Is it fleas or bed bugs?? [p bello's directions for one made flea trap](19 posts)
I'm not sure if it's bed bugs or fleas... my gut says bed bugs, but I'm hoping it's not - would really like some opinions before I invest in a PCO to determine whether I have bed bugs/eradicate them... so here are the chain of events; please let me know what you think.
- 2 nights ago (before going to sleep, so I had not been itchy all day) , I started getting itchy and found around 10 bites on my body. They are almost all on my torso; one on my arm.
- I can see the bite center (red dot), and around that the bite is red (around 2cm diameter) and itchy.
- I was fostering cats a few months ago and they brought fleas into the house. Recently, my cat has been scratching himself; it seems like it's slightly more than normal, however when I flea combed him, I didn't find anything.
- Last night, on the cat's blanket/bedding I noticed what appeared to be bug droppings (small, kind of curly brown/black shavings. When I wiped these up with a wet cloth, they began to dissolve). I read both flea and bed bug droppings both do this, however is it indicative of some bug?
- Last night, I gave my cat Capstar in case, which kills any live fleas on him within 30 minutes. That night, I found one dead flea on the couch.
- Today, I sprayed down my apartment with Zoecon Precor 2000, which should kill/prevent just in case.
- Today, I also checked all around the mattress/bedframe, behind my hanging mirror, washed the sheets, vacuumed as much as I could, and steam mopped the floors. I didn't see any evidence of any bugs.
- It has been around 2 nights since I was last bitten.
I'm not sure what it is. It seems there is evidence it could be either, but I can't find a specimen of a bed bug, but I did find a dead flea... However I think it may be bed bugs because:
- Fleas don't typically bite the torso. Last time I had fleas, almost all bites were on my feet; only a couple on my torso.
- The bites haven't been every night; with fleas, they can bite every night - but BBs don't need to feed for a few days
- The bite didn't start itching until later in the day; both flea and BB bites can take a while to begin itching
This is horrible, and I can't sleep well at night! Both options are bad, but at least with fleas I know how to deal with it and already am prepared with supplies.
Help! What could it be? What else should I be doing?
Well, you've described a flea problem pretty well. Bedbug feces aren't "curly" and flea poop is for sure. And it was on your cat's bedding. Plus, well, you found a dead flea.
Bites aren't conclusive, but I think you can safely say you know you have fleas. Usually takes up to 72 hours after I treat my cats for me to stop seeing fleas around.
I'd work on getting rid of the fleas, then once that's done, you can see if the bites remain and go from there.
Although fleas may not commonly bite the torso, I wonder if this is more likely if you have a cat that curls up next to you on the bed or in a chair/sofa, or even one that sits where you sit or sleep.
I would say give it a few weeks and see if you are bitten anymore. I'm betting it was probably fleas. We moved to a place with a bad flea problem and my dogs suddenly had them bad. The problem didn't completely stop until both had been on Comfortis for over a month (ie; after their second dose). It can take a few weeks for the problem to resolve.
In my case I would feel like things were crawling on me, it was a horrible sensation. It went away as soon as the flea problem resolved.
I am hoping you are all correct and it is fleas. I am equipped to deal with this, and it won't cost thousands! I am buying diatomaceous earth and sprinkling it around the bed and couch in case; I read it's a viable treatment plan for both types of insect problems.
I can find very little documentation of fleas biting the torso, and torso bites point to bed bugs. I guess I can't do much but wait it out for a few more days to see what happens next. I have searched again now that it is dark and have yet to find anything (a good sign that I haven't seen any trace - fecal matter, blood stains, shells, etc in 3 days of searching right?).
The gritty, black droppings which dissolve in water and turn red is a classic sign of fleas. You don't get close to the same red colour with bedbugs faeces and they are much less soluble. The delay between you fostering the cats and now finding bites would also be expected because the cats scratch themselves and dislodge flea eggs, the eggs hatch and the flea larvae live off the host in the carpets etc. The bites only resume once the larvae reach maturity.
The key is to use a systemic treatment on your cats (in the UK, Frontline is the best) and use the entire course of treatment. You have to allow time for eggs around the house to hatch and the larvae to mature and find their way back to the cat. If you stop treating as soon as you stop getting bitten the treatment will usually fail.
As an adjunct too (not a substitute for) treating the animals for fleas, we have had really good luck in the past with FleaBusters powder, which is a boric-acid type product but is not the same as plain old boric acid (from what I have read, the particles are smaller and are neutrally charged?) Anyway, that kept the flea problem at nil in our old house.
Maybe experts could weigh on in this, but is it okay to use Fleabusters for fleas or will that mess up the PCO if they ever need to treat for a bedbug problem, such as in the case of the OP who is not sure if s/he has fleas or bedbugs?
Update!! I have not found any more bites on my body since. However, today, I found this little guy crawling up the wall near my kitchen. Body doesn't look as flat or round as a bed bug and the head looks more separated from the body, but it's the right size, has small antennae, 6 legs... I stuck it in a test tube and after coating it in DE (which made it all white), I then added some water so he could be seen.
Pencil is for scale
Thoughts? Or do I not need to have another panic attack...
An easy way to tell if it's fleas is to prepare a homemade flea trap.
You'll need the following:
> an old fashion desk lamp, the type where you can direct the light with the metal flex arm that extends upward from the base.
> a shallow baking tray of about 9" x 12" or larger. The kind you might bake lasagna in is fine. White ceramic bakewear is even better as you can see the fleas easier once trapped.
> Some tap water.
> 1/2 tsp dishwashing liquid
> Place the dw liquid into the baking pan.
> Fill with about 1/2 to 3/4 inch water and no more. Avoid creating making bubbles/suds when doing so.
> Place the baking pan on the floor in a room where you suspect flea activity.
> Place the desk lamp adjacent to the pan such that you can direct the light downard toward the center of the pan. We want the light to be about 6 inches from the water surface. Turn the light on and leave it on.
> Check the trap occasionally to assure that the water does not evaporate. Replenish the water & soap as needed.
Here's what happens:
If you do have fleas, they will be attracted to the light and warmth thereof. They will travel over toward the pan and hop in. he water will trap them and they will sink in the water due to the soap which breaks the surface tension and causes them to sink. WIthout soap they will float and may eventually escape.
If flease are present you will catch some in anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
If you catch fleas then perhaps you can rule out BBs and rest more easily.
Have fun ! paul b.
[admin note: homemade flea trap]
The insect on the test tube is a small beetle. Could be a minute brown scavenger beetle, a latridiid. Hard to say from the size of the beetle in the images. These insects are not feeding on you and taking blood. If you indeed have fleas or bed bugs, they would be feeding on you. It's important to identify the unknown insect or arachnid first before deploying any pesticide treatment.
Sorry to hear about your issue, but i'm almost relieved..... because i'm recently going thru a similar scenario..... only it's doubly scary for me..... because i had a bed bug issue at the end of august / september. It was dealt with (and it took a long time to absoluely convince me that that they were gone - but they are) - only now..... i think i have fleas!
I am currently getting these bites / marks..... occasionally in oct / nov but just recently an increase..... but they are different from the BB bites. I think my cat possibly pick up fleas when i sent her to be boarded at the vet, during the BB exterminations! that is my only guess. I thought this was all over - i have only seen something once..... about 3 weeks ago - on the chair where we both sit, i did see something small, what looked like a bugs or something...... i went to grab it & sqoosh it..... but i had a hard time - it jumped ! That is when 'flea' first went through my head..... i dont see any on my cat per se, but every so often, i see her shaking a bit, and kind of itching abruptly by her ear..... or sometimes by her tail / back, etc. The bites on me are more frequent now - and yes, they ARE some my torso.... and some on my legs & feet. Fleas can bite your torso..... for me it makes sense anyway, because my cat is constantly sitting on my lap in the chair..... or resting along side me leaning on me..... and sleeps between my knees in the bed at night. At first i was relieved when i saw what i thought was the flea, but now i'm not...... it seems to have escalated and i'm not sure what to do.
Tonight i am going to Petco and buying the Capstar pills..... i'll give her one tonight and see what happens. I vacuumed on Tuesday like crazy and flooded the chair and underneath the chair with Diatenaceous Earth. It is also all over the side of my matress (still doing from previous bb days). What is the spray that you bought? Do you think i need to call back the PCO? They are a BB company. Also, the cat was recently at my parents house for ten days..... (she seemed fine) - do you think she could have brought fleas there? I wonder if they are more on the cat, or more in my apartment / chair, etc?
Any advice would be appreciated......i just put up a long topic on this today, but cannot find it now in the search. It was called - 'Fleas after Bed Bugs? And how to get rid of Fleas???" Good luck and thank you!
For fleas, I solved the issue with:
- Vacuuming (I hired a cleaning lady to come for 4 hours to just vacuum and wash bedding)
- Washing bedding
- Capstar (you will see them die and fall off the body within 30 minutes... creepy, but effective)
- Frontline (do not wash the cat for at least 2 days after application)
- PreCor 2000 spray. It's not toxic to the animals and humans; spray, leave the room for an hour ventilated.
- DE on all harder to reach ground surfaces
I tried a bunch of other 'friendly' flea sprays and they absolutely did not work, and some are not cat AND dog friendly.
Hope that helps! I had a pretty bad flea problem that is now gone (with the exception of the one dead flea I found a few weeks later. It happens). It may take a couple weeks as new ones may hatch, but usually by then it's much less to deal with.
Gkats, thank you for your reply.
Tonight i bought the CapStar pill - i'm going to give it to her tomorrow morning. Do you give it once a day, or once a week? I read a lot about one a day until improvement but in the enclosed instructions it says once a week.
I will try the PreCor 2000 spray. I dont see any stores that sell it though, i assume you have to buy it online? Having the same issue with electric flee traps.... even Petco did not sell them, and they never heard of them.
I should mention that i dont even really have any bedding - since the bb issue months ago. My matress is triple covered with a protector encasement, and i only put a white sheet over it. And then a light colored light blanket on the bed to cover me when i sleep. And i have been throwing them in the dryer on hot. There is no way in heck i can give the cat a bath (she'd never let me). When you sprayed your apt with the PreCor, do you have to take the cat out of the house - or just put her in the bathroom? I ask this b/c i have no where to take the cat (am not taking her back to the vet for boarding - which is how i think i inherited this new mess to begin with).
best of luck & thanks......
Strange / scary news..... i gave the cat the CapStar this morning..... was there with her watching closely for two hours..... NOTHING. I did not see one flea or anything fall off the cat.
Now i'm baffled...... and nervous.
Last night i took a new microfiber dry dust mop and dusted the entire wood floors, wall to wall in both room - with Diatanaceous Earth....
Could i have just had a few fleas, that had bitten me a few times and then died when i flooded the chair with D Earth the past week or two? But i have not seen any dead fleas..... or dead anything.
My guess is that it would be difficult at best to see dead fleas fall off your cat.
But i have heard other people who have used the Capstar pill - that within 30 minutes they saw fleas dying / falling off their cat..... that's what happens. it kills them then they are dying and fall off - some say they saw tons. (i saw nothing).
Well, if there's lots of fleas it's easier to see them.
Your experience sounds almost alike to mine and mine was fleas. To counter a point you said earlier, fleas do go for the torso. Especially if they have gotten into your clothes or bedding. They particularly like to burrow into waistlines. I had tons of huge welts around where my pants sit and also on the top of my thighs. I had been away and stayed in a Youth Hostel 2 weeks before I started getting bitten and was so positive I had brought bedbugs home with me. I didn't get bitten in the early morning hours though as bedbugs seem to, I was just before I went to sleep or afternoon. The way I confirmed was turning my pajama pants inside out straight after and catching a jumping flea. That was on my hip. Pretty sure you are the same and have fleas, not bedbugs. The huge welts and itchiness is due to me having an allergic reaction to the bites and a mega histamine response. VERY itchy for 4-5 days and scars only fading now 2 months on. So similar to bedbug bites but not!
Fleas don't burrow into your waistline, but I think your reference is to the clothing waistline where they could push themselves into creases and folds.
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