Home Bed Bugs Mosquito Bites vs Bed Bug Bites-What’ are the differences

Mosquito Bites vs Bed Bug Bites-What’ are the differences

Insects bite for a reason. It could be in defense or to feed on your blood. When it comes to mosquitoes and bed bugs, they do it for a common reason. They bite for food and survival. In fact, you can simply scare off either of the two. Mosquitoes are in numbers of more than 3400 species. With this number, there are a few mosquitoes that have been well studied for their medical significance following their potential to transmit vector-borne viruses and protozoa. The females of most species are the most implicated in transmissions and have mouth parts that resemble tubes known as proboscis they use to consume blood from its host. The Aedes albopictus, Culex pipiens, Aedes aegypti and Anopheles quadrimaculatus are the most common types of mosquitoes that you will get to know more about in the subsequent sections of this material.
mosquito vs bed bug bites
Mosquitoes also use chemotactic stimuli to reach a viable host. This is a highly sensitive mechanism that captures odor through its odor receptors located on its antennae. Perspiration from human is the loci stimulus. Bed bugs are not as many as mosquitoes as there are 90 species available. Three of the 90 are the most common including Cimex lecturalis, Cimex adjuctus and Cimex hemipterus.
photo of a bed bug
Bed bug
These infest human dwellings and may cause unending discomfort. They are able to inject some anti-coagulant into the vasculature to facilitate its feeding process. Both the two have harmless bites and unless a mosquito is a carrier of a pathogen, they are only likely to cause an allergic reaction that is not too significant.

Mosquito bites vs bed bug bites -How to tell the Difference


Mosquitoes just like bed bugs are stealthy and they may bite you without your seeing. This means that you need to understand and be able to tell the difference between a mosquito and a bed bug bite. This is how a mosquito bite looks like:
  1. After a bite, a pale or red swelling or inflammation forms. It may also occur as a white swelling with a central reddening. The bump is at first soft and hardens when scratched.
  2. The swelling need no necessarily form on the same day or within the next 15 minutes after being bitten. It may form a day after.
  3. Blisters may form in some people rather than the normal reddened inflammation.
  4. Dark spots may form resembling scarring or dried bruises.
  5. Systemic symptoms may occur when you have an over-stimulation of the immune response particularly seen in people with some immune system disorders. The area may be overly swollen with some low grade fever and a headache.
  6. The bites are in isolation and get swollen faster than a bed bug bite.
Bed bug bites bear the following characteristics in appearance:
  1. The bites from a bed bug are flat and does not bear any central characteristic appearance to the swelling. The inflammation may redden but may appear as normal tinged to skin complexion in most people.
  2. Bed bug bites resemble welts. They appear as streaks that stretch in a multi-directional fashion but these are able to fade within the next few minutes.
  3. Bed bug bites occur in a line with about 4-6 bites. If these occur in total isolation, then your culprit isn’t a bed bug but a mosquito or something else.
  4. It may take longer for bed bug to start itching or appear. While it may take some few minutes for the reaction to appear in some people, it may take days to appear in others.


The size of bed bug bites are about 4-5 mm long and 1.5-3 mm wide while bites from a mosquito depends on the time the mosquito’s labium stuck into the skin. The longer, the larger it will become.

Disease Transmission

Bed bugs are not linked to any disease or pathogen even though researchers have found bed bugs to have some pathogens on their bodies. Mosquitoes are considered the most dangerous family of all arthropods as they have the potential to spread pathogens ranging from arboviruses to protozoa. Arboviruses are those viruses that are vectored by arthropods. The following are some of the diseases they can cause in human (Illinois Department of Public Health):
  1. Malaria: female Anopheles quadrimaculatus
  2. West Nile Virus: Culex mosquitoes ( pipiensand C. quinquefasciatus), the western encephalitis mosquito (C. tarsalis) and Aedes albopictus
  3. LaCross Encephalitis: Aedes albopictus
  4. Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitides: Eastern is caused by Culex tarsalis while several species cause the Western type.
  5. Zika virus: Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti
  6. Dengue fever
  7. Yellow fever
  8. Chikungunya virus
  9. Filariasis


When you are bitten by a mosquito, the bite turns red right away. They are rarely close seated but rather appear in isolation and only coincidence may render them close. Since the reaction is immediate, a rash or a raised bump appears quickly with a central white dot. While the reaction is common to everyone, there are people who get a more serious reaction to the bite with formation of blisters possible. Bed bugs bite and the time it will take for a reaction to occur depends on the individual. Reactions may range from the first 15 minutes to days after. The reaction results in red swellings, a rash or may resemble a welt. The bites appear in a line. Unlike mosquito bites, some people do not get a reaction.


Check to see if you can be able to tell the whether a reaction you have on your body is a mosquito’s or a bed bug’s. You can do this by:
  1. Checking the pattern, shape, spacing and the frequency of bites
  2. The color of the inflammation while taking keen interest of the center.
  3. The size of the bumps
  4. Any systemic symptoms that accompany the bite.
For bed bugs, you will be able to see bumps that are very small, appearing in a line or streaks with no characteristic center while mosquito bites have a central red with an adjacent white, appear in isolation and in no particular patter and may be accompanied by symptoms. If you are not able to identify a disturbing swelling, you should go see a doctor.

What and where they bite

Bed bug bite you when you are asleep or seated on your bed or other household furniture. They may bite during the day but are most prevalent in the night. They bite any part of the body as they can crawl on your body without your knowing and do not have to take advantage of body exposure as does a mosquito. They are normally attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale and this is why they seem to appear at night. Mosquitoes can bite anywhere too. Unlike bed bugs, they bite uncovered body parts and mostly preferring the upper torso. Mosquitoes are most prevalent when you have an existing bushy compound and standing water ponds just close to your house which facilitate breeding of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes commonly bite just before dawn too and in seasons that are warmer enhancing breeding of mosquitoes. They are most prevalent in the tropics.

Getting rid

In order to get rid of either mosquito or bed bug bites, you can either look out for home natural remedies that work or conventional medication to treat the itch and the inflammation. These are discussed in the following section.


Most bites from insects cause an allergic reaction and are therefore treated in the same way. This involves washing the areas bitten with some cold water and soap. Desist from using hot water as this may worsen the itch. You can also go colder with an ice pack on the area though this will have to be done for a non-diffuse reaction. There are natural home remedies that work well with inflammations and itch including peppermint, lavender and tea tree oils. You can also use some rose water. Always remember not to scratch either of the two bites as you face a risk of complicating them. Conventional treatment methods involving getting an over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatory corticosteroids and oral antihistamines. In the case with mosquito bites, it is not normally recommended that you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin as they make work but mask an incumbent infection especially if a pathogen has been transmitted to you.


To prevent mosquito bites entirely may not be possible but you can at least reduce the chances of they doing so:
  1. If you live in an area with mosquitoes, ensure that you have cleared your bush and any standing waters or pools to prevent breeding and therefore, bites.
  2. Use a net especially impregnated ones to prevent reach by mosquitoes.
  3. You can use the mosquito repellent DEET. It contains picaridin, an approved effective mosquito repellent by the CDC and further enjoying positive findings from a publication in the New England Journal of Medicinein 2002
  4. Use Citronella candles to draw mosquitoes away from where you sleep.
Bed bug bites can be prevent by doing the following:
  1. Try eliminating them by calling on professional pest service to treat your dwelling for you.
  2. You can try out a variety of methods that have been shown to work such as the use of interceptors on your bed, freezing harbors of bed bugs and wrapping items with bed bugs.
  3. You can try pushing your bed and furniture away from the walls as bed bugs are known to crawl on walls and onto furniture and bedding while you sleep.

 Pictures of Bites on Humans

mosquito bite photo
mosquito bites
Bed bug bite picture hand
Bed bug bite


Some of the similarities between mosquito and bed bug bites include:
  1. They both cause itchy allergic reactions
  2. They are both inflammations with some red on them
  3. The extent and severity of the inflammation is also dependent on the individual’s special responses hence varying sizes, onset time and duration of healing.
  4. Bites can occur anywhere on the body so long as the area is accessible.
Further Reading


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