Are Those Really Bed Bug Bites?
Are you waking up in the morning lately with itchy red welts and wondering are these bed bug bites? If so, you are far from alone.
This time of year, after the rain has ended and the sunny, warm weather arrives, many of us wake up with random bites on various parts of our body and have no idea where they came from. The answer may be much more difficult, if not impossible, to accurately pinpoint.
Do I have bed bug bites?
The natural reaction since we wake up in bed and see bite marks or welts, is to assume we have bud bugs, especially with all the press they are getting in recent months. This may be a possibility, however, a quick inspection & evaluation of your recent movement, guests, furniture can eliminate bed bugs as a possibility.
Do I have a bed bug infestation problem?
Did the bites ‘suddenly appear’? If so, and you have been living/sleeping there every night for a long time, it is unlikely. A bed bug infestation that would result in multiple bites being suddenly visible, would takes weeks (or months) to get that large, and you would see bites quantities increasing as the population of the infestation rose.
Have you recently purchased or acquired used furniture? if you haven’t, then you are also not a likely candidate for bed bugs. Used furniture is a common vehicle for bed bug infestations to relocate from home to home.
Have you recently had guests staying with you who have been, or are currently, traveling? If not, you likely didn’t have anyone bringing in bed bugs from other locations along their travels. This is one of the main reasons bed bug activity has skyrocketed worldwide over the past 5 years.
Have YOU recently been traveling? Did you bring any unforeseen guests home with you? Its possible. Bed bugs don’t differentiate between rich or poor, 5 star or backpacker hostel. No traveling = unlikely to bring home a bed bug.
So if it isn’t bed bugs biting you, what is? Could literally be anything and nothing. Most reputable pest control companies have a no bugs, no treatment policy, since we have strict guidelines on pesticide application in Canada. Even the installation of glue monitoring traps may not give us the information we desire to know, however, its not a bad start. Most pest control companies will sell you glue monitor traps you can place around the area you feel you getting bitten. After a couple weeks, check the glue for any sign of insect and contact the company to help in the identification.
What kind of bugs bites are these?
Searching for the bed bug that is biting you can be difficult at time. Other possible culprits may include:
- fleas (do you have pets or visited a person who does recently?) Flea bites are extremely itchy and will typically cause great discomfort. Often, you will find flea bites on your legs and feet, as they tend to target these areas. Flea bites appear as small red spots surrounded by a reddish halo. You may also experience hives, a rash, or swelling around the bite.
- mites (did you have a bird nesting in the attic, mice in the crawlspace? They may be gone, but the mites aren’t ) Mites may be the culprit if you have a bird nesting in your attic, or mice in the crawlspace. Even once these critters move on, the mites they attracted may remain.
Bites from mites often result in an itchy red rash in folds of skin, and may also appear between fingers, on the sides of your feet, or on the inside of your knees and elbows. It is also possible around the genitals. Avoid scratching as much as possible, as it may worsen symptoms.
- mosquitoes (been outside in the shade or during dusk recently?) If you’ve been spending time outside near dusk, or just hanging out in the shade, you’ve probably had encounters with mosquitoes. Most people are already familiar with mosquito bites– a puffy white bump with a red spot in the middle, which may turn reddish and hard by the next day. But chances are, you are already more than familiar with what mosquito bites look like.
- spiders (prefer cool, damp areas where other insects hide) Spider bites are often hard to see, and with many different types and sizes of spiders, identifying one of their bites may be difficult, especially since the enjoy living in cool, damp areas where other insects hide. If you see two tiny puncture holes right next to each other, you may be dealing with a spider bite. How serious it may be depends both on your reaction, and the type of spider.
Sadly, the only person to ever benefit from a spider bite was Peter Parker.
- chiggers (walking the dog or hiking near any long grass or fields?) Not as common as some other bites, you may find yourself getting a few if you’ve been walking or hiking in long grass or across fields. Chiggers like to target vulnerable areas like folds of skin and hair follicles. The result is a raised red bump that is very well-known for itching.
- sand flies aka no-see-em’s (very popular outdoor pest on the wet west coast) These are a common problem on the wet west coast. Sand fly bites appear as a small, swollen, blotchy patch which is a vivid red. Some individuals may suffer an allergic reaction which results in severe itching and may also produce purple and red welts around a cluster of bites. For most people the bites take a day or two to heal, though for those with allergic reactions, several weeks may be required.
- laundry soap change, allergies, cosmetic/hair product change (bodies react differently to varies environmental changes) There may also be other causes of red, itchy, irritated skin other than bug bites, such as a change in laundry soap or cosmetic products. One might develop an allergy, even if a given product has been used safely in the past. Irritation may occur, producing either itchiness, redness, or both.
- paper pr cardboard (large quantities in any environment produce microscopic slivers feeling like bites) Another surprising source or irritation could be paper or cardboard, large quantities of which may produce microscopic slivers that feel like insect bites.
The best thing is to start the elimination process, and that can begin by calling a pest management professional.
They can assess come to your home, inspect for a number of biting insects and help guide you in the proper direction (if not provide you with a treatment for a found insect infestation).
Consultation with you doctor is another great step, although most are unable to positively identify one bug bite from another.
They can help you deal with the bites, however, while you sort out the mystery of bite. Beyond that, general home sanitation is always a great idea to keep up & screens on windows will prevent access for many flying insects also.