scratching pet

One in five Americans has contended with a bed bug infestation in their life. Naturally, that can be concerning for someone with an apparent bite. Nearly as common, flea bites can look quite similar and potentially as concerning. If you live in Windsor or Somers Connecticut, Longmeadow, or Springfield Massachusetts, you’re no stranger to the pet-centric pests known as fleas. Here’s how to tell them apart and how to keep them out of your home in the first place.

Bed Bugs Bite

Bed bugs often bite several times in a row, so the bites may appear in a line, grouped closely together. They may also appear in an uneven, zig-zag pattern on the skin, as we move involuntarily in our sleep and can interrupt the bed bug feeding patterns. The bites can swell up to form red welts or bumps. Bed bugs typically bite the first area of human “real estate” that they can find, typically the neck, hands, arms, feet, and legs.

If given the opportunity, however, they may also target your back or torso. Bed bug bites typically aren’t painful like wasp or bee stings, but they can come with intense itching. These can often go unnoticed at the time of the bite, as some people don’t develop symptoms until two to three days after the bite occurs. The most common skin reaction is typically a series of red, itchy splotches or welts.

Mind Your Fleas and Qs

On people, flea bites will usually start at the ankles and work their way up. Look for randomly patterned red bumps there.  The good news is that fleas prefer to bite cats and dogs rather than people.  If you suspect a flea infestation, check your pets for red bumps that can appear anywhere on their body, but pay attention to the belly, under the legs, or base of the tail, and the behind. Are your pets itching and scratching? Dogs and cats can be allergic to a protein in the flea’s saliva and if so, will start scratching as soon as the flea bites their skin. Even one single flea bite can cause your pet to scratch excessively for several days.

If you think your pet may have fleas, do a visual check. Adult fleas are small and brown, and relatively easy to see with the naked eye. Adult flea feces, or flea dirt, looks like small specks of black pepper. Have your pet lie on their side and check any bare skin for these signs. Fine-tooth metal combs are available from most vets and pet stores that are made especially for fleas. Use one of these to confirm the existence of fleas on your pet.

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites

  • Thoroughly inspect your luggage before bringing it into the house. Ignore any funny looks from the neighbors– it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Consider vacuuming your suitcases, including the outer seams, before storing them away.
  • Consider washing all the clothes you brought–even those that haven’t been worn–in the hottest recommended water temperature to ensure any bed bugs won’t make it into your closet.
  • Check your home frequently for bed bugs after a trip.
  • Wash your bed linens regularly.

How to Prevent Flea Bites

  • If you have pets, use a veterinary-approved flea prevention product regularly.  Check your pets frequently for fleas.
  • Be aware of excessive scratching, licking, and nibbling-grooming behavior in pets.
  • Avoid walking in tall grass.
  • Check yourself and pets after walks or playtime with other animals as fleas and can jump from host to host.
  • Wash pet bedding regularly.
  • Vacuum floors and furniture frequently, especially areas where pets sleep or frequent.  If you suspect fleas are present, check the vacuum bags/collectors for adult fleas. Empty and throw the contents away in an outside receptacle if you find fleas.

Find out how our prevention plans stop issues before they start. Call us at 413-566-8222 or contact us with any questions or if you are experiencing a pest problem. We have the knowledge and the services necessary to help keep your home pest-free!

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