Bed bugs or rat mites?

Question: Several months ago we found rat droppings in one of our crawl spaces. We had pest guys come out, and they closed up a few possible entry points in our roof. I don’t know how long the droppings were there, or when the rats came through. In the summer we occasionally get bitten, and then it seems to stop during the colder months. This year we are bitten a lot. We have found and identified rat fleas in our house (mostly catching them in our bed), which could definitely be the source of our bites.

However, I’m wondering if we could also have rat mites? If so, do they tend to die and not be a problem with the rats not here, or will we need to have the house treated to kill them? Also how do we tell if we have rat mites?

Answer: According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the one type of rodent mite that will readily bite people is the tropical rat mite (Ornythonyssus bacoti). Other types of rodent mites that will bite people are the house mouse mite (Liponyssoides sanguineus) and the spiny rat mite (Laelaps echidnina). If you suspect that you may be suffering from these very tiny insect bites, you need to seek medical assistance, as they are a public health issue. Structural pest control specialists will not be able to assist you in this issue; a trained doctor is what you should seek out.

This being said, you could have bed bugs—and not rat mites. In some regions of the country the frequency of bed bugs has been increasing. While they are a nuisance and deliver some painful bites, bed bugs can be controlled with some careful cleaning and a little insecticide.

These small, reddish-brown insects hide during the day and emerge at night to take a blood meal from people sleeping. They will also bite other mammals. Bed bugs take 3 to 15 minutes to feed, and may not feed again for two to three days. The bite produces a hard swelling and is whitish in color; it usually is irritated and continues to bleed. It may turn into an itchy rash in a day or so.

Check to see that there are no new or recently abandoned bird nests close to the room (check the attic). There are ”cousins” to bed bugs that live in these nests (or are associated with bats) and can move from there to feeding on people.

If in doubt, contact Orkin to conduct a thorough inspection of your home to make sure you do not have a bed bug infestation, and, if you do, develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Bed Bug in Hand Palm

Here is more information on getting rid of bed bugs.

Related Questions

Orkin used the information above to also answer the following questions submitted by Orkin.com users:

Question: What are rat mites? Do they bite? I have 10 bites on my body after sleeping on the couch.

Answer: You may have bed bugs. In some regions of the country the frequency of bed bugs has been increasing. While they are a nuisance and deliver some painful bites, bed bugs can be controlled with some careful cleaning and a little insecticide. Check to see that there are no new or recently abandoned bird nests close to the room (check the attic). There are ”cousins” to bed bugs that live in these nests (or are associated with bats) and can move from there to feeding on people.

Question: I have no signs of bed bugs but have heard of rat mites. What are rat mites?

Answer: Rat mites will leave the host or the nesting site once the host dies or abandons the nest. If the nest is in close proximity to humans, the possibility of being bitten is greater.

Ask Orkin

Get More Answers from Orkin

How much is the cost of an exterminator?

Q

How much is the typical cost of an exterminator?

How Long Does it Take for Roaches to Die After Treatment

Q

How long after an exterminator performs a service should it take for cockroaches to die off completely?

Can Bed Bugs Jump or Fly? | How do Bed Bugs Travel?

How to Control Ladybugs and Larvae Infestations

Q

Does your company offer a solution for getting rid of ladybugs?

What Do Bed Bugs and Eggs Look Like on Clothes?

Q

What do I do with the clothes?

How Long Does Ant Bait Take to Get Rid of Ants?

Q

Since my initial Orkin service one week ago, my ant problem has gotten worse. The ants are in the kitchen now, where initially they were not. What can be done to keep the ants at bay while waiting for extra service?

How do I know if I have a termite swarm?

Q

How do I know if I have a termite swarm?

Are there over-the-counter treatments for bed bugs?

Q

What over-the-counter treatment I can buy to prevent and get rid of bugs?

What are easy bug costumes to DIY?

Q

What are easy bug costumes to DIY?

Will spraying for spiders in the basement be harmful to humans?

Q

Our granddaughter who will be living with us wants to have her bedroom in the basement, but we have spiders. If you come to spray for them will the chemicals be harmful to her?

Connect with Us

Our customer care team is available for you 24 hours a day.

877-819-5061

Find a Branch

Our local Pros are the pest experts in your area.

Get a Personalized Quote

We will help you find the right treatment plan for your home.

THE BEST IN PESTS.™

SERVICES

Pest ControlTermite ControlPrevent and Protect

PEST LIBRARY

Browse All Pests

© 2022 Orkin LLC

Terms of UsePrivacyAccessibility StatementCareers