One of the main reasons bed bugs are so resilient is that people usually find out about them too late in their development cycle. It is because bed bug bites are very similar in their size, shape, and level of irritation to the bites of a lot of other insect pests. So, it’s not uncommon for people to start noticing bites in the morning but to ignore them because they look too similar to mosquito bites. Especially in the summer months, when people are used to be bitten by annoying insects, a bed bug presence often remains unchecked until it spreads into proportions that are much harder to deal with.
Another reason bed bugs are so often ignored is that a lot of people know that they don’t really carry disease. Unlike mosquitoes and fleas, the main way how bed bugs endanger us is by causing an allergic reaction or a skin infection. So, even if they realize they are dealing with bed bugs, a lot of people foolishly let little buggers run wild, postponing the necessary treatment because they don’t see it as that urgent.
There is, however, another reason a lot of people don’t realize they are dealing with bed bugs and that’s the fact that there are a lot of other bugs that look like bed bugs.
Bugs mistaken for bed bugs can either be more harmful than them or completely harmless. So, if you’ve ever wondered whether you are dealing with bat bugs, fleas, chiggers or those pests that are bothering you are, in fact, bed bugs, take a look at our list of bed bug lookalikes.
Which are the most common pests mistaken for bed bugs and how are they different from bed bugs?
Sources like WebMD describe bed bugs as small, brownish, thin and oval insects. An adult bed bug, just as bed bug eggs, is usually about 1 to 5 millimeters long, which coupled with its razor-thin body makes it very hard to spot. Add to that the fact that bed bugs tend to hide during the day, and the whole ordeal becomes even more annoying. So, which are the most commonly mistaken bed bug lookalikes?
Just as bed bugs, fleas, too, are wingless and small blood-suckers. Both types of insects are brown and have flat bodies, and both leave similar bite marks on our bodies. Fleas are, however, much more dangerous than bed bugs because they carry more diseases, but you generally want both types of insects gone from your home as soon as possible.
Unlike bed bugs, fleas have strong and large hind legs that they use to jump. In fact, while bed bugs can’t jump to save their lives, fleas are the second-best jumpers (relative to their size) in the whole animal kingdom. In addition, fleas and bed bugs can typically be found in different areas around the house as fleas prefer to stay attached to our hairy pets.
Not only similarly named bat bugs also look like bed bugs. They too are brown and just as small as bed bugs. They are rarer, however, as they prefer bat blood to human blood, nevertheless a bat bug will not hesitate to go for humans if it needs too.
Bat bugs can be differentiated from bed bugs by the longer hair on their bodies. Also, they are more commonly found in attics and roosts and will only come down into your living quarters if they are deprived of their food sources in the attic.
Spider beetles are similar in size and color to bed bugs as well. They are, however, not bloodsuckers as they rather prefer to forage plant-based food materials. They are nocturnal though, which, coupled with their similar size and color often causes people to mistake them for bed bugs.
The main physical difference between spider beetles and bed bugs is that the former are not flat. Aside from this visual difference, the other way to differentiate one from the other is that spider beetles are not blood-sucking animals and prefer to go after plant-based food.
Also known as dog ticks, wood ticks flat and oval-shaped, which makes them quite similar to bed bugs. They too are annoying blood-sucking parasites that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. In fact, ticks carry much more diseases than bed bugs, so it’s definitely not in your best interest to mistake them for ones.
Wood ticks, unlike bed bugs, are typically found outdoors and not indoors. Also, you are unlikely to find them in such large quantities at once as you might find bed bugs. But the major difference between the two types of bugs is that when a tick bites you it can stay attached to your body for days. As they are much more dangerous than bed bugs and transmit a lot of diseases, always deal with ticks as quickly and as carefully as possible.
Newly-hatched roaches, which are called nymphs but are often referred to simply as baby cockroaches, can also sometimes look like bed bugs. Of course, it depends on the type of cockroaches you have, as there are more than 4,000 different species on the planet. A lot of them, however, do resemble bed bugs when they are still small – they can have brown coloring, as well as oval and flat bodies.
Although recently-hatched roaches can sometimes resemble bed bugs while they are young, they can easily be told apart as they grow. If you encounter a young cockroach in your home chances are that there are plenty of adults around as well. Additionally, while bad bugs can crawl surprisingly fast, cockroaches, on average, are even more speedy in their movement.
And finally, carpet beetles, especially brown carpet beetles, are the last bed bug lookalikes on our list. They are about 3 millimeters long and they too have brownish oval bodies. They are also nocturnal, so you will be forgiven if you mistake them for bed bugs if you see them on your sheets or clothes.
Carpet beetles, unlike bed bugs, are not bloodsuckers – they consume natural animal fabrics and are able to cause a serious amount of destruction to your favorite clothes, sheets, furniture or carpets. Their bodies are also not as flat as those of bed bugs. So, while they won’t bite you, you definitely want them out of your home.