Which Bugs Look like Bed Bugs?

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?

Fleas

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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.

Bat bugs

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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

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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.

Wood ticks

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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.

Cockroach nymphs

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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.

Carpet beetles

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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.

5 Comments

Kathy

Both my husband and me get mosquito-like bites usually during the night along the belt-line of our pajamas or our lower body. These are elevated and itchy insect bites. I have not noticed any sign of bedbugs, and assumed they would be dust mites until reading your claim that these do not bite. Can you help with a hint of the cause and how to get rid of the problem?

    InsectCop

    Do you think it’s possible that those might be fleas? To give you any advice on how to get rid of the creature, we first would need to know what you’re dealing with. However. If those are fleas, you should read this article.

Brenda

I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and notice hive like welps on my stomach and buttock area which causes itching. During the course of the day they disappear and I no longer itch. What can that be?

    InsectCop

    Is it possible you might be allergic to the detergent or the softener used for the sheets?
    Those might be the result of insect bites, however, insect bites would normally remain itchy and visible for longer periods of time, which is why it is more likely to be an allergic reaction, something stress-induced, or some other medical condition. It would be a good idea to consult a doctor to rule out any of these options.

Biley

If you get any “bites” that blister, start to swell around it or start to travel in a solid line… it could be a strong allergic reaction to carpet beetle larvae. While neither the beetles or larvae bite, the tiny firm hairs on the larvae are a known allergen to some people. If one of those hairs pierces the skin, it can cause anything from mild rash, to pruitic rashes with welts and blisters. A hair can get in clothing, bedding, carpets, etc. If an exterminator finds no evidence of bedbugs, ask about carpet beetle larvae. If you google carpet beetle dermatitis, you’ll find a lot of stories, blogs, university articles, even a blog from the epa. One story talked about a couple in the same bed… she had welts and he never had any. She was allergic and he wasn’t. Good luck everyone.

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