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How To Tell Tick Bites From Mosquito Bites

a hand that might have a tick bite or a mosquito bite on it

It’s warm out and you’ve been spending time outdoors. Then, you find a red, itchy welt somewhere on your skin. Could it be a bite from a mosquito or even a tick? Since ticks can cause serious illnesses like Lyme disease, it’s important to know how to tell tick bites from mosquito bites. Of course, mosquitoes have also been known to carry diseases that can make humans sick, such as the West Nile virus and the Zika virus.

Most likely you’re dealing with a mosquito bite. simply because these pests are so common. There are well over 3,000 species of mosquito in the world, 176 of which can be found in the U.S. alone! Different types of mosquitoes are active at different times of day. This means that during mosquito season, it can feel as if there’s never a time when these bothersome pests aren’t out in droves.

If you know which pest you’re dealing with, you’ll know what type of follow-up precautions to take, if any. Fortunately, there are ways to tell the two types of bites apart, so you can be informed.


For most people, mosquito bites show up as small, pinkish-red welts on the skin that may be circular or oval-shaped. A mosquito bite might itch a little for a short time, or it might itch a lot and for quite a while. Some people have stronger allergic reactions to mosquito bites, so their welts might be large and swollen. Also, bites may be red all over or red around the edges but paler in the center of the welt.

Tick bites look very distinct from mosquito bites. For one, ticks often stay attached to their host for several days at a time. So, one easy sign that you have a tick bite is if you can see the tick itself attached to your skin. While some people may not experience any reactions to tick bites, others might have a small red lump on their skin. This lump may become swollen, itchy or turn into a blister.

If the bite came from a tick carrying Lyme disease, the bite may look like a bullseye, with a red center surrounded by a pale circle and a larger red circle. A large rash may also develop surrounding the bite area that grows to several inches wide. This rash may cause itching after a few days, but usually, tick bites don’t itch the way mosquito bites do. If you spend time outdoors and then have itchy bites, they’re more likely to be mosquito bites than tick bites.

Number of Bites

Another difference between mosquito and tick bites is the number of bites you have. Mosquitoes often fly together in groups, and a single mosquito might also bite the same person several times. This is why most people get several mosquito bites, or a whole lot of them, not just one. Ticks, on the other hand, bite a person and hold on until they drop off or are pulled off. They don’t travel in packs or bite someone more than once. Although it is possible to get bites from two or more different ticks, if you’ve spent time in a heavily tick-infested area.

Location of Bites

Mosquitoes typically bite wherever they can get easy access to our blood. While mosquitoes can bite through some clothes, they are more likely to go to an area that is exposed. Most people get mosquito bites on their arms, legs, feet and ankles.

On the other hand, ticks will travel to a warm, damp, out-of-sight spot to bite you. Ticks often bite people on their armpits, groin or hairline. Ticks usually stay attached, continuously sucking blood, until they release or are forced to release.

What To Do if You Find a Tick on You

If you find a tick attached to your body, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. This is because the amount of time a tick is attached and feeding matters in relation to the possible illness or infection it might cause.

How long the tick stays attached depends on a few things:

  • what species of tick it is,
  • what stage of its life cycle it’s in and
  • whether or not you do a full-body tick check to make sure you don’t have any attached to your body.

If they go undetected, young tick larvae and nymphs might hold on and feed for several days, while adult ticks can hold on for a week or longer, feeding all the while. This is why it’s a very good idea to check your whole body for ticks if you have been in an area that is known for these pests.

To remove a tick, use tweezers to pinch it off at the mouthparts, as close to your skin as possible. Don’t yank; pull slowly and steadily, gripping the tweezers firmly to ease its head and mouthparts out of your skin. Try not to squish the tick itself, if you can avoid it.

After removing the tick, you may want to place it into a small jar or Ziplock bag, so you can have it tested for pathogens if needed. You should wash the bite site with soap and water and then apply rubbing alcohol with a cotton ball. Keep an eye on it for at least two weeks so you’ll know if a rash, a bullseye pattern or any other reaction or symptoms develop. It’s also a smart idea to call your doctor to see if you need any other follow-up care.

How To Prevent Tick Bites and Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes are attracted to heat and carbon dioxide rising off people’s skin, and will bite wherever the skin is exposed. This is why it’s a smart idea to wear long pants and long sleeves when you’re spending time outside, even if it’s hot out. The more of your skin that is covered, the less vulnerable you’ll be to mosquito bites.

Wearing long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes outdoors will also help protect you from tick bites, but even covering yourself well isn’t foolproof. Many people pick up ticks unknowingly while hiking through tall grasses because these pests cling to grass blades, waiting opportunistically for someone to pass by. When the moment is right, the tick transfers to its new host.

Tick bites can be very serious, and mosquito bites can be a serious annoyance. If your yard is harboring either one of these biting pests, it’s a good idea to have the area treated by a pest control specialist. Mosquitoes can be very tough to control on your own, especially if you live in a place that experiences warm, humid or rainy spring and summer seasons. Mosquitoes thrive on warmth and moisture, and they reproduce incredibly quickly. A pest control professional can devise the most thorough and efficient way to deal with your pest problem.

One question people often find themselves asking after getting bitten by a mosquito, is why do these bites itch so much?

a mosquito biting someone

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

For many people, mosquito bites cause big, red, itchy welts. So why do mosquito bites itch? Does the itching come from the bite itself, or is it from your body’s reaction to the bite? To answer this question, first you need to understand that mosquitoes don’t technically bite people. They actually have a sharp, straw-like mouthpiece called a proboscis that they use to suck human blood through a tiny slit they make in the skin.

Almost as soon as a mosquito “bites” you, your body’s immune response leaps into action. As the mosquito feeds on your blood, it injects its saliva into the bite site. This saliva contains proteins that set off an allergic reaction within your body. When your body senses a foreign invader like mosquito saliva (or pollen or some other allergen), it sends out histamines. These histamines cause swelling, inflammation and itchiness at the site of the mosquito bite.

This is why taking an antihistamine can help reduce itchiness from mosquito bites. Most people aren’t too bothered by mosquito bites, but if you are among those people who experience intense, long-lasting itchiness from these bites, you might try taking an antihistamine. Applying a hot compress to the bites can also help reduce the swelling, inflammation and itching.

If mosquitoes are a big problem around your home or yard, it’s also a good idea to seek a longer-term solution to the issue. A specialist can treat your yard for mosquitoes and recommend steps you can take on your own to keep these pests away.

cleaning supplies

Will a Dish Soap Mosquito Trap Work?

If you’ve heard of using a dish soap mosquito trap to get rid of mosquitoes indoors, you may be curious whether it works. It is true that mosquitoes breed in water, and adding dish soap to water breaks the surface tension. This means the mosquitoes (and their larvae) will sink and drown. Furthermore, dish soap mosquito traps are very simple to make. Fill a container with some water, add some dish soap and wait. You might also set up a lamp over the container, since some people say the light will attract more mosquitoes.

The problem with these traps is that they only kill off some mosquitoes. Typically, this is not an efficient way to deal with these pests. If you have a big mosquito problem, a do-it-yourself trap can’t kill enough mosquitoes to make a difference. A better approach to the problem is getting rid of anything inside your home that is attracting mosquitoes in the first place.

How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes Inside Your House

If mosquitoes are reproducing inside your home, this means they have access to water somewhere. For example, there may be standing water in your potted plants, in a sink with a leaky faucet or even in your pet’s water bowl. Mosquitoes have even been known to breed inside toilet tanks, if they can get access to them! If they aren’t reproducing indoors but they are biting and bothering you inside, that means they’re getting in somewhere from the outside.

If you’re bothered by mosquitoes inside your home, here’s what to do:

  • Check your windows, screens and exterior doors, and repair any rips, gaps or tears that might be allowing mosquitoes inside.
  • Dump out any standing water from houseplants, and take care not to overwater your plants.
  • Dump out and refill your pet’s water bowl every day.
  • Repair any leaky faucets or pipes that might lead to moisture that attracts mosquitoes.
  • Hire a licensed, reputable pest control specialist to treat your property. These professionals have the knowledge, strategies and products needed to stop mosquitoes at all stages of their life cycles. They can also recommend ways that you can reduce mosquito populations on your own.

ABC Can Treat and Prevent Biting Pests on Your Property

No one wants to deal with bites from pests, whether it’s a mosquito bite, tick bite or something else entirely. ABC Home & Commercial Services creates custom pest control plans, so you and your family can feel comfortable. We know how to target these pests throughout their life cycle, so you’ll experience long-term relief.

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