• Skin with bite marks
  • Skin showing flea bites
  • Skin with bite marks
  • Skin showing flea bites

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Bite Marks

It can be difficult to identify the culprit just from 'bite' marks.


Bites tend to form similar sorts of localised reddening and swelling because the marks are caused by our immune systems reacting to foreign substances; whether proteins in the anti-coagulants and anaesthetics that blood sucking insect inject or just the physical damage caused by the bite.

Bed bugs, fleas, mosquitoes, sand flies, spiders, dust mites, scabies mite and other pests can bite and sometimes allergic reactions to other things in our environment are mistaken for insect bites.


How to Identify the Cause of Bite Marks

In general it can be very difficult to identify the culprit just from the 'bite' marks. There are however some indications that can help to identify what pests, if any, might be responsible.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed Bugs often give several bites in a straight line. (How to control bed bugs)

Flea Bites

Fleas tend to feed at ankles, lower legs, wrists and torso. (How to control fleas)

Spider Bites

Spider bites involving venom usually cause pain prior to inflammation. If there appear to be two puncture wounds at a bite site this may indicate a spider is the culprit; spiders use two fangs to bite and inject their venom. (How to control spiders)

Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes are well known for their biting habits. Mosquitoes are blood sucking flying insects and in tropical areas they frequently carry and transmit serious diseases including malaria, dengue fever, and others. In New Zealand mozzies rarely carry disease but there is concern that if the world warms up due to global warming, northern parts of New Zealand would be vulnerable to disease carrying mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, as with other blood sucking pests, inject anaesthetic and anti-cogulant when they suck blood. It is the proteins in these that cause allergic reactions in some people. Causing reddened raised itchy lumps at the bite site. It can be difficult to tell if the bite was caused by mosquitoes another biting insect. (How to control mosquitoes)

In general mosquitoes bite at dusk or and attack exposed skin areas where blood is close to the surface; neck, arms, ankles, and legs.

Other Marks

With insect or spider bites a puncture wound is usually visible and often includes the release of a small amount of blood. If no puncture wound is found it is possible that a red mark and swelling is due to some other skin reaction or damage to the skin caused by some other physical injury.

There are also many 'bugs', diseases and reactions to environmental factors that can cause reactions sililar to those caused by biting insects.

Did you know

Just talking about fleas or bed bugs commonly makes people feel itchy and scratch the skin in response. Scratching can cause reddening and inflammation that can be mistaken for bites. It is therefore not easy for medics or pest experts to identify red marks as bites never mind being able to identify the possible culprit.

Dust, chemicals (natural or synthetic) and others can cause allergic reactions that include raised red itchy marks and these can be mistaken for insect bites. The waste products of the house dust mite is frequently the cause of allergic reactions of the skin as well as asthma.

However, if bed bugs, fleas, white-tail spiders, mosquitoes or other biting insects are found, then appropriate treatment to eradicate the pests can reduce the risk of bites.


Download technical sheets on control of biting insects.

Adobe Acrobat Document1-2-3 Bed Bug Control Programme Technical Sheet
Adobe Acrobat Document, 563 KB
1-2-3 Bed Bug Control Programme Technical Sheet

Adobe Acrobat Document1-2-3 Flea Control Programme Technical Sheet
Adobe Acrobat Document, 763 KB
Kiwicare 1-2-3 Flea Control technical Sheet. All you need to learn to get rid of pest fleas and keep them out of your home.

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