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In the 2018 annual bed bug report, by The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), asked questions of pest control companies from around the country. One of the questions asked was what pest were you called to initially treat that turned out to be bed bugs. The answer by 71% of the respondents was fleas. The next highest bug was cockroaches at 28%.

What does a bed bug look like?

bed bug close up

Adult Bed Bug

Bed Bugs have small flat, oval bodies that appear brown to reddish brown after they eat. Full grown bed bugs can be 4 to 5 mm long or about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs are wingless and do not fly or jump. Adults can be seen by the naked eye and like to hide in cracks and crevices. Bed bug eggs in enough quantity can be seen by the naked eye. Bed bugs are found in beds, sofas, and couches.


Adult Flea

Fleas are smaller in size being only 1-3mm long. They can still be seen with the naked eye. Fleas are wingless but do jump in comparison to a bed bug that walks. Adult fleas can be dark brown or a dark reddish brown color. They appear not to be as flat as a bed bug and appear to be very narrow side to side. It is hard to see the eggs of a flea. Fleas can be found throughout the house and your pet will usually show signs of biting or excessive scratching. Walking through a home with a high flea population you can see them jump on your legs as you walk through.

Are the treatments different for bed bugs and fleas?

The treatments are different for fleas and bed bugs. While thermal heat will kill both insects, fleas are more susceptible to a chemical only treatment. Flea treatments can take 30-45 days to work and the application is focused on areas where the fleas and eggs are.  This might be where your pet sleeps or rests.

These areas are different than where a bed bug is found. Fleas are less resistant to chemical products available and respond to the insect growth regulators. You can use a combination of products and achieve elimination. Bed bugs tend to be more resistant to chemical products and do not respond well to Insect growth regulators.

Pets must be treated in order to control fleas while for bed bugs they do not. Your yard may also need to be treated for fleas if they are found there.

If you are not sure what the bug is:

If you are sure what the bug is get a pest control professional to ID it for you. Even if you plan to try DIY treatments it is important you know what you are trying to kill. The treatments for the two pests are different and can vary widely in price. A professional flea treatment can be between $100.00 and $250.00. A bed bug treatment using heat can be between $500.00 and $2500.00.


The 2018 annual bed bug report by The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) shed light on the surprising initial pest encounters reported by pest control companies. A staggering 71% of respondents found that what was initially thought to be a flea infestation turned out to be bed bugs, surpassing cockroaches at 28%. This emphasizes the importance of accurate identification for effective pest control.

Understanding the characteristics of bed bugs and fleas is crucial. Adult bed bugs, measuring 4 to 5 mm, have small, flat bodies and hide in cracks and crevices. Fleas, smaller at 1-3mm, are wingless but jump, showcasing a dark brown or reddish-brown color. Knowing the differences is vital for proper treatment.


What does a bed bug look like?

Adult bed bugs have small, flat, oval bodies, appearing brown to reddish-brown. They are about 4 to 5 mm long, similar in size to an apple seed, and hide in cracks and crevices.

What does an adult flea look like?

Adult fleas are smaller (1-3mm) with a dark brown or reddish-brown color. They appear less flat than bed bugs and can jump, showcasing a narrow side-to-side profile.

Are treatments different for bed bugs and fleas?

Yes, treatments differ. While thermal heat can kill both, fleas are more susceptible to chemical treatments. Flea treatments take 30-45 days, focusing on areas where fleas and eggs are found. Bed bugs are less responsive to chemical products, and heat treatments are more effective.

Do pets need treatment for both bed bugs and fleas?

Fleas require pet treatment, and yard treatment may be necessary. Bed bugs do not necessitate pet treatment.

What should I do if I need clarification on the bug?

Consult a pest control professional for identification, even if attempting DIY treatments. The treatments for bed bugs and fleas differ significantly in both method and cost.

How much does professional treatment cost for fleas and bed bugs?

Professional flea treatment costs range between $100.00 and $250.00. Bed bug treatments using heat can vary between $500.00 and $2500.00, underlining the importance of accurate identification for cost-effective solutions.

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