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Oh the horror! That moment when you see several red welts on your skin or on the skin of someone you love. When several noticeable and unexplainable bumps appear, you have bed bugs, right? Well, not necessarily. There are many bugs that can leave welts on your skin and sometimes it can be a real mystery. Here are some ways you can figure out whether or not you have bed bug bites.

Step 1: Bite Analysis

When bugs bite us, the wounds they leave vary in appearance, even for the same type of bug. A mosquito bite could be puffy, flat, and have a whitened appearance, or it could be a red bump, depending on how long it has been since you were bitten. If you have an allergic reaction, a mosquito bite could become inflamed. That bite will also look different for young people or old people and people of different skin types. This can make it difficult to figure out what bite you have simply by looking at it. Rather than attempt to educate you on bite characteristics such as blisters, rashes, ulcers, swelling, color, and other defining features, let's focus more on obvious clues:

  • If you have bites on your feet, ankles and legs and you remember stepping on a fire ant mound, you know what bit you. But, if you have bites on your feet, ankles and legs and don't clearly remember being bitten, it is likely that you have been bitten by fleas. This isn't because it doesn't hurt when you get bitten by a flea, it's just that you won't remember every time you were bitten.

  • If you have bites in folds of skin, under your armpits, or on your belt line, it is possible that you've been bitten by chiggers. These mites are extremely tiny and can be easy to miss when they crawl up onto you in your yard.

  • If you have bites in locations that are not usually covered by clothing and you've been somewhere where mosquitoes could bite you, you probably have mosquito bites. They may also be fly bites. There are many flies that bite us when we go outside, especially in moist, shaded woodland areas. These bites will appear random on the skin because each bite comes from one insect.

  • If you only have one or two bites, it is likely to be from a bug that doesn't prefer to bite humans, such as spiders or cockroaches.

  • Bed bug bites are unique because they are grouped. When these bugs feed at night, they usually do it three times. So, unlike flies and mosquitoes, the bites left by bed bugs won't have a random look. They will usually look like a path on the skin or a cluster of bites that follow a line pattern. These bites can be anywhere, but they are most often found toward the top of the body because bed bugs are drawn to the carbon dioxide we exhale.

Step 2: Inspection

If you are being bitten by bed bugs, you can confirm this fact by finding evidence of the bed bug infestation in your home. Start your inspection in the room of the person or persons who are being bitten. Search for:

  • Black patches, black streaks, and tiny black droppings left on sheets, bedspreads, pillow cases, mattresses, box springs, baseboards, outlet covers, carpet edges, upholstered furniture, crown molding, and more. Look in tight spaces, creases, and other hiding places. These are secretive bugs.

  • Shed insect casings. As bed bugs develop, they shed their skins. These skins can be found in all of the above locations

  • Tiny white eggs. A single bed bug egg is about 1 mm in length. Eggs may be littered about or stuck together into a batch.

  • Look for them in tight hiding places, especially luggage, bags, sleeping bags, and other items that are carried.

  • Blood stains. These stains will most often appear tan or brown. Look for them on any fabric.

  • Bed bugs. Obviously, if you examine your mattress and find dozens, or even hundreds, of tiny pale, tan, or rusty-red insects grouped together, or crawling around, you have an infestation. Newly hatched bed bugs, which are a little over 1 mm, will be pale. As they develop they will turn tan and eventually rusty-red. A full-grown adult will be around 4.5 mm.

If you discover a bed bug infestation, or you're not sure and want to be sure, reach out to the bed bug experts at Big Blue Bug Solutions. We provide industry-leading bed bug solutions for Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.    

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