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Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs: Know the Difference

Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs: Know the Difference
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Bed bugs are among the most frustrating pest problems to face because they’re notoriously hard to find and a challenge to get rid of. But are you sure you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation?

Several bugs look like bed bugs and can be easily confused if you’re not a pest expert. In this guide, we’ll talk about the different bugs that look like bed bugs and how you can tell the difference between them.

What Are Bed Bugs?

A bunch of bugs that look like bed bugs illuminated under a graphic microscope

Bed bugs are tiny parasitic bugs that feed on human blood. They are brown and about the same size as an apple seed. Adult bed bugs are only 3/16 inch to 1/4 inch long.

Bed bugs hide until they come out to feed, staying in seams, cracks, folds, and crevices in and around a bed. It’s not always easy to recognize a bed bug infestation because they are small and tend to stay hidden.

There are some tell-tale signs of a bed bug infestation, like finding bite marks on your arms, legs, neck, or face and small, rust-colored spots on your bedding. However, these signs could point to a different type of pest infestation, too.

That’s why it’s important to know about other bugs that look like bed bugs. Let’s look at some of the bugs that are easy to confuse with bed bugs and how you can tell the difference.

1. Bat Bugs

Two different types of bugs that look like bed bugs showing their street and scientific names

Key Characteristics

  • Color: Bat bugs can be nearly black, reddish-brown, or a pale yellow-brown color. 
  • Size and Shape: Bat bugs, like bed bugs, are about the size of an apple seed and have oval-shaped bodies. 
  • Wings: Bat bugs do not have wings, but they do have wing pads that may resemble tiny wings that are flat against the body. 
  • Other Features: Bat bugs have tiny hairs on their heads that are almost imperceptibly longer than the hairs on bed bugs’ heads. Their bodies come to a rounded point, unlike bed bugs, which have a more oval shape.

Bat bugs are often confused with bed bugs because they look very similar. In fact, it usually takes a professional pest specialist to tell the difference between bat bugs and bed bugs.

Bat bugs may bite if they are not around their preferred food source – bats. Like bed bugs are typically found in beds or areas where they have easy access to humans, bat bugs are usually found in places where colonies of bats live.

This includes attics, chimneys, spaces between walls, and abandoned buildings. If you think you have a bed bug infestation, a pest control specialist may discover that you’re dealing with bat bugs.

If your exterminator finds that you have a bat bug problem, they will first deal with the colony of bats and then disinfect it. Bat bugs will not survive without bats as a host. 

2. Booklice

A bunch of booklice larvae

Key Characteristics

  • Color: Booklice are pale, yellow-brown, or cream-colored.
  • Size and Shape: Booklice are tiny, ranging in size from 1/32 inch to 1/4 inch. They have long, segmented, oval-shaped soft bodies and are more similar in appearance to termites than bed bugs.
  • Wings: Some booklice have wings, but not all do. Booklice with wings have four wings.
  • Other Features: Booklice have long, thin antennas. They do not bite like true lice and do not feed on blood. Booklice are suspected of triggering asthma attacks in people with asthma.

Booklice are another type of bug that are often mistaken for bed bugs. You’ll find booklice in damp, humid areas. They’re often found in old books because they like humid spaces that provide them with nourishment.

They feed on the organic or decaying matter like fungi, algae, and lichen. You’ll most likely find them in areas of your home where wallpaper, books, fabric, paintings, and documents are. These are some of their favorite food sources.

Booklice need warmth and humidity to survive. Their bodies are susceptible to drying out, especially if they are deprived of humidity for long periods. If you suspect you have a booklice infestation in your home, call a pest control specialist.

In the meantime, you can make your home less hospitable for booklice by reducing humidity, having leaks fixed, and removing or properly storing the items booklice like to eat. 

3. Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles as an image for a piece on bugs that look like bed bugs

Key Characteristics

  • Color: Carpet beetles range in color from almost solid black to a mottled, patterned coloring with black, white, red, and orange.
  • Size and Shape: Carpet beetles are tiny – about 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch long. Their bodies are shaped like a rounded oval. 
  • Wings: Carpet beetles do have wings as adults and will fly around, usually in the daytime. 
  • Other Features: Carpet beetles have short antennae that may be hard to see unless you’re very close. They do not bite but can cause dermatitis if someone in the home is in direct contact with them. The short, bristled hairs on their bodies can cause a rash or small red bumps that may be mistaken for bed bug bites.

Carpet beetles are sometimes mistaken for bed bugs. They are small, black insects that can be either solid-colored or can have a mottled pattern on their bodies.

You might find carpet beetles in window sills during springtime, or in carpet or fabric items you have stored around the house. It’s prevalent to find carpet beetles in rolled-up rugs that are stored in closets as well. 

The adults don’t eat or damage fabrics. They feed on flower pollen. Carpet beetle larvae will eat and digest any item that contains keratin – feathers, silk, wool, fur, leather, and animal skins.

Female carpet beetles can lay up to 100 eggs on these materials to ensure the larvae are near a food source.

Carpet beetles are sometimes brought into a home on fresh flowers or other plant matter. If you think you have carpet beetles but are having trouble distinguishing them from bed bugs, you should call a pest control professional.

They will inspect your home and determine what type of insect is causing an infestation. In the meantime, thoroughly vacuuming, steam cleaning carpets, and laundering seldom-used fabrics stored in closets can help begin to get the problem under control.

4. Cockroach Nymphs

Cockroach nymphs shown as bugs that look like be bugs

Key Characteristics

  • Color: The color of cockroach nymphs ranges from white (right after hatching) to reddish-brown, which is most similar to a bed bug.
  • Size and Shape: Cockroach nymphs have small, cylindrical bodies that are about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch long (American cockroaches are bigger than German cockroaches, but both are common pests in American homes). They are thinner in shape than bed bugs, which are more oval-shaped and similar to an apple seed. 
  • Wings: Cockroach nymphs do not have developed wings yet. As adults, German cockroaches do have wings but cannot fly. American cockroaches have wings and are capable of flying.
  • Other Features: Cockroach nymphs have two antennae, six legs with small, hairy spines, and two small cerci (appendages at the base of the body) that are difficult to see until the cockroach becomes an adult.

Cockroach nymphs are sometimes confused for bed bugs because they have a similar appearance. While adult cockroaches look quite different from bed bugs and are considerably larger, nymphs are small and share a few characteristics with bed bugs.

Cockroach nymphs signal a larger infestation of roaches. Seeing baby cockroaches can be mistaken for a bed bug infestation, mainly because the nymphs are most active at night and stay hidden during the daytime.

Bed bugs and cockroaches are treated differently by exterminators. Calling an exterminator at the first sign of an infestation will prevent it from getting worse and becoming more challenging to treat. 

5. Fleas

Bugs that look like bed bugs featuring a flea against a sandy background

Key Characteristics

  • Color: Fleas are brown or reddish-brown, depending on how recently they’ve fed.
  • Size and Shape: Fleas are about 1/8 inch long and are shaped like a flattened oval. 
  • Wings: Fleas do not have wings, but their long legs make them capable of jumping as much as 150 times the length of their bodies. 
  • Other Features: Fleas have very long legs compared to the size of their bodies that enable them to jump. There are different flea species, but the most common to find infesting a home are dog and cat fleas.

If you’ve seen small, hopping pests in your home, you might have wondered if they were bed bugs. Fleas are sometimes mistaken for bed bugs because they are small, reddish-brown bugs that bite and leave behind bite marks and itchy rashes.

Fleas carry diseases like cat scratch fever, myxomatosis, murine typhus, rickettsiosis, and even the plague. They transmit these diseases when they bite an animal or human host.

A flea infestation can be miserable for the humans and animals living in a home as their bites are very itchy. Fleas may look like bed bugs at first glance.

But their bodies are shaped differently, and they generally don’t hide in the same places as bed bugs. They also jump large distances compared to their body size, which bed bugs cannot do.

Whether the pest infesting your home is fleas or bed bugs, it’s crucial to call a pest control professional immediately. 

6. Spider Beetles

Spider beadles as an image for a piece on bugs that look like bed bugs

Key Characteristics

  • Color: American spider beetles are reddish-brown, which is similar to the color of bed bugs. 
  • Size and Shape: American spider beetles are anywhere from 1/32 inch to 1/4 inch long, but the size does vary by species. Their bodies are teardrop-shaped and smooth, much like a spider, with six legs and two long extensions near the head. 
  • Wings: Some spider beetles do have wings, but not all.
  • Other Features: Spider beetles are most active at night, like bed bugs, and generally only come out of hiding to feed. Unlike bed bugs and some of the other pests on this list, spider beetles are not blood feeders.

Spider beetles, like bed bugs, have tiny, rounded bodies (though bed bugs are more oval). They have six legs, but two long antenna-like extensions near their heads that can make it difficult to distinguish them from actual spiders.

From above, they look more similar to bed bugs. They are not as serious of a pest as bed bugs are, however, and have different characteristics. 

Spider beetles eat whatever kind of food they can forage, so it’s common to find them in a pantry or cabinet. They also hide in cracks, crevices, floorboards, attics, wall voids, and more.

This reclusive behavior can make them seem even more similar to bed bugs, which hide in tiny spaces and can be difficult to find.

When to Call a Pro

Guy in a REthority shirt calling an exterminator

If the pests in your home don’t seem to be bat bugs, booklice, carpet beetles, cockroach nymphs, fleas, or spider beetles, you may have bed bugs.

A local pest control professional will be able to inspect your home, determine what type of infestation (if any) you’re dealing with, and begin taking steps to treat and clear your home of pests.

Get a Quote
Find Local Pest Control

We partnered with Networx to help you find local pest control techs. Click to below to get a FREE quote.

Find Pest Control
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

Have Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs? Call a Pro

Wondering which insect is in your home, or just curious which bugs that look like bed bugs? Even if you’re not sure what the pest’s true identity is, you should call a pest control professional near you to have your home treated right away.

You may have more than one type of infestation. And the longer you let an infestation continue, the more difficult it will be to treat. Bed bugs are a serious pest problem that requires a professional to exterminate and treat your home.

They use special techniques that target bed bugs in different stages of their life and reproductive cycles. And there are a few stages in which you may see an infestation.

Simply click the button below, which will connect you with a local, trusted pest control vendor. And while you’re here, check out some of our other related guides below.

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