How to tell if you have bed bugs or fleas

Updated February 21, 2017

Getting rid of bedbugs and fleas can be a challenge, but first you need to know which type of insect you're dealing with. According to the World Health Organization, bedbugs tend to reside only in the bed, while fleas like to infest other areas of the home, including pets. Use these tips to figure out whether you have bedbugs or fleas.

Inspect your body for bites. Bed bugs bite in the torso region. If you see a cluster of bites around the torso, then you have bed bugs. Fleas bite around the feet, ankle and leg region.

Inspect each bite carefully. The difference between a bedbug bite and a flea bite is that the centre of a bedbug bite is red.

Remove the bedding from the mattress. Inspect the seam of the mattress and bedding closely. Look for red or brown oval-shaped insects that resemble seeds. These are bedbugs. Also look for tiny red blood stains on your bed sheets. Look inside mattress folds, creases, zippers and tags and inside the crevices of drawers and nightstands, the folds of drapes and curtains and furniture, such as sofa and chairs, for bedbugs. Bedbugs tend to live only in the bedroom while fleas can live in any part of the house. Fleas tend to leave tiny black specks of excrement, so if you find black specks on your mattress and throughout the home, you have fleas, not bedbugs.

Look for black specks on pets. Pets often serve as carriers for fleas. Use a flea comb on your pet. Start at the base of the tail and comb through the pet's fur. If you find insects or black specks, your home is infested with fleas, not bedbugs.

Inspect other areas of the home, such as couches, pillows and blankets. Bedbugs reside primarily in the bedroom and any sign of insects in any other part of the home is an indication of flea infestation.

Fill a glass bowl with water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap. Place the bowl near a night light on the carpet overnight. The bowl of soapy water attracts fleas. This method is effective for detecting fleas in the home.

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About the Author

Krista Martin has been writing professionally since 2005. She has written for magazines, newspapers and websites including Live Listings, "Homes & Living" magazine and the "Metro Newspaper." Martin holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a Master of Journalism from the University of Westminster.