7 Common Bugs Mistaken For Bed Bugs What You Need


Photo Credit: NY State IPM Program at Cornell University

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If you believe that your home has fallen victim to a bed bug infestation, it may be time to conduct some research to make sure that the little critters really are bed bugs. Unfortunately, there are plenty of bugs mistaken for bed bugs and you need to know which is which. Let?s learn today!

Table of Contents

  • Making a Difference Among Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs
  • Bugs Mistaken For Bed Bugs
    • 1. Lice
    • 2. Ticks
    • 3. Mites
    • 4. Carpet Beetles
    • 5. Fleas
    • 6. Cockroach Nymphs
    • 7. Booklice
  • In Summary: Bed Bugs and Their Look Alikes
  • FAQs Regarding Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs

Making a Difference Among Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs

Many people do not see bed bugs until after they have already started seeing other signs of infestation, such as tiny bite marks on their body. Unfortunately, bed bug bites share similar symptoms with several other types of insect bites. And there are a few other insects that look alike. Here are some common bugs mistaken for bed bugs.

Bugs Mistaken For Bed Bugs

1. Lice

Photo Credit: Gilles San Martin

If you are spending a lot of time itching and scratching, you may also notice little bumps and bite marks. Such signs can make you assume that bed bugs are the source of your discomfort.

While many people are familiar with head lice, they don?t realize that body lice and pubic lice can cause bites all over your body.

  • By comparison to bed bugs, lice are also very small in size, and typically have a red section on their backs surrounded by brown.

Without a close inspection, it is very easy to confuse the two.

Nonetheless, it is important to know which is which so that you can begin treating the bites and the infestation effectively.

2. Ticks

Photo Credit: John Tann

Ticks come in a variety of sizes and colors, but they do have a similar round shape to their bodies. Before they have fed they also appear flat. Many ticks are either completely red or brown. Their bites can cause a lot of irritation, as well as spreading disease.

  • The biggest differences between ticks and bed bugs are that ticks will burrow into your skin when they bite you.
  • This will require action on your part to remove them.
  • You must be extremely careful about how you remove the ticks to avoid leaving the tick?s head under your skin.
  • Ticks will typically stick to areas of your body where there are creases in the skin such as armpits, or around your waistline or socks.
  • They will stay attached for several days before disengaging when they have finished feeding.

3. Mites

Photo Credit: Andy Murray

Mites are tiny insects typically thought to live on rodents and other small animals. However, mites can infect humans as well, especially if their hosts have been eradicated from the area.

  • If you have recently dealt with a rodent infestation, or had another animal that was infected with mites in your home, they may have left a few mites behind.

Mites do not visually appear the same as bed bugs.

  • However, they are very small and their bites look very similar to that of bed bugs, although they are usually more painful.
  • Mites will burrow under the skin and leave raised bumps where they have bitten.
  • Unfortunately, you may not have a chance to see them in order to identify which is which.

4. Carpet Beetles

Photo Credit:
Jean-Rapha?l Guillaumin

Carpet beetles are another insect that will cause skin irritation, but not generally stick around to let you see them.

Carpet beetles themselves do not bite.

  • However, their larvae are covered with a fuzzy coat which is what causes the offending marks.
  • Most people experience some sort of allergic reaction when they come into contact with carpet beetle larvae. It is easy, in this case, to assume that they experienced bed bugs bites.

In addition, carpet beetle larvae will shed their skins as they grow. These discarded casings look much like the shells of bed bug larvae. However, if you manage to catch sight of one, you will notice that they do not look like bed bugs at all.

5. Fleas

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Reddish brown in color, fleas are a common sight for people having pets or animals in general. Fleas are among the bugs mistaken for bed bugs because their bites are traditionally very itchy.

However, they differ from bed bugs in terms of size (? inch) and shape (segmented and laterally flattened).

If you suspect a flea bite, go see your doctor. As it is the case with other insects, fleas are vectors for plenty of diseases.

6. Cockroach Nymphs

The cockroach nymphs appear white right after hatching, but turn reddish brown in color, making them look like bed bugs.

The difference between the two is, nevertheless, that cockroach nymphs do not specifically bite humans. They also dwell in cracks and crevices (and less in your bed), so they are close to food, moisture, and warmth.

Of course, cockroach nymphs turn into cockroaches you should exterminate immediately.?

7. Booklice

Last but not least on our list of bugs that look like bed bugs, booklice look a lot like bed bug nymphs. Their colors range from translucent white, to gray or brown. Small in size, they do not feed on blood, but on fungi, pollen, mold, etc.

If you find them in your bedroom, inspect your wallpaper, bookcase, furniture, window sills, and window sides. They do not live in your bed, but your bedroom might be a good place for them to dwell.

In Summary: Bed Bugs and Their Look Alikes

If you are seeing signs of infestation, the hardest part of fighting it can be identifying which insects have moved in.

There are a variety of glue traps and other ways to capture a few bugs.

  • Once you have one or two to look at, you can begin by looking at the shape, size and color of the insects first.
  • Keep in mind that all of these insects have multiple life stages, and will appear differently depending on their age.
  • Plus, ticks and bed bugs also change in appearance after feeding as their bodies expand.

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Determining the type of insect living in your home will ensure that you will choose the correct treatment method for eliminating the pests. Often times people choose an ineffective bug spray or try to fight the infestation on their own. They end up making it worse by sending the bugs into other parts of their home, instead of actually killing and eliminating them.

Remember that if you are experiencing ongoing symptoms of bed bug infestation, it is best to have a professional come and diagnose the problem.

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Even if you are able to identify ticks or other insects, you cannot assume that you are safe yet.

Many of these insects choose to live in similar environments, so you may be battling multiple different bugs without realizing it.

FAQs Regarding Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs

How do bed bugs look?

To make sure you know what bug you have to deal with, you should first remember how a bed bug looks. Here are its main traits:
1. Oval and flat body
2. Squat head
3. Reddish-brown shell color
4. The size of an apple seed
5. Wingless
6. Has six legs
7. Two antennae

What are the bugs mistaken for bed bugs usually?

The most common bed bugs lookalikes are:
1. Lice
2. Ticks
3. Mites
4. Carpet beetles
5. Fleas
6. Cockroach nymphs
7. Booklice
Although rarer, you can mistake bat bugs and spider beetles for bed bugs as well.

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