Bed Bug Bites VS Mosquito Bites: What’s The Difference?

June 1, 2023

Bug bites can be hard to identify because unfortunately, they all tend to look nearly identical. Bed bugs and mosquitoes are two of the most prolific pests in the United States, so we thought it important to differentiate between the bites of these two bugs. 


What Does A Bed Bug Bite Look Like?


Bed bug bites vary in appearance, but most often they look like small, raised, red bumps. They sometimes have a dark red center, and others may develop a blister or become swollen. The bites typically appear in groups of three to five. They are often arranged in either a zig-zag or a line, but they occasionally show up in a random pattern. Bed bug bites are itchy and sometimes painful. They usually appear on the upper body around the neck and arms, however bed bugs will bite any exposed skin. The bites may show up within a day, or they may take as many as 14 days to appear.


What Does A Mosquito Bite Look Like?


Mosquito bites look like small, reddish bumps with a tiny dot in the center. They are very itchy. As with bed bug bites, mosquito bite reactions vary from person to person. Some people may develop a blister at the site of the bite, and others may experience swelling. Mosquitoes need to feed for at least 6 seconds in order to cause a reaction. Mosquito bite reactions usually appear within 20 minutes of the bite and the itchiness is at its worst 24 to 48 hours after the bite. 


How To Tell The Difference Between Bed Bug and Mosquito Bites



The main difference between bed bug and mosquito bites is the patterns in which they appear. While bed bug bites sometimes appear in random patterns, they are usually arranged in a straight line or zig-zag consisting of 3 to 5 bites. Conversely, mosquito bites always appear singularly or in random patterns. 


Bites from both pests look like small red bumps, but mosquito bites usually have a tiny dot in the middle. Both bites may develop more severe reactions like swelling or a blister. Mosquito bites may appear in any area of exposed skin, while bed bug bites most often appear around the torso, neck, and arms. 



Bed bugs are not known to spread any diseases. However, their bites can lead to sleep loss, itching, and secondary infections from itching. In severe cases, bed bug bites can cause asthma symptoms and allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.  


Mosquitoes are far more dangerous than bed bugs. In fact, they are the deadliest animal in the world due to the number of viruses and parasites they spread via their bites. A few of the most common mosquito-borne illnesses in the United States are West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue, and zika. Mosquitoes are also known to spread encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever, and more. They can even give heartworm to pets and wildlife. A single mosquito can spread any diseases it carries to more than 100 people or animals during its lifetime. Mosquito bites can also cause allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, though such reactions are quite rare. 


Bite Reaction Time

Bed bug bites may take hours or days to appear, and some people will have no reaction at all. The bites typically heal within a week. Mosquito bites tend to appear right away and heal within a few days. 


Feeding Behavior

Bed bugs typically bite during the night, however they will feed during the day if that is the only time food is available to them. Mosquitoes are similar in this regard; they usually bite between sunset and sunrise, but they are sometimes encountered during the daytime. Mosquitoes will really only emerge during the day if the weather is cloudy since direct sunlight is too harsh for their bodies and will quickly dehydrate them. 


Bed bugs prefer to feed every 3 to 7 days, but they can survive for several months to a year without a meal. Mosquitoes prefer to feed at least every 2 weeks, and they can only survive for 2 to 3 weeks without a blood meal.


Bed bugs require at least one blood meal during each stage of their life in order to molt into the next stage. Adult bed bugs require blood meals in order to reproduce. 


Only adult female mosquitoes consume blood, and they do so purely so they can lay eggs. Males do not drink blood and survive on plant nectar alone. Mosquito larvae do not bite either, and they are generally harmless if they are accidentally consumed by pets or wildlife. 


How To Treat Bed Bug and Mosquito Bites


As soon as a bite from either pest occurs, wash the area with soap and water. If the bite is itchy, apply an over-the-counter anti-itch remedy like corticosteroid cream or calamine lotion. Avoid scratching the bites, as excessive scratching can lead to open wounds and secondary infection. 

When To See The Doctor About Bed Bug or Mosquito Bites


If bed bug or mosquito bites cause any irregular reactions, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. Non-typical or severe reactions may include excessive redness or swelling, blisters or sores, headache, body aches, fever, and signs of allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction include painful swelling; hives; fever; swollen lymph nodes; swelling or pain in the eyes, lips, mouth, or throat; a general feeling of sickness; and, in very serious cases, anaphylaxis. 


How To Prevent Bed Bug Bites


Bed bugs are most often picked up from vacation lodgings or second-hand items. Before traveling, check out our Hotel Bed Bug Search Guide to make sure you don’t bring any of the pests home with you. For everyday prevention, practice the following bed bug avoidance tactics:


  • Protect your beds and furniture. Use a bed bug mattress cover on all mattresses and regularly vacuum upholstered furniture.
  • Keep a clean house. Like most pests, bed bugs will invade any property regardless of cleanliness. However, clutter and dirt provide more hiding spots for pests than a spotless area, so it is important to vacuum regularly and minimize clutter in all areas of your property. 
  • Inspect second-hand items before bringing them inside. Vacuum all used furniture and wash all second-hand clothing items before introducing them to your property. 
  • Take precautions in multi-unit buildings. Apartments, condos, and office buildings are generally more susceptible to pest infestations than single-unit properties. To avoid pests in your unit, take precautions like installing door sweeps and sealing gaps around baseboards and electrical plates. 
  • Take precautions in laundromats. Bring your laundry to the laundromat in a plastic bag, and bring it home in a fresh bag. Fold your laundry at home and avoid using community items like laundry carts and folding tables. 


How To Prevent Mosquito Bites


Preventing mosquito bites begins with preventing mosquitoes themselves. Try the following methods to keep your property mosquito-free:


  • Remove standing water. Mosquitoes breed in stillwater, so it is important to remove sources of standing water like flower pots and tarps that have collected rainwater. Replace birdbath water every 5 days at minimum, and aerate ponds.
  • Seal entry points. Mosquitoes often enter buildings through torn window and door screens, so you must seal all holes or replace torn screens. 
  • Take personal precautions. When spending time outdoors, wear long pants and long sleeve shirts and use bug spray. These precautions are especially important during dawn, dusk, and nighttime hours. 


If you are experiencing bed bug or mosquito bites on your property, call Twin-Boro today. Our Integrated Pest Management approach will ensure that your land stays bite-free throughout the year.  

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