Help! No Signs of Bed Bugs, but I Have Bites

Are you getting bitten at night but don’t see any signs of bed bugs? Well, you are not alone; this happens to many people. We will review what bed bug bites can look like and what the reaction spectrum means.

First, Let’s discuss what a bed bug bite looks like. The bites can look like small red bumps, a rash, or big welts.

It’s imperative to realize that you cannot diagnose bed bugs based on the bite alone.

They may form in clusters and even resemble mosquito bites as well. However, some people don’t react to bed bug bites, and many other insects can cause similar reactions, such as fleas, mosquitoes, mites, chiggers, body lice, and spiders.

It’s important to realize that if you woke up with bites all over (out of nowhere) but don’t see any bugs, they may not be bed bugs.

You can also hire a local bed bug inspection service; our company, Doctor Sniffs, specializes in pest inspections throughout the greater NYC area.

What is Biting ME at Night?

Many things may be biting you at night. We will cover top contenders for something that can bite you at night.

First learn what a bed bug looks like so you can rule it in or out.

No Signs of Bed Bugs, but I Have Bites


One of the main culprits of nighttime bites is mosquitoes. A mosquito can slip through a tiny space if you have an air conditioning unit in your window.

Often during the spring and summer months, we find a few mosquitos in the apartment where the client got nighttime bites.

Can mosquitoes bite through clothes? Yes, but bed bugs cannot. So if you have a lot of bites underneath clothes, then perhaps it’s not bed bugs.

Body Lice

Another bug that can bite at night is body lice. You can easily pick up body lice if you recently sat in a public place. Learn more about the differences between bed bugs vs lice here. 

Body lice will live in your clothing, sheets, and pajamas. Then they travel onto your skin to bite you, then retreat to your clothing.

It’s imperative to wash and dry your clothing in hot temperatures to kill the lice.

Hippoboscid Fly

Recently one of our clients had been getting what they thought were bed bug bites, during our inspection we did not see any tell-tale signs of bed bugs. Lo and behold we saw one of these flies sitting up high on the wall.

The Hippoboscid fly, also known as louse flies, keds, or flat flies, are insects of the family Hippoboscidae within the order Diptera. These flies are dorso-ventrally flat, with long (6.5–7.5 mm) wings , and are obligate blood-sucking ectoparasites of animals.

Keep in mind that they infest many songbirds, raptors, and pigeons, so if you have any birds nesting near your windows, you’ll want to look for one of these parasitic flies. The Hippoboscid fly can bite at night leaving you with itchy “bed bug like” reactions. According to Dr Jan Šlapeta they can readily attack humans.


Mites are another typical bug that can bite you at night and cause a rash-like reaction.

Bird Mites and Rodent Mites

Mites, bird mites, and rodent mites are usually found on or near animals. However, they can go after people if an infested animal or nest is in or near the home.

Mites will crawl onto your skin and feed off your blood.

If you see a bird’s nest outside your windows, the bird mites may be coming in and feeding off your blood while you sleep.


Chiggers are the larvae of tiny red mites in the arachnid family that thrive in warm and humid areas. Despite their small size, chiggers can create quite a bit of misery for unsuspecting outdoors enthusiasts. 

These parasites feed exclusively on the skin of vertebrates such as humans, but although chiggers may attach themselves to people’s skin, they do not drink the blood like bed bugs.

That said, chigger bites can feel very much like an insect bite due to the intense itching that occurs from chigger saliva injected into the skin during feeding.

Chiggers in bed are not usually a concern since they live on your skin and then fall off into the soil to finish their life cycle.

Dust Mites

Dust mites do not cause bites in humans but can cause allergic reactions in some people. These allergic reactions can look like bed bug bites in some highly allergic individuals.

It’s essential to check with your doctor if you think you have an allergy to dust mites. We wrote an entire article on how to get rid of dust mites. It goes over the easiest ways to remove them from your home.


How do scabies bite? Scabies, or scabies mites, are microscopic and burrow under the skin, laying their eggs. The scabies mite burrows into the surface of your skin. Then creating tunnels for to move around and feed on the skin cells of its host.

This process can be painful and highly irritating due to its itchiness; not only that, but they are highly contagious. Scabies usually produces a highly itchy red rash that looks like trails or lines.

As always, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional if you believe you may be at risk of scabies. If you have bites and are unsure if its scabies or bed bugs, check out our article on Scabies vs Bed Bugs: A Quick Guide


Spiders can bite at night and cause a raised, itchy skin rash. Most spider bites are non-venomous and will resolve independently without requiring medical attention.

That said, if you have any concerns about the bite, then speak to your doctor immediately. If you are sleeping in an area with many spiders, you may experience a bite at night if they get disturbed.

Remember that a spider will usually only bite once and won’t turn into multiple bites over time.

Carpet Beetle Larvae

Although these larvae are not biting us, they can cause bed bug-like reactions. They have tiny hairs all over their body that can make us itch and have a rash-like reaction.

If you see these larvae on your bed or furniture, consult an experienced exterminator to help you get rid of them correctly. Often all you need is a professional steam treatment to eradicate them.

We have an entire article dedicated to teaching you the differences between bed bugs and carpet beetles.


Fleas are another pest that bites and can often be mistaken for bed bug bites. Ask your veterinarian about the best flea preventative if you have a pet. Next, you may want to do deep cleaning if you suspect fleas.

Sand Fleas – Sand Flies

Since some species of sand fleas and sand flies leave bites can leave bites, these can often be confused with bed bug bites. If you recently went on a beach trip vacation there is a good chance you got bitten up by sand fleas or sand flies.

The thing to keep in mind is that the skin reactions will often be delayed. So you if you spent the afternoon/evening on the beach the sand fly bites may not show up until the next morning. The delayed reaction can have you thinking that it was bed bugs that bit you.

Are You Waking Up With Bites, but They Are Not Bed Bugs?

Unless you find a bug or evidence of a bug (like droppings), there is no way to know if your bites are from bed bugs.

One vital thing to consider with bed bugs is that 30% of the population does not react to their bites. Then the other 70% have a wide range of reactions. Many people get delayed reactions from bed bug bites. Learn more about how long it takes for bed bug bites to manifest.

Each person’s body reacts differently to the bed bug bite. While some folks may immediately respond, others get what’s called a delayed reaction.

If the bug bites you on Monday night, your skin may show a raised bump on Friday night. Then remember that up to 30% do not react.

Signs of Bed Bugs – if You Have Bites, Then You’ll Want to Look for Evidence of Bed Bugs

Here are some of the first early signs of bed bugs.

  • Early bed bug stains on sheets. You’ll want to look for black ink-like stains. These will look similar to a pen mark and will not come out in the wash. They will fade to a greyish color after multiple washes.

  • Bed bug nymphs on or around your bed. A bed bug nymph is a smaller version of an adult bed bug. Check out our pictures of baby bed bugs for more guidance.

  • It’s important to realize that bed bugs do not bite every night. Find out more in our article: “how often do bed bugs bite?” If you are the type of person who reacts to bed bug bites, your skin will begin to appear, showing bite marks.

  • A bite mark can range from a small red dot to a big itchy welt. Plus, there is a whole spectrum of skin manifestations in between.

If you are still determining if the bug bite is from a bed bug or another pest, take pictures of the bites and save them for your records. These are important if you finally catch what type of bug is biting you.

  • You may see a bed bug shell (aka: bed bug casing) on or around your bed. The shells will look similar in shape to the actual bug, but they will be a light straw color. Look in all the seams and crevices on your bed frame, mattress, headboard, and furniture.

  • Reddish brown bugs along the creases and crevices of your bed frame, headboard, mattress, or furniture.

Take some photos of the bugs and get a proper ID, because many times people find carpet beetle larvae and spider beetles on their bed and they think it’s bed bugs.

Check out this article on spider beetles to learn about the differences.

Do You Have Itchy Bumps on Your Skin Like Mosquito Bites, but They Aren’t?

If you have itchy bumps on your skin, they can be bed bug bites, spider bites, allergies to carpet beetle larvae, allergies to rodent pee/poop, allergies to roach feces, spider bites, and mold allergies.

First, check all your windows to ensure the screens are intact. A mosquito can quickly come in through a small hole in a screen.

If you have itchy bumps on your skin, they may be a bed bug bite or one of the other reasons we mentioned above.

What Are Some Skin Conditions That Look Like Bed Bug Bites?

So if it’s not bed bug bites, then what? You’ll want to rule out various skin conditions. Here are some things that you can mistake for bed bug bites:

  • A heat rash can sometimes cause itchy welts that appear like bed bug bites.
  • Dry skin can also cause raised bumps that you may mistake for a bed bug bite.

  • Folliculitis is a skin condition that can cause red itchy bumps.
  • Allergic reactions to foods, dust mites, or pollen can cause raised welts on your skin that look like bed bug bites.
  • Eczema can cause rashes that you may mistake for insect bites.

  • An encounter with Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes hot tub rash. You can unknowingly sit in a hot tub that is infested with bacteria.
  • Contact dermatitis.

  • Hives are an allergic reaction that can cause raised, itchy bumps on the skin.
  • Certain types of infections, such as staph, can also cause red itchy bumps on the skin that may look like bed bug bites.

Can Bed Bug Bites Be on Your Finger?

Yes, absolutely. Since fingers are not usually covered by clothing, it is easy for a bed bug to access your hand. The bugs are happy if they can pierce the skin and take a blood meal.

Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like Pimples?

There is a wide range of reactions to bed bug bites. Some people do not react at all, while others get itchy welts that can look like pimples. The best way to determine if a bump is from a bed bug bite or something else is by catching a bed bug. You can start by setting out traps to see what kind of pest activity is in the area. If you wake up with bumps on your skin, it’s best to take a closer look and see the real problem.

Final Thoughts on “No Signs of Bed Bugs but I Have Bites”

In conclusion, don’t let the frustration of not seeing any bed bugs get in the way of you figuring out what your bites are from. Remember, bed bug bites look different on everyone and can range from little red dots to itchy welts.

Make sure to try to catch a bug before you come to any conclusions. Lastly, always keep an eye out for reddish-brown bed bugs.

Further Reading and More Helpful Articles on Insects (Bed Bugs, Fleas, Lice and Mosquitoes)

Lice vs flea
bed bug size
can mosquitoes bite through clothes?