By Perry Benani

You recently noticed bugs that look like bed bugs in your home, and are concerned about an infestation. What do bed bugs look like? Do bed bugs have wings, and do bed bugs fly? Maybe you mistaken bugs that look like bed bugs.

Or you may have found bites on your body, thought that they are bed bug bites that look like bed bugs but aren’t.

The number one rule to correctly control and remove infestation is to identify what type of bug or pest you are dealing with. 

How bed bugs look depends on where they are in their lifecycle, whether they are fed or unfed. The adult ones are typically oval-shaped, brown and about ¼-inch long. Check the following photos.

bed bug pictures

If you have bites on your skin, generally in groups of three you may be experiencing bed bug infestation.

You can also do a detailed check of your mattress, bedding, headboard to see if you can spot the presence of bed bugs: droppings, blood stains, eggs.

If you observe any signs of bedbugs, check this guide for step by step guide to remove bed bugs.

If you’re not sure whether you have a bedbug problem, found bugs that look like bed bugs or are dealing with a different pest, the following article will help you.

1. Bat Bugs

Bat bugs and bed bugs are very similar in how they look, so they are probably the most confused ones. They are flat insects that are oval in shape, can easily hide in tight spaces like cracks.

bed bug vs bat bug

They are transparent and have a beige color when unfed, but they will turn dark brown after a blood meal from a bat or rarely from a human. Typically, they choose bats as their hosts.

Bat bugs generally hide in cracks near where the bats sleep, just like bed bugs hide in places where humans use most like mattresses.

Bat bugs and bed bugs can easily be mistaken for each other because they share many similarities. This is why only a trained professional would be able to differentiate them properly. They are very similar in terms of body shape and color, so they are very similar to naked eye.

One difference between bat bugs and bed bugs is where they prefer to live. Bed bugs are especially found close to their food source, which includes mattresses, headboards, baseboards, couches and other popular pieces of furniture.

Bat bugs are mostly found in places near bats but they can also show up at a few other spots as well. In general though, you will find them where the bats are, such as in attics.

Bat bugs usually stay within the area close to where they find their food and may be found on ceilings and walls.

These bugs often enter a building through small holes, such as those in an attic, wall cavity, unused chimney, or any abandoned area of a building. At night, you’ll often see bat bugs waiting in cracks and crevices near where bats are roosting.

As a summary, let me list the differences between bat bugs and bed bugs:

  1. Bed bugs have longer hair, you can only see this difference with a microscope 
  2. Bed bugs feed on human blood, while bat bugs only feed on the blood of bats
  3. Bat bugs tend to stay close to their bat host and only go to other hosts when they are abandoned
  4. Bed bugs stay close to their human hosts, hiding within their preferred habitat during the day and coming out at night for a feed
  5. Bed bugs can be exterminated by altering the reproductive cycle and requiring a pest management service
  6. Eliminating bats in the home is the key to stopping bat bugs, after that, the only thing left to do is sterilize the relevant area 
  7. Sometimes bat bugs wander to find human blood , but often they only become a nuisance after the bats have been eradicated. In this case, humans are the only available food source. Bat bug bites are tiny, red welts similar to bed bug bites, they can leave you itchy and uncomfortable.

2. Cockroaches That Look Like Bed Bugs

Cockroach nymphs are often mistaken for bed bugs because of their similar coloring and their presence may be a sign of an infestation.

There are many types of cockroaches: German, American, brown-banded, and oriental species. All of them share similar characteristics; they are easy to identify because of their flattened shape with oval appearance, long antennae and long, bristly legs

bed bug vs cockroach

Cockroach’s life cycle begins with the egg. Upon emerging from the egg case,  this baby form of cockroach is known as a nymph. Newly hatched nymphs are bright white in color, brown is common for adults. Nymphs don’t have their adult roach wings, which means they could be mistaken for bed bugs.

3. Booklice

It’s sometimes hard to detect Booklice because they can be too small to see using plain human eyes. With this, we’ve outlined some ways for you to identify them.

Booklice have segmented bodies you can see an obvious head and abdomen, some of them may also have wings.

bed bug vs booklice

Booklice are either 1/32 or ½ an inch. They come in a variety of colors: white, brown or creamy yellow.

They can be identified by their six legs, antennae, and strong mouthparts. They use their mandibles to chew through moist building materials in search of food. As you may guess booklice are often found in the old book bindings, often found in areas of high humidity, they eat the starch in binding and the edges of pages.

4. Carpet Beetles Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs

Have you ever wondered if those black bugs that look like bed bugs in your home are really bed bugs? Let’s see how you can identify.

One main difference between bed bugs and carpet beetles is that bed bugs are visible at an aerial view. They have a round head with two shorter antennae protruding from the front. Bed bugs are about ½ inches long, while carpet beetles measure up at around ¼ inches.

Carpet beetles are mostly found in the garden, within the flowers, and in fabrics too, especially carpets. They can be moved inside your home when you bring in cut flowers from the garden. 

They can feed on stored foods, including pet food, and other crumbs. Adult beetles feed on flowering plants.

bed bug vs carpet beetle

Carpet beetles are not just in carpets, they  infest woolens, furs, hides, feathers, pet hair and lint, felt, and other items of animal origin, including carcasses, dead insects, and animal or wasp nests. 

Bed bugs can’t fly but Carpet Beetles can fly but only during the day. They don’t bite but they may cause asthma attacks or skin problems. 

The adult beetles are round-oval in shape and very small (less 1/8-inch long). Most carpet beetles are in different colors of brown, white, black, reddish-orange or yellow in a calico pattern.

5. Spider Beetles That Look Like Bed Bugs

Spider beetles are tiny insects that look like tiny spiders, they are around 2-4.3mm long and are light brown in color, often with patches of white hair on the wing covers. Beetles can often be confused with spiders because they both have six legs. 

They are like the beetles, but they resemble them in some ways – for instance, they have two long extensions resembling spider legs.

bed bug vs spider beetle

The body of a spider beetle is round and smooth with a carapace that looks almost like that of a real spider. There are white spots on the back of older beetles. Males have thinner, more elongated abdomens than females.

Bed Bugs usually bite in clusters because a single bedbug often bites the same area more than once during a feeding session. Bed bug bites are also commonly found on the neck, hands, face, and arms. Spiders bites are usually unintentional, and can be found anywhere on your body.

6. Ticks That Look Like Bed Bugs

There are many types of ticks and it is not easy to provide one general color and body shape to identify them. Although there are at least 15 species of ticks you are likely to encounter only 5 types: by people: brown dog tick, lone star tick, American dog tick, winter tick and deer tick.

If you have pets or spending time outdoors, you need to be aware of ticks and follow their possible progress.

bed bug vs tick

Ticks feed on human and animal blood, they do not generally  invade homes in large numbers due to their nature though this is still possible if you unwittingly bring them in. Ticks can cause serious health issues like Ehrlichiosis, Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Ticks are efficient carriers of disease as they attach to the body when sucking blood and likely go unnoticed when feeding.

If you find yourself wondering if you have ticks or bed bugs, there are several signs that can help you tell the difference between the two. 

The most obvious difference between them is rather than six legs like bed bugs, ticks are often brownish-gray and have eight striped legs. 

Ticks prefer to hide in tall grass, piles of leaves, and wooded areas outside. Ticks generally measure smaller than bed bugs and typically range from a sesame seed to as big as an apple seed. On the other hand, bed bugs can swell up in size and grow up to the size of an apple or sesame seed.

7. Fleas

Fleas are small, approximately 1/8″ long / 2.5-3 millimeters in size with females 1-2 millimeters larger than males, they are brown in color, ranging from dark to reddish brown. 

They can find their way effortlessly through the hair of their hosts since they have laterally compressed, skinny and tall body structures. Fleas have spiky, 6 long legs, this way they jump from the animal they feed and leap.

Fleas live in the fur of their host (mainly dogs and cats), so mostly brought indoors by pets. They will suck the blood of most animals and even some humans. Fleas live in the animal fur, on the other hand bed bugs crawl to the human body to feed, then crawl back to wherever they hide.

bed bug vs flea

However, fleas will take an occasional blood meal from a human too, and if you’ve experienced a flea bite, you know how itchy they can get.

One key difference between fleas and bed bugs is their body shape: bed bugs have oval body shape and adult ones have the size of an apple seed, they can not jump so they have to crawl to find a host. Fleas are smaller, flatter insects with very legs capable of jumping

If you discover your home has fleas instead they can cause skin irritation as well as respiratory symptoms, so they also require treatment.

8. Swallow Bugs

Some people often mistake swallow bugs for bed bugs. Swallow bugs target swallow birds and their nestlings to suck their blood.

Swallow bugs could make their way into your home if there are bird hosts in the building.

bed bug vs swallow bug

Unlike bed bugs, wild animal-feeding insects can’t reproduce when their hosts are not around. They may sometimes bite us but are not known to spread disease.

Adult bed bugs are about 5-7 mm in size, whereas adult swallow bugs are smaller, at 3-4 mm, the difference between swallow bugs and bed bugs is that they have visible antennae. Their back legs are also evident, Both features (back legs) are absent in bed bugs.

9. Head lice

The head lice is a parasitic pest that can be found on the eyelashes, head, eyebrows. They feed with human blood and live close to the scalp.

Adult head lice are about 2 to 3 mm in length, have six legs, and typically inhabit the head and neck. Like bed bugs, lice crawl but can’t hop or fly.

Unlike ticks and bed bugs, head lice feed on specific hosts and as such cannot be transferred, for example you can not transmit this lice to your dog.

bed bug vs head lice

A lot of people confuse head lice with bed bugs because they are about the same size, head lice don’t have wings, can’t fly and can’t jump. 

Itchy spots in the head and other parts of the body may be caused by things other than bed bugs, like head lice.

You might get confused between head lice and bed bugs, here is how to differentiate: head lices are smaller than bed bugs and have a red stripe running along their back.

10. Mites That Look Like Bed Bugs

Mites are organisms that belong to the arthropod family and there are many types of different species of mites, some of which live on animals

These creatures are similar to bed bugs and they lack wings, they’re pretty small too, around 1-2mm long and have an unsegmented body structure with eight legs. 

bed bug vs mice

Bed bug bites generally have distinct linear or zig-zag shapes, whereas mite bites are harder to pinpoint. 

Most people don’t know they have been exposed to mites until they experience the small bites on their skin, mite bites are usually harmless, but some people can react with mild swelling and some irritation.

11. Wood Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs

Wood bugs or wood ticks have wide, oval-shaped, flat body shapes, they are a reddish-brown color that sometimes has a gray or silver coloring on their body and they are about 3/16 of an inch long.

There are several differences between bed bugs and wood ticks: bed bugs have 6 legs whereas wood ticks have 8 legs, ticks are mainly found outside, while bed bugs typically invade your house, ticks spread diseases but bed bugs do not.

Many tick bites look like spider bites, those bits have clusters of red dots that are about the size of a dime.

12. Termites

Termites are another pest that can cause many problems in your home. Unlike bed bugs, termites do not feed on human blood., they feed mainly on dry wood.

Both bed bugs and termites are very small, difficult to see with the naked eye, and they both hide away as best they can from humans. 

bed bug vs termite

Termites are small insects with three divisions on their body and six legs, common drywood termites generally have brown or red bodies, Brown pathways on wood structures are sign of termites

13. Baby Bed bugs

I just wanted to include baby bed bugs in the list because knowing the difference between them can be important. The level of infestation and hence the treatment you need may change.

Can you see baby bed bugs? When baby bed bugs are born, their size is almost white, and they are 0.06 inch/1.5 mm in size, so that’s why they are very difficult to spot. Nymphs also bite and when they do, they suck the blood and their color becomes more red or brownish.

If you spot many baby bed bugs instead of adult ones, that may be the beginning of a possible infestation and removing them at this stage may be easier.

Check out this detailed article about baby bed bugs.

You can also check this article from EPA for more detailed information on pest management.

There you have it, you can now differentiate 13 bugs that look like bed bugs and take the correct action to remove them.

Please let me know if you have any questions and, I wish you bug-free life.

Thank you for reading.

Perry Benani