How To Tell Bed Bug Bites From Mosquitoes

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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 .

Bed bugs may leave a surprise on your bed sheets.

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

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.

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.

How to Tell Bed Bug Bites from Mosquito Bites

During the spring and summer, getting a few bug bites is to be expected; however, sometimes it is hard to detect the insect that caused itching and marks on your skin. It is important that you find out which insect might have bitten you as soon as possible so you can visit a doctor, if necessary, or call a pest control professional to handle the insects. Among the most common types, that are easily mistaken, are bed bug bites and mosquito bites. Below we outline the differences between the two.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs rely on blood to survive and complete their life cycle. These small insects, no bigger than an apple seed, are reddish brown, oval, and flat. They usually live in mattresses, cracks of box springs, beds, and bed frames. These insects don’t fly, but they can spread rapidly and are nearly impossible to get rid of on your own. They are most active at night and they usually bite when a person is sleeping in bed.

Bed Bug Bites

The bite of a bed bug is red with a darker spot in the middle. The feeding pattern is not random since their bites are arranged in a cluster or a line. It is easy to spot that you have been bitten by a bed bug if you see three or more bites in a row. Bed bug bites can appear on your hands, face, arms, neck, back, and torso; usually the places on the body directly in contact with bed linens. Symptoms won’t appear for some time after the bite occurs, and will get worse over time. Usually, the first symptom of a bed bug bite is swelling, which can lead to the bite becoming irritated and itchy. When a bed bug bites, it pierces the skin with its elongated mouth parts and injects an anticoagulant to prevent the bite from itching instantly. This is how bed bugs can bite one person multiple times during a single feeding process. Bed bugs are not associated with the transmission of any human disease, but their bites can leave an open wound on the skin, which can become infected when you scratch it.


These small flying insects also feed on the blood of humans and other mammals. Usually, the female mosquito is the one that bites, since she needs blood to nourish her eggs. They are most active at dawn or dusk and they bite mostly on exposed skin.

Mosquito Bites

The bites of these insects are random and isolated since they can’t bite through clothes like bed bugs can. Their bites are usually delivered when you are spending time outdoors, especially near areas of standing water. The mosquito bite looks like a soft pale bump that can become pink or red. The first signs occur soon after the bite happens, which is the main distinction between the mosquito bite and a bed bug bite. The bump and the area around it may be itchy. Scratching a mosquito bite too much can leave an open wound, which can become infected.

If you’re concerned about the presence of one or both of these blood sucking pests, don’t wait — call a pest control professional as soon as possible for inspection and extermination.

Proudly serving the greater Chicagoland area in Illinois and southeast Wisconsin, the professional exterminators at Aerex Pest Control understand the habits of different pests and use that knowledge when developing a pest control program that is best suited to your home and your particular problem. Our technicians are professional, state certified, licensed applicators. Call today for your free consultation 847-255-8888 orclick herefor a free quick quote.

Difference between Bed Bug Bites and Mosquito Bites

Sometimes you wake up and start scratching from an insect bite and you can’t figure out what insect the bite came from. It is important that you find out as soon as possible so that you can take the best course of action, such as visiting a doctor if necessary or calling pest control professionals to handle the insects. Among the most common types are mosquito bites and bed bug bites.


Bed bug bitesoften look similar to mosquito bites. Bed bug bites are lumps that appear on the skin due to bed bugs that tend to align themselves with where your body comes into contact with the mattress or the edge of a bed sheet. This means that the bites will mostly appear as a line or row on your skin.

Mosquito bite

Mosquito bitesare random and isolated lumps on the skin caused by the bite of a female anopheles mosquito, mostly on exposed skin.

Comparison Chart

Bed Bug bitesMosquito bites
Can crawl under clothes and bite the skin that is covered by clothesCan’t bite through clothes
Bites are often aligned as a line or rowBites are often random and isolated
Take time to show and feel itchyInstantly itchy and visible
Self-resolve after a relatively long period of timeSelf-resolve faster than bed bug bites
Cannot transmit diseasesCan transmit diseases such as malaria

Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites

What is the difference between bed bug bites and mosquito bites? Since they are similar, secondary evidence, such as location and reaction time, is required to distinguish a mosquito bite from a bed bug bite.

  • Mosquito bites tend to be random and isolated on the skin and mostly affect the exposed parts of the body such as the arms, legs and head. Since bed bugs can crawl under clothes, their bites can be found all over the body and often appear in clusters of three or more. Bed bug bites are sometimes aligned as if in a line or row due to the bugs biting the skin where it comes into contact with bedding.
  • When a mosquito bites, it takes a few minutes for its bite to show and feel itchy. A raised and oddly shaped welt with red boundaries forms on the skin. Within a day, the welt turns into a red bump. Mosquito bites disappear faster compared to bed bug bites. Conversely, bed bug bites may take several minutes or hours to show. At first, a flat and red welt is formed that doesn’t itch. With time, the welt turns into an itchy bump.

Is That A Mosquito Bite Or A Bed Bug Bite?

Is That A Mosquito Bite Or A Bed Bug Bite?

Mosquitoes are flying insects that range between ¼ of an inch and 3/8 of an inch long. The female mosquito is the biter, as she needs your blood to help nourish her eggs. She’ll use her specialized mouthparts to pierce your skin and inject a blood anti-coagulant that allows her to draw up your blood more easily. The reaction your body has to this anti-coagulant is what causes your body’s reaction to this bite. Their bites are usually delivered while you are spending time outdoors, especially near areas of vegetation or standing water. Amosquito bitetypically results in a red and itchy welt that can sometimes become swollen and the surrounding area can feel warm to the touch. Mosquitoes are known to carry and spread many different diseases, including the potentially life threatening West Nile virus and the relative newcomer, Zika virus, that can cause microcephaly in babies in any stage of pregnancy. Click here for more information on Zika cases reported in Kansas and throughout the U.S.

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on your blood while you sleep. They are small, about the size of an apple seed (around 3/16 of an inch) and they do not fly. Both male and female bed bugs will feed on your blood. They feed similarly to mosquitoes, in that they use their specialized mouthparts to pierce your skin, inject their anti-coagulant into your system and then draw up your blood. You can get these bites inside homes or businesses; anywhere that people regularly frequent. Bed bug bites look a lot like mosquito bites, but you’ll see they are usually in groups of three or more and you often notice them upon waking. The bites result in itchy red welts on some people and have no effect on others. Bed bugs are currently not known to transmit any diseases but they can cause stress and anxiety for anyone that has an infestation of them. Because they spread easily, it can be difficult to get rid of bed bugs.

If you think you have mosquito bites, here are some prevention tips to help limit the mosquito populations around your home and prevent their itchy bites.

  1. Eliminate areas where mosquitoes breed. These include areas of standing water, like children’s pools, anything on your property that can collect rainwater and clogged ditches and gutters.
  2. Keep grass and weeds cut short; mosquitoes will spend time in tall grasses if given the opportunity.
  3. Use DEET, Picardin or other effective insect repellent on clothing or skin when spending time outdoors.
  4. Keep your skin covered up while outdoors.
  5. Avoid spending time outside during peak mosquito activity times, which include dawn and dusk.

If you suspect your bites may be from bed bugs, here places you should look out for bed bugs, as well as signs of bed bug activity inside your home.

  1. Bed bugs can be found around beds, but in others places as well, including inside upholstered furniture, inside bedside tables, along the seams of curtains and carpets, behind electrical outlets on the walls or behind hanging picture frames.
  2. Signs of bed bugscan include dark brown/reddish blood spots on bed linens, mattresses, head boards, box springs or furniture.
  3. Cast bed bug skins clustered near areas where bed bugs hide can be signs of these insects.
  4. Bed bugs can be picked up in hotel rooms, on public transportation and even in movie theaters. If you’ve been to any public areas recently, you could have picked these insects up there and brought them home with you.

These tips should help you determine whether you simply have bites from mosquitoes or if you could possibly have bed bug bites. Contacting the pest control professionals at Schendel Pest Services for either problem is a good course of action. We offer mosquito control services that are designed to help limit the number of mosquitoes you have on your property, and our bed bug treatments are available in Topeka, Kansas City and throughout our large service area. These are not pests you want to try to get rid of on your own. You shouldn’t have to spend your summer itching; if you think you may have an infestation of either of these pests on your property or just want an inspection done by a professional to help determine what you’re having a problem with, contact the biting insect control pros at Schendel today!

This post was originally published July 23, 2013. It has been updated to reflect the most relevant information on bed bugs and mosquitoes.

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How to Tell Whether You Were Bitten by a Bedbug or Mosquito

Bedbug and mosquito bites can appear similar at first glance. That’s why it’s important to consider the small cues that can help you determine what bit you. Armed with that knowledge, you can focus your treatments on relieving itchy, irritated skin.

Bedbugs are nocturnal insects that bite people usually asleep and in bed. They can resemble other insect bites, such as mosquito bites, or skin irritations, such as eczema.

  • Appearance.Bites are usually red, puffy, and pimple-like. In the center of the irritated area is often a red dot where the bedbug bit you. If you’re especially sensitive to bedbug bites, your bites may be fluid-filled.
  • Itch factor.Bedbug bites are very itchy and irritating. The itching or pain is usually worse in the morning and gets better as the day progresses.
  • Location.Bedbug bites usually appear on areas of exposed skin that comes in contact with the bed. These include the arms, face, and neck. However, they can also burrow under clothing.
  • Number.Bedbug bites often follow in a straight line, in groups of three or more.

Bedbug bites can become infected. Signs that a bedbug lesion is infected include:

  • tenderness
  • redness
  • fever
  • nearby lymph node swelling

Mosquitoes are small, flying insects with six legs. Only the females of the species bite. Mosquitoes thrive near water. If you’ve been outdoors and near a pond, lake, marsh, or pool, this increases the likelihood your bite is from a mosquito.

  • Appearance.Mosquito bites are small, red, and raised bites. They can vary in size based on a person’s natural reaction to the mosquito’s saliva.
  • Itch factor.Mosquito bites are itchy, and people can have varying degrees of reactions to them. Some people may be especially sensitive, and can even have blistering reactions.
  • Location.Mosquito bites occur on exposed skin areas, such as the legs, arms, or hands. However, mosquito bites won’t bite through clothing like bedbugs do.
  • Number.A person may have just one or multiple mosquito bites. If they do have multiple, the pattern is usually random and not in a line.

Although rare, it’s possible that a person can experience an anaphylactic reaction to a mosquito bite. This is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that causes hives, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing.

If you or someone else may be experiencing anaphylaxis, seek emergency medical attention. Call 911 or go to an emergency room.

A mosquito has to be on the skin for at least six seconds to bite you. The bites may be seemingly instantly itchy and visible. They will usually get better after one or two days.

Bedbug bites don’t always cause skin reactions. If they do, the reactions can be delayed by hours or days. This makes bedbugs harder to treat because a person may not know they’ve been around them until several days later.

See below for some pictures of bedbug and mosquito bites.

Bedbugs and mosquitoes aren’t the only insects that can create similar bites. Here are some other common bug bites and how to tell the difference.

Kissing bugs

Kissing bugs are insects that can be infested with a parasite that causes a condition known as Chagas disease. These bugs commonly bite a person around their mouth or eyes. They’ll usually bite a person several times in the same area. The bites may be small, red, and round.

Kissing bug bites that cause Chagas disease can be serious as the disease can cause heart and intestinal problems.


Spider bites can take on different appearances and symptoms based on the spider that bit you. Usually, a spider’s fangs aren’t strong enough to break through human skin. The ones that do — such as a brown recluse or black widow spider — can cause severe symptoms.

Signs a person may have been bitten by a spider include:

  • red welt
  • swelling
  • pain and muscle cramping
  • nausea
  • problems breathing

Serious spider bites can lead to illness and infection. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you were bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider.

Fire ants

Fire ants are insects that can sting and cause painful, itchy bites. These bites usually occur on the legs or feet after stepping in a fire ant mound when ants come out and bite.

Symptoms of fire ant bites include:

  • burning sensation almost immediately after the bite
  • itching and raised welt-like areas on the skin
  • small, fluid-filled blisters that form about a day after the bites occur

Fire ant bites may cause symptoms up to a week. The bites can be extremely itchy.

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