Despite their differences, bed bugs and fleas are often confused. If you have bed bugs, the most important thing to remember is that flea control cannot—and should not—be used to rid your home of bed bugs. Let’s explore the differences between these two pests.
Appearance and Habits
Although fleas and bed bugs seem similar, they are very different pests. Bed bugs have flat, reddish brown bodies and prefer to feed on humans, whereas fleas have small, long bodies and prefer to feed on furry hosts, such as cats and dogs. You won’t find fleas living on people—though they may bite them—or bed bugs living on pets.
Reading the Signs
The first sign of bed bugs is often red, itchy bites. But, this sign alone usually is not enough to identify bed bugs. If you think you have bed bugs, check your sheets for black, brown or rust-colored spots. Look along the seams of your mattress for these discolorations, and also for shed bed bug skins. Fleas can often be identified by parting the hair of pet. Look for the fleas themselves, or small black flecks.
Surprisingly, bed bugs aren’t known to transmit any diseases to humans. It’s possible for bites to cause rashes or become infected, but discomfort is generally the greatest side effect—aside from psychological damage, which can sometimes accompany bed bugs infestations, as well. Oppositely, fleas can transmit a number of viral and bacterial infections. Preventative ongoing flea treatments can protect your animals—and you—from the diseases they carry.
Fleas are easier to treat of these two pests. For pets, there are often flea medications that can be used to provide fast relief. Bed bugs, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to exterminate completely. If you have bed bugs, don’t attempt to treat them with foggers or flea bombs, as these treatments will not work and may even spread the infestation. Instead, contact a professional as quickly as possible, who will be able to help you rid your home of bed bugs completely.