Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites: How to Tell the Difference  

At first look, bed bug bites and mosquito bites appear very similar to each other. Many individuals often can’t determine which type of pest has bitten them, so they may not seek the appropriate pest control treatment. Proper identification of bed bug bites vs mosquito bites allows you to seek the correct services to eradicate the critters from your home or property.

Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bite infographic

Characteristics of Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites

While bed bug bites and mosquito bites both cause red and raised markings on the skin, they are different if you look closely.

What Does the Bite Look Like?

Bed bug bites are usually red and swollen with a pimple-like appearance. Mosquito bites have red and white coloring and varying sizes. When the bites appear on the skin is another indicator. Mosquito bite symptoms and the appearance of bumps can occur almost immediately after exposure. In comparison, bed bug bites may take hours or even days to appear.

How Does the Skin React?

Skin reactions can affect the exact appearance of mosquito bites and bed bug bites, causing them to appear somewhat differently on different people. Some individuals have no rash or bumps after bed bug bites. The size of a mosquito bite depends on how the skin interacts with the mosquito’s saliva.

How Many Bites Are There?

The number of bites can help distinguish whether mosquitoes or bed bugs are the culprits. Mosquito bites usually appear isolated in areas around the skin, while bed bug bites tend to lay in clusters together. It’s not uncommon for bed bug bites to appear in a straight line or zig-zag formation on the skin.

When Did the Bites Occur?

How to tell if you have bed bugs is an important – and concerning – question when unknown bites appear.

Bed bug bites happen most frequently, of course, in bedrooms. They are nocturnal pests that feast on the blood of human hosts while they sleep. The bugs reside in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and other pieces of furniture. If you develop bite marks after you sleep, then the likely culprit is bed bugs.

  • Bite marks appear on any exposed areas of the skin that isn’t covered by clothing articles.
  • Bed bugs can also leave behind rust-colored stains on blankets and sheets after they bite their hosts.
  • Bed bugs are active year-round since they reside indoors.

Mosquito bite symptoms tend to appear after you’ve spent time outdoors. There are nearly 200 species of mosquitoes in the United States, each with its own activity level. However, most mosquito bites occur in the dusk hours.

  • Attacks are also more likely to happen if you’re outdoors near any standing water, but mosquitoes can live indoors and bite an individual inside his or her home, also.
  • Warm weather months leave you most prone to mosquito bites.
PestAppearanceBite Location
Bed BugRed and swollen pimple-like markingsClusters, straight line or zig-zag patterns
MosquitoRed and white puffy markingsIsolated or random patterns


Mosquito Bite Symptoms vs. Bed Bug Bite Symptoms

Mosquito bite signs start with a continuous itching sensation. Although people can have different degrees of discomfort, most people will experience some itchiness almost immediately after a mosquito attack. In some cases, blisters could occur at the bite sites. Besides skin irritations, mosquito bites could cause fatigue, fever, and swollen joints.

Bed bug symptoms may be different. In fact, a person may not have bed bug bite symptoms at all. If itchiness does occur, the irritation may not present itself until several hours or days after exposure.

Not only do symptoms take longer to manifest, but the bites’ discomfort may also last longer than mosquito bites. Bed bug signs may last for several days, while mosquito bite symptoms generally go away in about a day.

Treatment of Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites

Bed Bug Bites

  • Clean the affected area with water and mild soap.
  • Keeping your skin clean reduces your chances of contracting an infection.
  • If you develop itching or discomfort, apply a topical corticosteroid cream as needed.

Mosquito Bites

  • Clean the skin to prevent an infection.
  • Help combat swelling or itching by applying an ice pack for 10-minute intervals.
  • Use a topical antihistamine ointment on mosquito bites as needed. Mosquito bites typically heal in less than 48 hours.

Contact Carolina Pest Management if you suspect a bed bug or mosquito problem. Our expert team will identify the pest and devise an effective treatment to remove the bugs from your property for good.

By Kristin Dodd

Kristin Dodd, the President of Carolina Pest Management, has been with the company full-time for over 20 years, but has been a part of the family-owned business for much longer. She is currently an active board member of the North Carolina Pest Management Association, and was the President from 2010-2011. She is a licensed operator in...

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