main differences between bed bug bites and those of other common insects, such as fleas, mosquitoes, and spiders:

  • Fleas: Flea bites are typically easily distinguishable as they often leave a red halo shape around the site of the bite. They’re often bigger than bed bug bites and are most common around the legs and ankles.
  • Mosquitoes: Unlike bed bug bites, mosquitoes only tend to bite once. Therefore, rather than a cluster of bites, mosquitoes only leave one red mark behind. The marks left by mosquito bites are usually larger than bed bug bites, and you may get bitten on different areas of your body rather than on the same spot.
  • Spiders: Spiders often bite once or twice, so they will leave a couple of marks rather than a group. Spider bites may spark more extreme skin reactions, particularly if the person who has been bitten is allergic to the spider’s venom. Just like mosquito and flea bites, spider bites are also generally bigger than bed bug bites.

If you suspect you have been bitten by bed bugs, the next step is to inspect your home. Check your bedding, mattress, bed frame, clothing, and any blankets and other cloth-like materials for apple-seed shapes. If you can’t spot them, but you suspect your home to be infested with bed bugs, it’s best to call in pest control to inspect your home and manage the infestation, if there is one.

Final Word on Bed Bugs

No one wants bed bugs in their home. Whether they’re hiding in your wardrobe or burrowing down in your bed, they can cause severe discomfort and stress. The best way to tackle bed bugs is first to identify them in your home; this often starts with noticing bed bug bites.

If you suspect bed bugs, inspect the key areas they like to reside in, then employ a method to get rid of them, such as calling in pest control.

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