After a long, fun day at the park, you come home feeling refreshed, a little tired and itchy all over. With each scratch, those bites on your legs and arms swell.
What exactly bit you? Was it a flea? A mosquito? Chiggers? A spider?
Your first instinct may be to assume that it was flea. We’re going to compare flea bites to these three common bug bites to help you determine which one it is.
First, let’s take a closer look at flea bites.
Flea Bite Vs. Chigger Bite
It’s easy to confuse chigger and flea bites, but these two insects are very different.
Chiggers can be found in every country, and they prefer grassy, moist areas. The thing about these insects is that the adults don’t actually bite humans – it’s the larvae that do the biting. Baby chiggers are usually yellow, orange or straw-colored, and are no more than 0.3 millimeters long.
Bites from chiggers are most common in the spring, summer and the early fall.
Chiggers latch onto the skin using their sharp claws, which act like jaws. These claws make holes, and the chigger then injects saliva. That saliva turns your cells into mush. Those mushy cells serve as a food source for the baby chigger.
These bugs can attach to your skin for several days and continue eating.
While chiggers can bite anywhere on the body, they are often found in clusters on the lower legs and the waist. Itching lasts for several days and can sometimes be so intense that it keeps you awake at night.
Chigger bites can cause skin redness, blisters, bumps and even hive-like rashes.
Flea bites can also occur in clusters, but the biggest difference here is the color of the bites. Chigger bites tend to be very red in color, and may even have a ring of redness around the raised bite mark. While fleas can bite in clusters as well, you tend to get a lot more bites with chiggers in one area.
Check the location and number of bites. If you have clusters on the waist or ankles, there’s a good chance you were bit by chiggers.
If you have just one or two bites, there’s a chance it could have been fleas. And if the bites occurred after hanging out in a sandy area, the chances of the bites being from fleas is even greater.
Flea Bite Vs. Spider Bite
Yes, spiders can and do bite. But the good news is that the bites are typically not poisonous. Most of the time, their bites only cause swelling, redness and pain at the bite site.
Some spider bites are poisonous and considered a medical emergency. Allergic reactions to these bites can cause serious symptoms, including tightening in the chest, difficulty swallowing, a swollen face and breathing issues.
Dry bites, or non-venomous spider bites, usually cause pain that lasts 5-60 minutes. Venomous bites, on the other hand, can cause pain that lasts several days.
Most spider bites are harmless.
There are only two spider bites that you really need to be concerned about: the brown recluse and the black widow.
Bites from black widow spiders can lead to severe cramping and pain in the abdominal area. Brown recluse spider bites can cause sharp pains or a stinging sensation, similar to bee stings. When bites are severe, it can lead to skin necrosis around the affected area.
Spider bites will be larger than flea bites, and they do not itch – they’re painful. Most people are well aware that they were bit by a spider because these insects typically only bite out of self-defense.
Flea Bite Vs. Mosquito Bite
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between flea bites and mosquito bites. Mosquitos leave behind similar red, bumpy bites.
Paying attention to the location of the bite and the time of day the bite occurred can help you determine which insect bit you.
Mosquito bites, like flea bites, are incredibly itchy, red in color and typically swell. Those who have allergic reactions to mosquito bites may develop intense swelling and rashes.
If the bites occurred outdoors in a humid environment around or after dusk, there’s a good chance it was a mosquito that bit you. If the bite was higher up on the body, it’s less likely to be from a flea. Fleas do not fly and cannot jump that high – unless you were laying on the ground or kneeling down.
Most bug bites disappear in a few days, and unless you develop a severe allergic reaction or are bit by a dangerous poisonous spider, there’s no need to really worry about the type of insect that bit you.