Sometimes, it can be quite confusing when you see bugs that look like bed bugs, wondering what they really are. As you probably know, bed bugs are pests that infest our rooms and feed on our blood then multiply. This is why you should know how to identify the real bed bugs and other bugs that look like bed bugs. That way, you will be able to take action on time if there is actually a bed bug infestation. So below are 10 bugs that look like bed bugs; let’s see what they are.
- 1 Bug #01: Bat Bug
- 2 Bug #02: Booklice
- 3 Bug #03: Carpet Beetle
- 4 Bug #04: Chigger
- 5 Bug #05: Flea
- 6 Bug #06: Head Lice
- 7 Bug #07: Mite
- 8 Bug #08: Spider Beetle
- 9 Bug #09: Swallow Bug
- 10 Bug #10: Wood Tick
- 11 Conclusion
Bug #01: Bat Bug
This is probably one of the bugs that look like bed bugs the most; even the name is quite similar. In case you wonder, yes, these two bugs are actually relatives, but they are very different. Just like the name suggests, bat bugs feed on the blood of bats with zero interest in human blood at all. The only time that bat bugs will actually feed on human blood is when bat blood is not available. This is a rare occasion, and bat bugs cannot reproduce without host bats, so they are not interested in us.
You are likely to find bat bugs in some places at home where bats like to roost. The most common areas are attics or chimneys, but they may move to your living space if the bats are gone. That is when you may find them in your beds, mattresses, sofas, and other places that they can hide. Because bat bugs and bed bugs are very similar in color, shape, and size, it is so difficult to tell them apart. Although bat bugs do not spread any disease, their bites can cause anxiety, insomnia, and panic in sensitive individuals.
How To Eliminate Bat Bugs
- Remove bats from the attic or other parts of the house.
- Treat cracks and crevices with residual insecticides then seal them up.
Bug #02: Booklice
While having a different body shape, booklice resemble bed bugs due to their coloration and tiny size. You are likely to find booklouse crawling in areas with moisture because they love fungi and mold. Booklice and bed bugs are so different when it comes to things that they do because booklice are actually harmless. Most importantly, booklice do not feed on blood, so they will not bite humans at all. At the same time, they do not carry any disease that can threaten humans. Booklice are a nuisance because they can crawl around, which can be annoying to see.
When you have booklice at home, the common areas that you will come across them are books, fabrics, furniture, etc. In some cases, booklice also live in paintings or wallpaper paste that have mold, which is their favorite food. The only way to keep them out is to keep things in the house dry by using dehumidifiers, fans, ventilation, etc. Another thing to do is to keep debris out by regular cleaning and vacuuming. Since booklice really love paper, you want to daily or weekly clean places where you keep books.
How To Eliminate Booklice
- Dispose of all moldy items
- Apply boric acid, diatomaceous earth, or silica aerogel in cracks and crevices to dry out the area.
- Use products to control fungi and mold in the areas where booklice are common.
Bug #03: Carpet Beetle
Carpet beetles are small insects with oval-shaped bodies with a striped shell of black, orange, white, or yellow. These beetles can be pests at home if left unchecked, although they are not as harmful as bed bugs. While bed bugs feed on human blood, young carpet beetles love to eat natural fibers like leather, silk, and wool. If you have pets, these beetles also feed on pet hair as well while adult carpet beetles feed on flowers, plants, and pollen.
Some people think that carpet beetles are far from bugs that look like bed bugs, but seeing one of these is equally unpleasant. Adult carpet beetles lay more than 100 eggs at once that take between 10 days to a month to hatch. These beetles can enter your home through an open door or window as well as infested items. Bed bugs are bad because they bite us, but carpet beetles are not any better. They feed on natural fibers like our clothes, leaving holes in clothes and throws which are bad damages. Carpet beetle infestations are bad, so make sure to look out for those.
How To Eliminate Carpet Beetles
- Clean the infested areas with a nozzle vacuum cleaner, removing debris and larvae from cracks and crevices.
- If the infestation is bad, call a licensed pest control expert for a professional carpet beetles treatment for a permanent elimination.
Bug #04: Chigger
When it comes to bugs that look like bed bugs, chiggers are definitely one of those. These tiny bugs are the juvenile form of a type of mite, but they can cause itchy bites during summertime. You are more likely to find chiggers when you are outdoors like in brushy or grassy areas. Normally, chiggers inhabit moist spots like bogs, rotten logs, stumps, swamps, and more. Chiggers are so tiny, so spotting one with the naked eye is not common.
Looking like bed bugs is one thing, but having a feeding habit similar to them is another thing. Usually, chiggers like to feast on blood from hosts like birds, reptiles, rodents, and other small mammals. However, they will definitely bite people if there is a chance to feed on them. Chiggers will hitch rides on people who walk through their habitats by grabbing onto clothing or shoes. Itching from their bites usually begins within 3 to 6 hours after the initial bite, followed by some reddish bumps.
How To Eliminate Chiggers
- Sprinkle sulfur powder on areas infested by chiggers.
- Wash all the bed sheets, clothes, and other items with warm soapy water.
- Use essential oils with strong scents like eucalyptus, lavender, or lemongrass on your skin or sheets.
- To remove chiggers from your yard, check out our previous segment here: How To Get Rid Of Chiggers In The Yard
Bug #05: Flea
Fleas are not new because we know that they associate with our pet cats and dogs. However, fleas also live on other warm-blooded animals like birds and, of course, humans if the opportunities allow. Just like bed bugs, fleas are very small and wingless with brown bodies. Fleas bite skin and suck blood to survive, not just animal blood but also human blood. These bloodsucking parasites can bite you, although they don’t live on human bodies or in our hair. Not to mention that they can jump to 13 inches; fleas and bed bugs are just equally bad.
How To Eliminate Fleas
- Use a powerful vacuum on floors, mattresses, and upholsteries to remove fleas.
- Wash all beddings and use a steam cleaner at high heat settings to get rid of fleas.
- Vacuum cracks and tight areas that you suspect are the hiding areas of fleas and their eggs.
- Apply chemical treatments or contact professionals if the infestation and effects are serious.
Bug #06: Head Lice
It is true that you can easily distinguish between bed bugs and head louse, but these two look really similar. Head lice are tiny insects that feed on blood from the human scalp, causing unbearable itchiness. A head lice infestation most often affects children, and it spreads from one person to another really fast. The common signs of head lice infestation are itching, lice eggs, lice on the scalp, and soreness on the scalp.
The differences between bed bugs and head lice are the areas that they choose to bite. Bed bugs bite on your exposed skin like arms, hands, legs, neck, etc. As for head lice, they only live and feed on blood from your scalp. Head lice are also smaller than bed bugs, and they are visible on your hair when there is an infestation. The best way to get rid of head lice is going to see a medical professional. However, there are natural remedies from Safe & Sound Health that you can try; feel free to take a look.
How To Eliminate Head Lice
- Use treatments like Benzyl Alcohol Lotion, Ivermectin, Lindane, or Malathion.
Bug #07: Mite
Both bed bugs and mites are tiny creatures that can infest your home and harm your skin. While being one of the bugs that look like bed bugs, mites are actually arachnids. They are also smaller than bed bugs, so they are not visible to the naked eye at all. The most common mites that are pests and can cause undesirable symptoms in humans are dust mites and scabies mites. Dust mites live around the house, feeding on our dead skin cells that naturally fall off. As for the scabies mites, they are parasites that live under the skin and can cause extremely itchy rashes.
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid dust mites because up to 80% of homes have them. Scabies mites, on the other hand, can be transmitted through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone who has them. These mites cannot live outside the body for very long, and they live on our bodies permanently. Scabies mites burrow shallow tunnels underneath our skin where they feed and lay eggs. To treat scabies mites problem, you have to see a doctor for a prescription that you can apply regularly. Dust mites, however, can not be eradicated, so you might want to live with them.
How To Eliminate Mites
- Use allergen-proof bed covers and pillowcases.
- Control the humidity in the house and use an air purifier.
- Remove dust with a damp mop or and vacuum other items regularly.
- Weekly wash all bed covers, blankets, pillowcases, and sheets in hot water to kill dust mites and remove allergens.
Bug #08: Spider Beetle
You wouldn’t think that a spider beetle looks like a bed bug by looking at the pictures. At a glance, these two actually resemble one another due to their oval shape and their size. Spider beetles have red-brown or almost black bodies with long antennae and long legs. Some species of these spiders can actually fly, and they like to be in wooden structures where they find food. At some point, spider beetles are better than bed bugs because they do not pose health risks to us.
Spider beetles are most active at night which is also the time when they feed. Speaking of feeding, these beetles are not choosy when it comes to food. From animal skin to fruit and other edible items, spider mites can eat them all. They do not feed on blood, so they do not bite us, and they cannot harm humans. You may leave them alone if you come across one, but get rid of them if there is an infestation.
How To Eliminate Spider Beetles
- Throw away all infested food then vacuum the cabinets and pantries thoroughly.
- Use essential mint or peppermint oil spray to repel spider beetles and keep them away. Other scents like catnip, citronella, citrus, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, and tea tree also work.
Bug #09: Swallow Bug
Not different from bed bugs, swallow bugs are also one of the bugs that look like bed bugs. While the appearance is similar, there are a lot of differences between these two bugs. First of all, swallow bugs only infest the nests of swallow birds as they target the swallow birds and their nestlings. Simply put, swallow bugs feed on the blood of swallow birds, hence its name. Sometimes the infestation is so bad that the adults have to abandon their babies and nests.
Swallow bugs are so hardy, and they can go an entire year without feeding on blood. There is not a problem for them to sit and wait in the nests until new swallow birds settle in. While they can live without food, swallow bugs cannot multiply without a food source. Although rare, it is possible for swallow bugs to be around or in your house. Mainly because there are swallow birds nesting in the perimeter of your home. Without swallow birds around, you won’t have to worry about swallowing bugs at all which is a good thing.
How To Eliminate Swallow Bugs
- Remove nests of the swallow birds from the perimeter of your home.
- Treat the surrounding areas with residual insecticide to eliminate the infestation.
- In case the signs of swallow bugs do not subside, contact the professionals immediately to handle the work.
Bug #10: Wood Tick
Wood ticks, or ticks, in general, do not only resemble bed bugs but also poses dangerous health risks to humans. You are likely to come across ticks outdoors during hiking and other adventures in nature. Ticks like to be in tall grass and wooded areas, and they can cause big problems for bugs with a small size. If a tick bites you, it will probably stick around for a few days since it burrows its head into your skin. And yes, there is a good chance that you won’t even notice that there is a tick on you. Unlike bed bugs, there are quite a number of tick-transmitted diseases that are potentially life-threatening.
Because ticks can climb from one host to another, they can pick up and infect the hosts with certain pathogens. As a result, they are able to spread multiple diseases at once which is absolutely horrible. The worse part about ticks is that it is difficult to remove them once they latch onto you. This is also why you should always bring a pair of tweezers when you go camping. Besides humans, ticks also prefer dogs as hosts, which also means they may bite you if the chances are there. Make sure to regularly bathe your dogs and wash their beddings after you come back from camping outdoors.
How To Eliminate Wood Ticks
- Build fences to prevent their hosts like deer and mice from getting into your property.
- Grow tick-repelling plants such as garlic, lavender, marigolds, mint, rosemary, and sage in your gardens and lawns.
- Destroy tick habitats such as brush piles, long grasses, moist and shaded areas, and overgrown plants. Regularly mow and prune the grass so that ticks won’t have a place to hide.
Bed bugs are bad, and so are many other bugs that look like them. The good thing is that some bugs that look like bed bugs live outside instead of your houses. Hopefully, now you know how to distinguish between the real bed bugs and their look-alikes. There are many bugs out there that look like bed bugs, but the 10 above are the most common ones. Don’t forget to share your thoughts or tips if you have any; the more, the better.