Difference Between Bed Bugs and Fleas

Bed Bugs vs Fleas

When the nuisance is considered, both bed bugs and fleas are equally problematic insects for the humans. However, other concerns and their characteristics can be used to differentiate these insects with not much problem. This article would be important to understand those important differences between them.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are external parasites of mammals, and they have been classified under the Order: Hemiptera and Family: Cimicidae. There are more than 30 species of bed bugs described under 22 species. They are blood sucking insects, and the most infamous of all those species is the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius. Bed bugs prefer to inhabit beds, chairs, and any place where people used to rest for a long time.

These light brown or reddish brown coloured insects are about 4 – 5 millimetres in length and 1.5 – 3 millimetres in width. They do not have hind wings, but the front wings have been modified into pad-like structures. Their overall body shape is ovular, and it is dorsoventrally flattened. Their maxilla and mandibles have been developed into piercing and sucking mouthparts that enable them to feed on mammalian blood. With one diet of blood, an individual can live up to a year without feeding. It irritates the skin when they bite the skin to suck blood. Their bites can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions, but sometimes those can lead up to psychological effects, as well.

Bed bugs perform their sexual breeding through traumatic insemination, and hundreds of eggs are laid, and one individual goes through six moults before becoming an adult. These nuisance insects could be controlled through insecticides or natural predators. However, nowadays, there are trained dogs to spot these bugs.


Fleas are the insects of the Order: Siphonaptera of the Superorder: Endopterygota. There are more than 2,000 of described flea species in the world. Fleas do not fly, as they do not have wings, but their mouthparts are well adapted to pierce the skin and suck the blood of hosts; that means they are ectoparasites feeding on avian and mammalian blood. In addition, it would be important to know that their sharp mouthparts are developed like a tube, to carry the sucked blood of the hosts.

These wingless and dark-coloured creatures have three pairs of long legs, but the hind-most pair is the longest of all, and it is as twice as the other two pairs in length. In addition, those two legs are equipped with good muscle supply. All these mean that the hind legs can be used to jump a considerable range, which is about seven inches above the ground against the gravity. Therefore, fleas do not have to wait for their hosts to touch the ground to find a food source, but they can attach to one as soon as the host gets nearby.

Fleas can cause problems to host in many ways including itching from bites or skin rashes. However, their infestations can be very dangerous since they are vectors of many bacterial (murine typhus), viral (myxomatosis), helminthic (tapeworms), and protozoan (Trypanosomes) diseases.

What is the difference between Bed Bugs and Fleas?

• Both are external parasites, but fleas can cause more medical concerns than bed bugs. In other words, fleas are disease agents, but bed bugs are irritating and nuisance insects.

• Bed bugs are Hemipterans, but fleas are Siphonapterans.

• Fleas are taxonomically more diversified than bed bugs are.

• Bed bugs are dorsoventrally flattened while fleas are laterally flattened.

• Bed bugs have a harder external cuticle than fleas do.

• Fleas live on the skin of the host, but bed bugs stay outside and feed on the host from there.

• Fleas can jump very high but not the bed bugs.