Bed bugs or Fleas? Know the difference

Bed bugs and fleas are similar in that they are both pests you don’t want in your home. But there are some big differences between the two. Knowing the difference can help you identify which pest is causing problems in your home so you can get the help you need. So have you got bed bugs or fleas? Here’s our guide.

Bed Bugs or Fleas: What are the Differences?

Before we get into the differences, let’s look at a couple of similarities:

The Way They Get Into Your Home

Bed bugs and fleas hitch a ride indoors on:



Mattresses and second-hand furniture


Once indoors, both pests breed quickly and a serious infestation can soon develop.

They Both Carry Diseases

Bed Bug faeces can cause skin problems like impetigo whereas fleas can transmit some nasty diseases to humans like the plague and typhus.

The Differences Between Bed Bugs and Fleas

How They Look

Bed bugs and fleas are a reddish brown colour. But bed bugs have flat, oval-shaped bodies while fleas have long narrow bodies. Bed bugs will also appear darker after they’ve fed on blood. Bed bugs are only 5mm in length and fleas are even smaller, at 2-3mm. Fleas also have longer legs so they can jump better.

The Hosts They Prefer

While fleas and bed bugs feed on blood, bed bugs prefer humans and won’t bite animals if there are humans around. Fleas prefer to feed on cats or dogs but do bite humans when there is no animal host around.

How They Move

Another good way to tell if the pests in your home are bed bugs or fleas, is looking at how they move. Bed bugs crawl and can’t fly or jump. Fleas can jump quite long distances.

Where They Live

Bed bugs love to live in and around beds, in the crevices of bed frames, under mattresses, behind wallpaper, inside of furniture, and inside clothing or bags (especially if they’re second-hand). Though fleas can hide out in undisturbed places, their preferred habitat is animal fur.

Their Bites

Bed bug bites tend to be found on the back, legs, hands, and feet. The bites aren’t painful, but they can be itchy and can cause a rash. Flea bites on the other hand are painful, itchy, and have a red spot in the centre. If you’ve ever been bitten by a mosquito, that’s kind of what a flea bite feels like.

How Can I Spot Bed Bugs?

They are tiny, so they can be hard to see. However you may notice dark spots on your bedding (faeces), and you may see eggs and shed skins. Speaking of eggs, bed bugs lay up to 500 eggs every few months, so if you suspect that you have them in your home, you need to act fast.

How Can I Spot Fleas?

They can be hard to spot. Start by inspecting your pet’s fur. Use a comb and if you find fleas or evidence of them, visit the vets for a flea treatment. But don’t just treat your pet and think you’re done, you need to treat your home too. Vacuum everywhere and empty it outside in the bin. Clean bedding on a hot wash to kill any eggs. Just like bed bugs, fleas breed quickly, so you need to act fast if you have a flea problem in your home.

Treating a Flea or Bed Bug Infestation

Whether you have a flea or bed bug problem in your home, getting rid of either pest can be a challenge. Vacuuming, treating your pet, and using sprays and other DIY treatments might get rid of some of the pests you can see. However, there might be eggs just waiting to hatch and keep the cycle of infestation going.

If you want to protect your home, family, and pets, your best bet is to call in professional pest control. Professional pest technicians have the expertise, equipment, and products that enable them to identify and treat an infestation fast and effectively, no matter if it’s bed bugs or fleas that are terrorising you!

Got a problem with bed bugs or fleas?

Call Contego.

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