Chigger bites vs bed bug bites: Identify bug bite differences

Post date: January 26th, 2019


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How can you identifyChigger bites vs Bed bug bites?

Chiggers, (also called berry bugs) arent actually insects. Instead, they belong to the mite family, and they are closely related to spiders and ticks. However, their bites look similar to bed bugs.

Although they arent ticks, these larval mites are quite small and measure around 0.15mm to 0.25mm in length. They are reddish-orange to red in color and have six legs. The preferred habitat for chiggers is grassy areas and thick, scrub-type vegetation where there is undisturbed soil so that chiggers can easily latch onto the hosts that pass by.However, generally, chiggers are found in rural areas that are less disturbed, and they can persist for many years.

What do chiggers feed on?Similar to dust mites, chiggers feed on animals skin cells. The parasitic larva feeds on various creatures which also includes quail, box turtles, toads, rabbits, humans, along with a few insects too.Once they crawl on the hosts, they release digestive enzymes into the hosts skin which breaks down the skin cells. Instead of a bite, chiggers make a hole in the skin which is called a stylostome. Then, they chew small parts of the inner skin which leads to swelling and irritation.

How do chiggers reproduce?Adult male chiggers move around their habitat and leave behind tiny capsules of sperm which are called spermatophores. The adult female chiggers find the capsules and insert them into the genital pore.After around fourteen days of the egg fertilizing, the female then leaves the fertilized egg on the surface of the soil.

On the other hand, bed bugs are reddish brown in color, and they have a flat, oval shape. They measure around 4mm to 5mm in length and are around the size of an apple seed. Once they have a blood meal, bed bugs become reddish and swollen.

How does infestation take place? They are generally found in small crevices and cracks. They can also be found in furniture, sheets, and mattress seams. Other common hiding places also include behind picture frames, electrical outlet plates, and baseboards.The most common place that bed bugs can be found in is hotels as they can travel from one room to the other in the visitors luggage or personal belongings like briefcases and purses.

Where do bed bugs hide? As mentioned earlier, bed bugs can enter your house without being detected via used couches and beds, clothing, and luggage, among other items. Since they have a flat body, fitting into small places is possible for them. Bed bugs can even hide in places as thin as the width of a regular credit card.While bed bugs dont have nests like bees and ants do, they still tend to live in groups.

Initially, bed bugs hide in places like headboards, bed frames, box springs, mattresses, and other similar places from where they can have easy access for biting people in the night. However, with time, the bed bugs can scatter throughout the room and can move into other locations.They can also spread to nearby rooms and apartments. Since bed bugs survive only on blood, having bed bugs in your house doesnt mean say anything about your hygiene. The possibility of having bed bugs in clean, immaculate homes is the same as in dirty ones.

Bed bugs reproduction cycleFemale bed bugs can deposit one to five eggs in a single day. In their lifetime, females might lay, on average, around 200 to 500 eggs. With sufficient food supply and a regular room temperature, then they can survive for more than 300 days.

Preferred habitat for bed bugsAs apparent by the name, bed bugs prefer to live in warm beds. However, their habitats can also include car and bus seats, backpacks, couches, and clothes.

Distinguishing between bed bug bites and chigger bites can be a little tricky; however, there are some clues you can look for to figure out which of the two bit you.Often, bed bug bites and chigger bites look almost the same. Both of them produce small, reddened areas that are usually swollen. The area might also be raised slightly because of inflammation.

Both bites are also quite itchy which means that you cant judge the bite based on the itchiness level. You must make sure, however, that you dont pick at the bite; otherwise, it will get much worse.

One way you can identify the bite is to look for the bug. You will be able to see the bed bugs under the mattress and on your body. Chiggers are extremely small and you might not even be able to see them.

Since, more often than not, chiggers are brought in from the outside via legs there is a high chance that the bites on your legs are chigger bites. Chigger bites can also be on the groin, ankles, and feet.

On the other hand, bed bugs bite all of the extremities. Thus, it is better to note when the bites appeared first and where so that you have a better idea of the bug you are dealing with.The best way of identifying the bug is to look at the biting pattern. While bed bugs tend to bite in a straight line, chiggers bite randomly.

Symptoms: chigger bites vs bed bug bitesBoth chigger and bed bug bites bring along different symptoms and side effects.

The symptoms of chigger bites appear right after the enzyme is injected into the skin. Remember that a chigger bite itself is hardly noticeable. The most common symptoms include a flat or raised red colored bump on the skin or a skin bump that resembles a pimple or blister accompanied with itching that can be quite intense.

The primary symptom is itching, this is most intense after two days of being bitten. The itchiness can last for a number of days and the bitten area can take up to even 15 days to return to its normal appearance.

In the majority of the cases, the symptoms occur almost immediately after the chigger bites; however, they can start to progress or develop in the days following the bite. If there is no further irritation, then the symptoms usually go away after just a week.

There are also many cases where people dont feel the bite, or they dont experience any symptoms apart from the minuscule dots where the bug bit along with some minor irritation and inflammation.Meanwhile, a few people are hypersensitive to bites and can develop severe symptoms as well.Since a condition which is characterized by itching can cause extreme scratching, the person can experience disruption of the skin. As a result, there is a possibility of a secondary bacterial skin infection.

Almost all bed bug bites cause a degree of discomfort along with inflammation and itchiness. Other symptoms that bed bug bites lead to include a painful, burning sensation, an itchy, raised bump that has a clear center, or an itchy bump with a dark center but light surrounding areas that are often swollen.

Symptoms can also be small red welts or bumps in a line or a zigzag pattern, and small bumps surrounded by hives or blisters.

In some rare cases, some people experience severe symptoms or reactions after being bitten by a bed bug. These symptoms can include difficulty in breathing, an irregular heartbeat, swollen tongue, blisters, and nausea. Such individuals require immediate medical attention.

Both of the bites being discussed are to be treated differently and here is what you can do to reduce the swelling.

Bed Bug Remedies

There are only a handful of options when it comes to treating bed bug bites. However, the first step is to clean the bite, preferably using water and soap. If the bite is too itchy, then you must refer to antihistamines, anti-itch creams, and over-the-counter hydrocortisone.The affected area tends to heal on their own in just a week. However, if severe itchiness, inflammation, or swelling continues, then medical attention is definitely needed.

Preventing bed bug bites

The main way of preventing a bed bug bite is to stop the insect from entering, breeding, and feeding in the human environment. During the day, the bugs stay in the cracks in the mattresses, walls, flooring, and furniture. They can also be in vacuum canisters.Areas where infestations most commonly occur include condominium buildings, hotels, large offices, daycares, cruise ships, hospitals, vacation rentals, public transportation, shopping malls, second-hand stores, and college dorms.

Items that bring bed bugs into your house include used furniture, luggage, bedding, storage boxes, loungers placed in common areas, and shipped items.To prevent bed bug bites, you must reduce the number of hiding places and try out integrated pest management techniques. Wash and heat-dry the bedspreads, bed sheets, blankets, as well as other clothes that come in contact with the floor. Using a mattress encasement cover isolates bed bugs from you.Another great idea is to hire professional services and get an efficient pesticide sprayed in your house once a year. If this sound like an expensive option, this can be done by yourself using a bed bug spray.

For chigger bites

Similar to spider bites, first, take a shower and thoroughly scrub the skin with water and soap. This way, any chiggers that are still stuck to your body will be washed off. Then, with hot water, wash your clothes along with any towel or blankets that were in contact with the ground so that all the bugs hanging on are killed.

Next, treat the bites using an over-the-counter anti-itch ointment or cream such as hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, and menthol. For quick relief, you can also use a cold compress or antihistamine pills.Chigger bites can get better with time; however, if the bite still bothers you after some days, then you must see the doctor.

In some cases, you might need steroid shots to calm the swelling and itching. In case the bites become infected, then you might have to take antibiotics as well.

Preventing chigger bites

While spending time in grassy areas, you must either use an insect repellent with DEET or wear such clothing that has been treated with insecticides like permethrin. While spraying the insecticide, focus more on those areas where the chiggers may travel from the clothing to the skin such as necklines and cuffs.Natural sprays can also help to keep chiggers away. Try out those that include oils made from lemongrass, geranium, jojoba, tea tree, and citronella. Wear long pants and long sleeves with the pant legs safely tucked in the long socks so that you are not an easy target.

While its difficult to distinguish a chigger bite from a bed bug bite, there are some signs (mentioned above) that can help you figure it out, if inspected closely.

While both bites appear the same, the differences lie in the biting pattern and the symptoms one experiences after the bite.Make sure you take all the necessary measures to stay protected from both Bed bugs and Chiggers!

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Chigger bites vs bed bug bites: Identify bug bite differences

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