Can you imagine that weird moment when you discover you have been bitten by an insect that is unknown to you, and it is very clear that the insect is not a mosquito? I can only imagine how awful it feels to not know the particular creature that has left marks on your body. This is especially devastating because knowing what has bitten you, is halfway to getting a remedy for the bite. It may be extremely difficult for you to take urgent measures to protect yourself from infections and allergic reactions that may result from the bite when you don’t even know what has bitten you.
Bed bugs have many look-alikes and so may be easily confused with these other insects and so is their bite. If you know little about insect then you may easily confuse the bite of a bed bug for that of a flea and vice versa. If you are looking for information with regards to the bite of a bedbug, flea, or dust mite then you are in the right place. This post will furnish you with the necessary information to differentiate the bite of each one of these insects from another. Read on for more information.
What is a Bed Bug?
Bed bugs are small species of insects in the genus Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. They feed exclusively from the blood of their host which include but are not limited to pet, humans, and birds. Bed bugs can survive for a very long time without feeding.
Bed bugs are small and an adult may measure about 5 mm long and 3 mm wide. This invariably means that they can be spotted with the naked eyes, but you may have to look really closely. Bed bugs have a flat and oval-shaped body and may be easily confused with hair lice. However, unlike lice, bedbugs do not have wings.
Although bed bugs feed on vertebrates, they spend only a small fraction of their life on their host. The insect comes out to feed and then returns back to its dwelling which is usually not far from its host. Bed bugs may be found in the crevices of your bed, corners of your wardrobe, in your mattresses and pillows, cracks in the wall and the likes. They can only be found in a house or an area that is actively infested by bed bugs.
Bed Bug Bite
Bed bugs have sharp saw-like mouthparts that are designed for easy tearing of the skin. This allows them to easily cut through your skin to feed on your blood. They usually feed on the neck, shoulder, and arms. Bed bug bite is usually arranged in a single row of three. While the bites are not visible on the skin of some individuals, it may be prominent on others. Bed bug bites look like mosquito bites just that the former is a little bit bigger.
It may be accompanied by redness, swelling, itching and allergic reactions caused by sensitivity to the proteins contained in bed bug saliva. The symptoms of bed bug bite may take hours or even days to manifest. Bed bugs are not known vectors but recent studies now suggest that they can transmit diseases from one host to another.
Treatments are geared towards the symptoms of the bite. For instance, you may use over the counter creams or pill to relieve the itching, swelling and other allergic reactions. However, you should contact your doctor if symptoms do not subside after a couple of days.
What is a Dust Mite?
Dust mites are a large population of mites usually found in dusty areas. They belong to the mite family Pyroglyphidae. Unlike bed bugs that are only found in infested areas, dust mites are found in many homes. They don’t feed directly on humans and animals for blood, rather just on their skin flakes and sometimes on molds.
Dust mites are microscopic and may not be easily spotted with the naked eyes. They have whitish to translucent bodies and usually measure about 0.3 mm and you may require up to 10x magnification to identify the species.
Dust mites may be found in areas in the home where they can easily feed on the skin flakes you shed on a regular basis such as bed sheets, carpets, curtains, and the likes.
Dust Mite Bite
As strange as it may sound, dust mites do not bite and so they don’t leave markings on your skin. However, their activities, the skin they shed and their feces may cause unpleasant symptoms. The symptoms of dust mite infestation are usually severe in individuals with weak immune systems due to old age, illness, tender age, and the likes. Unlike the bite from a bed bug, the infestation of dust mites may be difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms of Dust Mite Infestation
Dust mite infestation may trigger an asthma attack in people suffering from the condition. It may also cause allergic reactions. The symptoms of dust mite infestation may include but are not limited to red and itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, swelling in the tongue and lips, broken skin, rash, stomach ache, confusion, vomiting, and nausea.
Just like a bed bug bite, the treatment for reactions associated with dust mite infestation can be managed with medications targeted at alleviating the symptoms of a sufferer. Homemade and over the counter medications may be ideal. However, if symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor.
What is a Flea?
Fleas are species of insect that belong to the class Insecta and order Siphonaptera. They are parasites, and they feed exclusively on the blood of their host which include humans, pets, rabbits, mice, squirrels, rats, ferrets, and birds, just to name a few.
Fleas are flightless insects with bodies that are flattened sideways. They are relatively small and can be spotted with the naked eyes. An adult flea measures about 3 mm long. They have hind legs that are adapted for jumping, which allows them to jump a distance that is up to 50 times their size. The mouthparts of fleas are also designed for tearing into the skin of their host for easy feeding.
If you suspect that you have been bitten by a flea, then the best place to confirm your guess is on your pets. There are species of fleas known as host fleas and nest fleas. While the former lives on the host, the latter finds a comfortable nesting place close to the host for easy feeding. It is important to note that the population of host fleas may grow bigger thereby allowing you to find them all around the home.
Flea bite may appear just like a bed bug bite accompanied by a bump, redness, and itchiness. However, unlike bed bugs, fleas usually bite on the ankles and other lower parts of the legs. Fleas are vectors of different bacterial, viral and rickettsial diseases including murine typhus, bubonic plague, Rickettsia typhi, Bartonella henselae, Rickettsia felis, myxomatosis virus, Trypanosome protozoans, and Hymenolepiasis tapeworms.
The treatment for flea bite is geared towards the symptoms that accompany it such as swelling, itching, headache, and fever, just to name a few. Where there is no infection, symptoms may be treated at home with over the counter medications. You should contact a medical practitioner when the symptoms persist for a couple of days.
Other Insects Mistaken for Bed Bug
There are many other insects that may be easily confused with bed bug such as cockroach nymph, book louse, black carpet beetle, and spider beetle, just to name a few. Here are a few other insects mistaken for bed bugs:
1. Swallow Bugs
Swallow Bugs are another species of bug that looks very much like bed bugs. They belong to the class Insecta and family Cimicidae. With the aid of a microscope, you will be able to see that swallow bugs have bodies that are covered in fine hair that are longer than the width of their eye but without magnification, you can easily mistake them for bed bugs. Also, swallow bugs, just like bed bugs, are small, with a flat and oval-shaped exoskeleton that is covered in hair which is longer than that of bed bugs.
Furthermore, just like the bed bugs, swallow bugs feed exclusively on blood but this type of bugs prefer to feed on the blood of a swallow. However, it is important to state that the creatures may opt for the blood of humans in the absence of their preferred host. Also, just like bed bugs, swallow bugs are flightless, but they have non-functional wing pad.
They are mostly found in the nests and holes of swallows as they love staying close to their hosts for easy feeding. When they move into homes, you will find them in cracks on the wall and crevices. The bites of swallow bugs appear just like that of bed bugs and it is sometimes accompanied by itching, swelling, fever, redness, and other allergic reactions. This is the reason why they are often mistaken for bed bugs.
Even though various viruses and other pathogens are usually transmitted to swallow bugs from a host, the diseases are rarely passed to other hosts. Interestingly, the insects are not killed by the viruses transmitted to them. The diseases that may be transmitted from the pest are Trypanosoma cruzi, hepatitis B, and HIV. The disease may persist in the swallow bug for about two weeks or more.
2. Bat Bug
Bat bugs are insects in the class Insecta and order Hemiptera. Their name is sometimes used to refer to bed bugs. Bat bugs and bed bugs look very much alike that one is often mistaken for the other. Also, you may sometimes require the help of a microscope to tell the difference between the two bugs. The major difference between the two is the fringe hairs found on their pronotum. While the hair is as long as the width of the eye in bat bugs, it is very much shorter in bedbugs.
Furthermore, just like bed bugs, bat bugs feed exclusively on blood with their house usually being birds and bats. However, it is important to state that the bat bug will feed on humans too if they get the chance. However, their bite is considered to only constitute a nuisance since the creatures are not vectors. But even with these, individuals who are allergic to bat bug bite may suffer reactions that may range from skin irritations to swelling and even fever.
You can mostly find bat bugs in the nest of their hosts like bird and bat. In homes, they can be found in the attics, cracks in the wall, and chimneys, just name a few. Just like bed bugs, bat bugs like to stay close to their host thereby allowing you to find them in your mattress and the crevices of your bed.
Ticks too are mistaken for bed bugs. This is mostly because of the physical appearance of the former. They belong to the class Arachnida and order Ixodida. Just like bed bugs, they are small but they vary in color which may range from light brown to reddish brown. The insects can be spotted even without the aid of a microscope but without it, it may be easily confused with a bed bug.
Just like bed bugs, ticks feed exclusively on blood. They may feed on the blood of bird, amphibians, mammals, and reptiles. Even though the pests mostly feed on animals, it is important to state that they may also feed on humans if they get the chance to do so. Before feeding, you will find that ticks look pale, and flat like bed bugs with a similar body shape, but they may appear swollen with blood after feeding on a host.
Furthermore, just like bed bugs, ticks have a hard exoskeleton on their dorsal surface. They also have mouthparts suited for tearing into the skin for easy feeding on their hosts. However, you will find that while ticks have eight legs, bed bugs have six legs. Also, unlike bed bugs, ticks are vectors and they may transmit diseases from one host to another.