Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites: How To Tell The Difference

The thought of having both mosquito bite and a bed bug bite makes my skin crawl! How disgusting can that be for the body?!

If that were to happen to you, you might feel the exact same way!

But curiosity may creep in and ask “which bug bite is which?” It could be a challenging situation to figure out by yourself.

I’ll help you discern the difference between a mosquito bite and a bed bug bite.

Itchy Vs. Non-Itchy

Mosquito Bites

As we all know, a bite from a mosquito is really itchy! Although this is irritable, there is a reason for this.

And that reason is called histamine.

When a mosquito bites you, it shoots its own saliva into you blood to keep it flowing, and you occupied, while it sucks the blood right out of you. 

Once you notice that, it begins to itch instantly; that’s histamine, a bodily chemical that reacts to allergens that you can feel working to protecting you to fight off the foreign fluid. 

Unfortunately it itches, but fortunately the itching stops within minutes.

Bed Bug Bites

Unlike bed bed bugs bites that have a delayed offset of itchiness; about 10 to 14 days before the itch of those pesky bites begin to subside. 

Like the mosquito, a bed bug relays bot an anesthetic and an anticoagulant through their small and powerful straw-like mouth. As this fluid flows through our body, it too will create the sensation to scratch. 

However, this sensation takes a while to develop simply because of the speed at which the fluid travels, which is much slower than the mosquitos; therefore, taking much longer to literally feel the burn.

An antihistamine usually takes care of this problem as soon as it arises.

Appearance

Mosquito Bites

The appearance of a mosquito bite usually appears as a single raised bump.  It can be small or large, depending on how much histamine is flowing, and how much you scratch it. 

When it appears, a mosquito bite can seem harmless at first; until it begins to itch. One you start scratching – although it feels amazing – it can cause redness within the bump, as well as swelling and soreness. 

Multiple mosquito bites will appear in an unorganized random pattern.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bite characteristics tend to show similarities to that of a mosquito bite, with one major difference. 

The bites are usually localized reddish-colored skin lesions. They may appear as flat wets or raised bumps. 

Notice how I said bumps, meaning multiple bumps. When bed bugs bite you, the bumps tend to be in a cluster, or group, versus an individual bump, like from a mosquito.

When bitten repeatedly over time, the bites will have more pronounced symptoms. Instead of a simple bump, it could result in scarring, or even a skin infection due to breaking the skin too much while scratching.

Number(s)

Mosquito Bites

Even when you have multiple mosquito bites and you’re scratching and rubbing all over your body, thank your lucky stars; why?

Because regardless of the number of bumps you have, there’s usually only one mosquito causing all of the damage. 

An individual mosquito is known to hop from spot-to-spot looking for a good meal to score on your body. Even if one more joins the buffet, they are operating on their individual terms. 

Now, of course more will hop in if you are unaware that it’s happening, but you can relax by fully comprehending that mosquitoes make their own decisions, and will bite based on the strength of the chemical it senses from its victim.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs on the other hand are complete copycats.

They are a very communal bunch of insects that like to play follow the leader; and I mean that in the most literal way possible.

The bed bug with the strongest sensors generally leads the pack of three or more bed bugs. They follow each other in a single-file line, and when the leader finds its hotspot, the entire line of bugs will stop, rest, and begin draining you of your life force, or blood. 

This is also the reason as to why bed bug bites are usually in clusters.

Sensitivity

Mosquito Bites

The bite from a mosquito will begin to itch as soon as you become aware of the fact that it’s there. Once the bite begins to itch, your body send chemical messages to that localized area in order to reduce the side effects.

A cool feature about this unfortunate mechanism is that over time, you can become less sensitive to the bites! 

Your body will become inoculated to the sensation and fluids from a mosquito, and will reduce the symptoms faster and faster each time.

Bed Bug Bites

When compared to mosquito bites, the sensitivity of  a bed bug bites operates in the exact opposite way.

When you’re bitten by bed bugs in random patterns over time, the initial phase can be a bit nettling, and will take several days to subside. However; if bitten again, the symptoms will actually increase a bit more. 

If you are constantly bitten over and over again by bed bug, hyper-sensitivity can occur, making each bite more painful and longer lasting than the previous bites.

This is because of the flow of their fluid that I mentioned earlier. Tragically, when sporadically bitten, it takes long for the fluid to flow, meaning that it will stay in your body long; thus, increasing your sensitivity to bed bug bites.

Final Thoughts

After reading the research, I realized that while mosquito bites are one of the most annoying attributes that we can experience from them, it’s better to stick with the devil we know, because the bite from a bed bug seems even more nettiling.

Of course you wouldn’t want a disease that a mosquito may carry, but after reading this, a mosquito bump seems quite harmless and much easier to manage than a bed bug bite.

Timothy Collins
Timothy Collins
T.J. is an avid naturalist and writer. He's a major fan of nature, and uses his skills to provide interesting information about the critters that reside in it.

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