Bed bug or flea?
November 3, 2010 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Is this a bed bug or a flea? Or something else?

Here's another photo from a different angle.

By way of background: I've been experiencing insect bites of some kind off-and-on for the last couple of weeks--maybe an average of one itchy bite every few days, usually overnight. I live in New York, so my first thought was bed bugs, but I've searched meticulously over every inch of my bedroom and haven't seen any of the tell-tale markers (although I know that in itself is not necessarily proof of anything).

Yesterday, though, I found this bug in my bathroom and took those photos. It's similar in size and color to a bed bug, but I've looked at every photo of bed bugs I can find online, and they don't look the same to me. I also found these pictures of fleas, which I think look more like the bug I found (same body shape and legs-to-body ratio).

Last piece of evidence--my bedroom and bathroom have windows that open out to the same ledge (they're adjacent rooms), and I have seen a lot of pigeons out there since I moved in. So that seems to support the flea theory, but I don't know enough to be sure.

I'm trying to remain unbiased and finding it difficult, so please help me out here. I still have the bug and can take some more photos, if that would be useful.
posted by albrecht to Science & Nature (13 answers total)
Not a bedbug! Don't know what it is (a beetle of some kind?), but mos def not a bedbug. you can set your mind at ease on that front.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:54 AM on November 3, 2010

Looks like a tick to me.
posted by Floydd at 8:57 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's a spider beetle. It's not who's been biting you, though, because as I understand it, they're not parasites.
posted by Sarah Jane at 8:58 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of course, I should mention that I have no reason to believe this is the bug that's been biting me, and this not being a bed bug doesn't preclude the possibility that I do have bed bugs. But if it were some kind of biting flea, at least that would be a competing theory.
posted by albrecht at 8:58 AM on November 3, 2010

Oh my god. OH MY GOD. I don't know what that is, but it looks exactly like this bug that attacked me IN MY EAR when I was 8, causing me to claw the side of my head off until it came rolling out. OF MY EAR.

I have no idea what it is (I'm not sure if I even want to know), but don't let your ears anywhere near it.

For what it's worth, it didn't try to bite me. It just...burrowed. Yeeechhh.
posted by phunniemee at 9:02 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I see these occasionally in my house, I always FREAK OUT thinking they're bedbugs, but they really really aren't. Not fleas either, and not ticks. I think Sarah Jane is right on with the spider beetle diagnosis.
posted by hermitosis at 9:06 AM on November 3, 2010

Also the recent Indian Summer weather in NYC led to a final mosquito crop hatching. I've been getting bites myself, because I started leaving my windows open at night after I figured the cold had killed them all off.
posted by hermitosis at 9:09 AM on November 3, 2010

Definitely not a bedbug and probably not a flea (the photos you provide make the carapace look quite smooth and shiny, which is not something I have ever seen on a flea). Beyond that, I am at a loss. I know little of spider beetles, but judging from the photos, that seems the best bid so far.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:17 AM on November 3, 2010

Looks like a tick that just finished gorging.
posted by Lynsey at 9:18 AM on November 3, 2010

I've been getting bites myself, because I started leaving my windows open at night after I figured the cold had killed them all off.

Oh thank god. I thought it was just me.
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely not a flea. I'm excruciatingly familiar with them. My old apt was infested with them. I discovered this after my cat left and they started looking for alternative foodstuffs. I had nightmares for months even after bugbombing everything I owned 3-4 times.

You lucked out.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:39 AM on November 3, 2010

As someone who has been fighting them in my yard and on my dogs for 15 years - That is absolutely not a tick. For god's sake, it has antennae.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:06 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not a bedbug or a flea. I have seen both in the terrible flesh, more often than I wish I had. I have no idea what it is, although it certainly looks like a tiny mutant octopus. You can probably rule cephalopods out, though.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:29 PM on November 3, 2010

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