Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs
Did you know that bed bugs don’t only show up in dirty houses? That’s right. It doesn’t matter how clean you keep your home, your bedroom, and even the bed itself. Bed bug infestations can happen to anyone.
Even more alarming, cases of bed bugs are on the rise, and they are a nightmare to get rid of once they’re in your house because these pests are resistant to many poisons and insecticides.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many people to identify bed bugs. It turns out there are quite a lot of other bugs that look like bed bugs. Here’s what you need to know about what bed bugs look like versus their impersonators.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
In order to know whether you’re dealing with an actual bed bug or an imposter, you first need to know what bed bugs looks like precisely. Knowing the details of bed bug appearance can help you to recognize whether the bugs you found are true bed bugs or something else.
Why do you need to know? Different bugs need to be dealt with in different ways, so properly identifying what pest you are dealing with allows you to take the correct measures in getting rid of them.
Bed bugs are extremely small. In fact, they’re only about one-quarter of an inch long. Young bugs are of course smaller. These pests tend to be reddish-brown in color, but they can also be lighter and colored more like straw.
In addition to their size and color details, you can identify bed bugs by their shape. They are shaped like flat ovals and look kind of like an apple seed. Like all insects, bed bugs have six legs and antennae. Bed bugs don't jump, so their hind legs are the same size as the rest, unlike fleas.
The back of their bodies may end in a rounded section or a sharp flap, depending on the sex of the particular individual. Females have the curved back, and males have the pointy back. Finally, all bed bugs have protruding eyes.
Bugs Mistaken For Bed Bugs
People can get really upset when they find out they have bed bugs. These pests live on blood they suck from humans and animals, and they can leave itchy welts where they’ve bitten someone.
One woman even burned down her own home accidentally because she discovered an infestation.
It makes sense then before you attempt to treat an infestation that you make sure you’re not dealing with something else. Here are the bugs most often mistaken for bed bugs.
Nymphs are infant insects, and cockroach nymphs look nothing like adult roaches. This surprises many people, who do not realize that what they are seeing in their home are baby cockroaches.
A cockroach nymph is usually white or gray in color with a smooth body. It is smaller than an adult bed bug, usually around three millimeters in size.
Cockroach nymphs do not bite.
Carpet beetles tend to be smaller than bed bugs and differently colored. They can be black and yellow, solid brown, solid black, or have brown, orange, and white scales. People mistake them for bed bugs because they appear in teems and enjoy hiding in some of the same places.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of carpet beetles, in comparison to bed bugs, is that the beetles have wings. You will not see bed bugs flying. Carpet beetles also do not have protruding eyes, which distinguishes them from bed bugs. You probably will not be able to easily see a carpet beetle’s eyes.
Carpet beetles do not bite.
Booklice can look similar to bed bug nymphs (that is, young bed bugs). A primary difference, however, is that booklice have longer bodies. Their midsection is narrow with a wider head and lower abdomen. They will definitely look smaller than adult bed bugs and are lighter in color. Some booklice have wings, but not all of them.
Booklice do not bite.
Spider beetles look kind of like tiny spiders, thus the name. They are easily mistaken for bed bugs because many of them have a similar, reddish-brown coloring, though others are black. In fact, of all the bugs listed here, spider beetles are probably the most similar in appearance to bed bugs, with the exception of bat bugs.
These beetles do tend to be a bit smaller than bed bugs, but if you’ve never seen either species, it could be difficult to distinguish the size difference.
Spider beetles do not bite.
Bat bugs are actually related to bed bugs. They are also small, flat, and reddish-brown. In fact, without a magnifying glass, they look exactly like bed bugs.
Bat bugs also bite humans and feed on blood, just like bed bugs.
That being said, it’s less common to have a bat bug infestation that is causing welts and rashes on the skin of people than this problem is with bed bugs. That’s because a bat bug’s preferred food source is--you guessed it--bats.
You’re more likely to have a bat bug problem if you’ve had bats in your attic, and these insects are usually found in upper levels of buildings.
Best Way To Identify Bed Bugs From Look-Alikes
Obviously, the differences between bed bugs and look-alike bugs can be difficult to distinguish with the naked eye. That’s why so many other insects are mistaken for bed bugs in the first place. But finding the right pest treatment depends on making a correct identification first.
Here are some of the best ways to tell the difference.
Look for bites
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do in determining whether you have a bed bug infestation is to check yourself and others in the home for bug bites. If you have red, itchy welts or rashes, then it may be a bed bug problem.
Bed bugs tend to feed on blood while you are sleeping or sitting still, but the bite marks may not appear until several hours after you’ve been bitten. Some people may also be bitten but not develop welts or a rash, making it more difficult to discover the bugs.
Take a good look at the insects
If you have actually spotted the bugs, which tend to appear together in high numbers, you can try to make a physical identification. Based on the descriptions here, rule out other possible insect infestations. You may have something that is, although considered gross, completely harmless to humans.
It’s also worth noting that bed bug bites are annoying but are not known to spread diseases.
Once you’ve ruled out other possibilities, you should still take steps to ensure that you actually have bed bugs before trying bed bug treatments. That’s because bed bugs are especially difficult to get rid of, and if there’s a possibility that you have something else, you may not need to take such drastic measures.
Note where the bugs are located
Bed bugs are going to be found hiding in places close to a food source. Since they eat blood, they will often be in the crevices of couches or chairs, and under mattresses.
As noted, look-alike bugs are usually found in other places. Bat bugs prefer attics and second floors or higher, and they’ll be found in kitchens and bathrooms.
Bugs that do not bite humans are not typically found in close quarters with humans, like beds and furniture. Instead, you’ll find them where their food source is.
Spider beetles are not common, but they eat a huge variety of different foods. They will not relegate themselves to parts of the house where human contact is likely. In fact, they prefer to hide and eat things in pantries or where rodent droppings are found.
Carpet beetles may enjoy anything made from natural fabrics or upholstery that holds hair and pollen, which means they may be in bedding, furniture, or clothing. Booklice enjoy fungus and mold, and you may find them on decaying food matter or in book bindings, which is where they get the name.
Cockroach nymphs tend to stay in one area--the place where they hatched--until they are able to find their own food sources. You’ll likely find them in cracks and crevices in kitchens and bathrooms.
Check your bedding and furniture for stains
Bed bugs can leave behind small blood stains after feeding, if they get crushed. They also leave behind waste, which can be seen on sheets and furniture coverings.
Send a sample to an entomologist
Entomologists are a type of scientist, specifically insect experts. You can send a specimen of one of the bugs in your house to an entomologist, and they can make a definite determination for you of whether the pest you have is a bed bug.
Bring in a pest control expert
Pest control experts can also aid you in making an appropriate pest identification. They’ll also be the best source for determining a treatment plan if you do have bed bugs.
Bed bugs are no fun. No one wants to be wondering whether the tiny things crawling around their house are going to feast on their blood or not. Know the obvious differences between bed bugs and bugs that look like bed bugs, and then follow the advice here to make certain of what you are dealing with.
Knowing the pest you have means you can treat the infestation quicker and more effectively.
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