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Healthline Physical Health

The differences between bed bug bites and mosquito bites

Bites from bed bugs and mosquitoes are both red and itchy and may seem similar. However, they come from separate creatures and have a few different characteristics.

Being able to tell the difference between the two means people can respond appropriately to the bites they get and take steps to keep from getting more.

This article discusses the differences between and treatments for bed bug bites and mosquito bites.

Bed bug bites

Just as with other bites, individuals react differently to bed bug bites, and it can take hours or days for these reactions to show up.

Some people find bed bug bites itchy and irritating, while others will develop more swollen, painful reactions.

Severe allergic responses are rare but can include anaphylaxis, which starts with a feeling of the throat closing up. Anaphylaxis can be life threatening and affect the whole body.

Individuals usually get several bed bug bites at a time, often in groups of three to five. The bites themselves are red and itchy and sometimes have a blister on top.

Bed bugs live on blood and are primarily active at night, so bites tend to show up where the skin is exposed at night.

Bed bugs must eat at least every 14 days to be able to mate and produce eggs but can also survive from months to up to a year without eating.

Mosquito bites

Female mosquitoes are the only mosquitoes that bite, and the contact must last for at least 6 seconds for enough mosquito saliva to enter the bloodstream and cause a reaction.

Mosquito bites resemble red bumps with a puncture wound in the center. Occasionally, if a person is very sensitive, they can produce welts, or larger raised areas.

The bites itch because of the way the immune system responds to mosquito saliva.

Mosquitoes are most likely to bite in the dark, between sunset and sunrise. Carbon dioxide, human sweat, and warmth may attract mosquitoes.

Differences between bites

Bites by mosquitoes and bed bugs have different characteristics on a person’s skin and in several other ways.


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