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15 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs

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1. Carpet Beetles

varied carpet beetle

Carpet beetles are commonly confused with bed bugs.

That’s no surprise as both are tiny and harbor in furniture, blankets, carpets, and other household items. 

Appearance

Color

The easiest way to tell carpet beetles from bed bugs is with their color.

Bed bugs take on a light brown or dark red color.

In contrast, carpet beetles are either black, brown, or patterned.

The Common carpet beetle and the Varied carpet beetle have patterns with multicolored scales. 

These colors include black, white, brown, red, orange, and yellow. 

Black carpet beetles have a uniform color that typically ranges from black to dark brown.

Shape

Similar to bed bugs, carpet beetles take on an oval flat-shaped appearance.

The only exception is the Black carpet beetle, which takes on an elongated body.

Antenna and Legs 

Carpet beetles and bed bugs also have different looking antennas and legs.

Bed bugs characterized by their diagonal antenna. Carpet beetles, on the other hand, have two bent antennae.  

Bed bugs have six legs with four facing backward and two facing forwards. Carpet beetles have six short legs.

Larva or Babies 

Another critical distinction between carpet beetles and bed bugs is their larva or babies. 

Bed bugs go through a partial metamorphosis, which means their babies look similar to adults, except they are smaller. 

Carpet beetles, on the other hand, produce larva. 

Larvae look like small fury worms. 

They can grow up to ¼ of an inch, have an oval shape, and have Brussels or hairs on their back. 

Diet

Bed bugs rely solely on blood to survive. These pests will suck on the people or pets in the home they are infesting. 

In contrast, Carpet beetles eat pollen and plants.

They will also eat any animal-related fabrics such as wool, blankets, clothing, and upholstery. 

You will typically find tears or missing patches on the fabrics carpet beetles feed on.

 

Habitat

Bed bugs feed on humans and prefer to live near their host. 

As such, they are most often found in mattresses, box springs, headboards, nightstands, pillows, and other furniture in bedrooms. 

They are also commonly found in living rooms and home offices. 

In contrast, carpet beetles live both indoors and outdoors. 

They are common in gardens and yards. You can typically find carpet beetles near flowers, trees, or bushes.

Bites

Bed bugs bite humans to feed on blood.

Their bites look like welts and do not have a red spot at the center, unlike other insect bites such as spiders and fleas. 

Carpet beetles don’t bite people.

Unlike bed bugs, carpet beetles do not survive off blood; instead, they eat animal-based products such as wool.

That said, some people may experience allergies from carpet beetles. 

These allergic reactions are often perceived as bites from carpet beetles, but they not. 

2. Dust Mites

House dust mite

Appearance

Color

Bed bugs range from light brown to dark brown. Dust mites can range from white to light brown.

Size and Shape

Adult Bed bugs are around 3/16 on an inch (4 or 5mm). They can be compared to the size of a short grain of rice. 

In contrast, dust mites are microscopic. They are typically around ¼ to ⅓ mm long, which is about a fraction of the size of a bed bug.  

Both bed bugs and dust mites have an oval-shaped body.

Antenna and Legs 

Bed bugs have six legs with two forward-facing and four backward facing legs. 

Dust mites are born with only six legs. 

After the first molt, dust mites grow two additional legs.

 

Diet

Bed bugs drink blood to survive.

Dust mites eat dead skin and hair that fall off humans and other pets.

These pests are also known to eat other such as:

  • Cotton fibers 
  • Paper 
  • Synthetic materials 
  • Other mite feces and skin
  • Mold
  • Fungus 
  • Pollen
  • Feathers

Because Dust mites enjoy an abundance of food in a home, their populations can grow extremely large.

A mattress can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. 

Habitat

Bed bugs primarily live in bedrooms where food is readily available. 

The most common areas to find bed bugs in your bedroom is on mattresses, box springs, headboards, nightstands, pillows.

Dust mites live inside homes typically on any fabrics or soft materials around the house. 

Some of the most common places that 

  • Bedsheets
  • Mattresses
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Carpets 
  • Curtains 
  • Pillows. 

Bites

Dust mites do not bite people, but their presence can cause allergic reactions confused with bed bug bites. 

Some symptoms of dust mite allergy include: 

  • Skin rash 
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing 
  • Runny or stuffy notes
  • Itchy eyes 
  • Itchy skin 
  • Itchy throat

Bed bugs bite humans to feed on blood.

 

When bed bugs bite you, they administer an anesthetic to make it painless. This method allows them to suck your blood without you noticing.

They also release anticoagulants so they can feed on your blood as efficiently as possible.

While bed bug bites are not painful at first, they can eventually become swollen and irritated.

Bed bug bites look like welts and do not have a red spot at the center, unlike other insect bites such as spiders and fleas. 

Common locations for bed bites include: 

  • Arms 
  • Legs
  • Ankles
  • Back 
  • Torso
  • Neck 
  • Feet 

3. Ticks

tick

Appearance

Color

Depending on the tick species, their color can vary from light brown to dark red or black. When engorged, ticks become darker and take on a reddish black color.

Shape and Size

Both bed bugs and tick have an oval-shaped body.

Adult bed bugs are 3/16” or around 4 to 5mm. They can be compared to the size of a short grain of rice. 

Adult ticks can range in size from 5mm to 15mm. They are much larger when engorged, reaching sizes of 15mm.

Antenna and Legs

Bed bugs have two antennas positioned diagonally from their head. In contrast, ticks do not have antennas. 

Larva or Babies 

When bed bugs first hatch, they are only about 1.5 mm long. They have white, oval, and flat bodies.

The nymphs also have two antennas and six legs.

As they mature, they gradually turn from white to dark brown.

Baby ticks, on the other hand, emerge as six-legged larvae.

They are typically lighter in color than adults with a color ranging from light brown or red. 

Baby ticks are tiny, measuring between 0.5 and 1 mm. 

They will molt twice before each adulthood. 

Diet

Similar to bed bugs, ticks drink blood to survive. 

Adult ticks can survive between one and two years without a host. 

Larvae and nymphs can only survive 1-2 weeks without a host before dying. 

Habitat

Ticks are quite versatile in their habitat. 

 

They can find them both outdoors and indoors.

 

Outdoor harborage:

  • Fallen branches
  • Tall brush
  • Grassy areas
  • Near wood or wooden areas 
  • Bird feeders
  • Leaf piles and litter 
  • Along walls and fences 
  • Near moisture 
  • Near trash cans 
 

Indoor harborage:

  • Carpet 
  • Bedrooms 
  • Dog Kennels 
  • Cat Toys 
  • Pets 
  • Mattresses 
  • Blankets 
  • Dirty laundry 
 

In contrast, bed bugs flourish in places where humans stay for long periods. 

 

These pests take harbor in mattresses, box springs, headboards, nightstands, pillows, upholstery, and other furniture.

Bites

Both ticks and bed bugs bite to feed on blood.

But, unlike bed bugs, ticks stay attached to their host for several days before releasing their grip.

Bed bugs, on the other hand, leaves its host after feeding.

Tick bites typically leave a small, circular red mark followed by a larger red circle around the smaller red circle.

Bed bug bites look like welts. Their bites also come in a clusters, typically with a zig zag pattern.

4. Fleas

Flea on human skin.

Appearance

Color

Both fleas and bed bugs are light brown to dark brown in color. 

Shape and Size

Bed bugs are have oval bodies. Fleas, on the other hand, are more rectangular. They are also more narrow compared to bed bugs. 

In terms of size, fleas are typically smaller, but when fully engorged, they are comparable to bed bugs.

Fleas are 2- 4mm while bed bugs are around 4-5mm long.

Antenna and Legs 

Bed bugs and fleas have six legs. 

Fleas have distinct back legs similar to crickets, which allow them to jump. 

They also have distinct legs right below their mouth. 

Diet

Like bed bugs, fleas only feed on the blood of mammals.

The difference is the type of blood they prefer.

Bed bugs prefer humans, while fleas prefer pets and other mammals.

That said, both these pests will feed on any warm blooded mammals if there are no other food available.

Habitat

Bed bug’s primary habitat is indoors. You’ll typically find them in bedrooms, living rooms, and office spaces.

In contrast, fleas are more commonly outdoors.

If you return from outdoors with a bite, it is likely a flea, tick, or another insect bite rather than a bed bug bite.

If you have fleas indoors, you’ll likely find them harboring inside carpets, upholstery, and near pet bedding.

Bites

Flea bites and bed bugs bites can look very similar.

Similar to bed bugs, flea bites tend to come in clusters.

One difference between fleas and bed bugs is that fleas typically bite on the legs, ankles, and feet. 

Bed bugs tend to bite any exposed skin while sleeping; this includes arms, legs, back, torso, and even neck.

5. Spider Beetles

spider beetle side view

Appearance

Color

Bed bugs range from light brown to dark brown.

Spider beetles can vary in color from light brown to red-brown. Some species can have a pattern on their backs.

Shape and Size

Spider beetles look similar to bed bugs because of their oval shape.

These two insects are also similar in size.

Bed bugs are around 4-5mm long while spider beetles can vary from 1-5mm.

Antenna and Legs 

Just like bed bugs, spider beetles have six legs. But their legs are much longer than bed bugs.

Wings

Some species of spider beetles have wings and are capable of flight. Bed bugs, on the other hand, have wing pads but can not fly. 

Diet

Spider beetles have a diverse diet. They eat almonds, beans, cereals, cornmeal, dates, mushrooms, figs, nutmeg, bread, and seeds, among other things.

They can also eat hair, feathers, animal skin, dead insects, and textiles.


Bed bugs, on the other hand, rely solely on blood to survive.

Habitat

Bed bugs live next to their host. These pests aggregate in bedrooms, living rooms, and office spaces.

Spider beetles live in wall voids, attics, kitchen, and inside grains or flour.

Bites

Unlike bed bugs, spider beetles do not bite.

They also do not cause any allergies or any diseases. 

Bed bugs, on the other hand, bite humans to feed on their blood.

While bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases, their bites can cause discomfort and irritation. The presence of bed bugs can also cause allergic reaction to some.

6. Swallow Bugs

Appearance

swallow bug

Color

Swallow bugs are a similar color to bed bugs they take on a light brown to reddish-brown. 

There is some exception that some swallow bugs can take on a grey tint whereas bed bugs are always light to dark brown. 

Shape

Both bed bugs and tick have an oval-shaped, flattened bodies.

Adult bed bugs are 3/16” or around 4 to 5mm.

Swallow bugs grow up to 3/16 of an inch in length. 

Antenna and Legs 

Both swallow bugs and bed bugs have segmented antennas.

They are different, however, in that bed bugs antennas get thinner towards the tip.

Swallow bugs’ antennas, on the other hand, are uniform is size.

Hair

Swallow begs typically have small hairs around their head and sometimes on their bodies.

Bed bugs do not have any hair.

Diet

Both bed bugs and swallow bugs are blood-sucking insects.

But they prefer to get their blood meals from different hosts.

Swallow bugs prefer to get their source of food from Cliff swallows. Bed bugs, on the other hand, prefer to get their blood meal from humans.

While, swallow bugs can feed on other outdoor mammals such as pigs and horses, but they cannot develop or reproduce without the feeding on cliff swallows’ blood.

Habitat

Unlike bed bugs, swallow bugs are not common in cities.

These bugs are typically found inside barns, farm buildings, large warehouses, storage sheds, and other facilities near ranches or farms. 

Bites

Bed bugs prefer not to bite humans. But they will do so if their habitat is destroyed and they have no other food source.

8. Bat Bugs

bat bug top view

Appearance

Color and Shape

Bat bugs look very similar to bed bugs. They have flat, oval, and reddish-brown bodies.

Antenna and Legs 

Similar to bed bugs, bat bugs have six legs and two antennae.

Hair

Bat bugs are unique to bed bugs because they have fringe hairs located just below their head.

Diet

Like bed bugs, they also feed on blood, with their preferred hosts being bats.

These bugs will instead not feed on human blood but will suck on it if food is scarce.

As such, unlike bed bugs, you won’t find bat bugs on mattresses and furniture.

Instead, they generally aggregate in attics.

Habitat

Unlike bed bugs, you won’t find bat bugs on mattresses and furniture.

You’ll find these bugs where bats live such as caves, trees, or outdoor buildings. 

If you do find these bugs in your home, they’ll generally be in attics.

Bites

Bat bugs feed primarily on bats, which makes it unlikely for them to bite you.

That said, they will bite you if their primary host is not around.

Bat bug bites look similar to bed bugs. 

Like bed bugs, bat bugs don’t transmit diseases. However, they can spread disease found on the feces of bats if they walk through it.

9. Booklice

booklice

Appearance

Color

Booklice are often confused with baby bed bugs.

Like bed bug nymphs, these insects are white or brown.

Shape and Size

Compared to bed bugs, booklice are small, measuring only 1/32 to ⅛ of an inch. 

The oval shape of their body looks very similar to that of a bed bug. 

Booklice have a distinct pronotum separating the head and the abdomen. 

Antenna

Booklice are different than bed bugs in that they have a much longer antenna.

Diet

Booklice primarily feed on mold and fungus. Bed bugs, on the other hand, rely solely on blood to survive.

Habitat

Booklice dehydrate very quickly. As such, they like to live near moisture or molded areas.

You’ll typically find booklice on window sills, old books, wallpaper, and other water damaged areas. 

In contrast, bed bugs generally aggregate in bedrooms, living rooms and office spaces.

These pests like to bed near their host. As such, they are most commonly found on mattresses and headboards.

Bites

Unlike bed bugs, booklice do not bite.

They also do not cause allergic reactions.  

However, their skin casings and residue mixed with mold can cause asthma attacks. 

10. German Cockroach (Nymph)

baby american cockroach

Appearance

Color 

Both german roaches and bed bugs are white when they first hatch.

As they grow, both insects will develop a reddish-brown and will look eerily similar to each other.

Shape

Bed bugs have a flat, oval shape, while german roaches are more elongated.

German roaches are one of the smallest type of cockroach. A full-grown adult ranges from ½ to ⅝ of an inch long.

Adult bed bugs are 3/16” or around 4 to 5mm. They are usually the size of poppy seeds throughout their life cycle.

Antenna

German cockroach have a long straight antenna, whereas bed bugs have a shorter, diagonal antenna.

Wings

German cockroaches also have wings, and bed bugs do not.

Diet

Cockroaches are scavengers and will eat anything from crumbs, grease, feces, hair, and dead skin.

In contrast, bed bugs only feed on one thing: blood

Habitat

A german roach’s favorite hiding place is dark, quiet, warm with food and water nearby.

If you have a German cockroach infestation, 99% of the time, they are hiding in your kitchen or bathroom.

Bed bugs are most commonly found in bedrooms or mattresses. 

Bites

While German cockroaches can bite people, it’s highly unlikely.

Cockroaches shy away from humans and will avoid us as much as possible.

Reports of cockroaches biting people typically happen in houses with massive infestations.

In this situation, there is insufficient food to support the cockroaches and may result in chewing on fingernails or eyelashes.

Massive infestations are not safe for living.

Most people will never experience such a massive infestation, let alone live in one.

11. Headlice

headlice

Appearance

Color

Head lice are usually yellow to white in color.

While bed bugs are white right after they hatch, they develop reddish-brown color as they grow.

Shape

Head lice looks very similar to bed bugs, although they are only about half the size when fully grown. 

They have a narrower body than bed bugs, although they do have a similar oval abdomen.

Antenna and Legs 

Head lice have much shorter antennas than bed bugs.

Both insects have 6 legs.

Diet

Both head lice and bed bugs are blood sucking insects.

Habitat

Head lice are found primarily on the human scalp.

You may see them on your bed, blanket, or pillows when they fall off your head.

Unlike bed bugs, you won’t see lice harboring inside mattresses and box springs.

Bites

Like bed bugs, head lice bite humans to suck on blood.

But, unlike head lice, bed bugs will not typically bite you on your head. They try to avoid areas of your body with hair.

Both insect bites produce similar markings and side effects.

Like bed bugs, head lice bites leave small red bumps and can be extremely uncomfortable and itchy.

12. Kissing Bugs

kissing bugs

Kissing bugs and bed bugs do not look anything alike. But they are not confused about their appearances but rather because of their bite marks. 

Appearance

Color

Kissing bugs are brown or black with a yellow and brown pattern on their abdomen.

Shape and Size

Kissing bugs are significantly larger than bed bugs at ¾” to 1 ¼”.

Antenna and Legs 

Both kissing bugs and bed bugs have six legs and two antennas.

 

Diet

Indoors kissing bugs are typically hidden in cracks, holes, bed frames, floorboards, walls, and inside furniture gaps.

Whereas bed bugs live primarily in bedrooms kissing bugs can fly and crawl to reach their host.

It’s not common for kissing bugs to infest homes but it is possible.

It is more common for them to live outdoors and attack mammals and other rodents for food.

Outdoors they are commonly found in trees, brush piles, or beneath bark.

They also hide were mammals are living such as animals nest and rodent burrows.

If you have pets or other animals outside such as horses or chickens they will hide inside their kennels.

Habitat

Kissing bugs live primarily outdoors.

When they are indoors, they aggregate in bed frames, floorboards, walls, and inside furniture gaps.

Bites

Kissing bugs leave very similar bite marks as bed bugs. 

Their bite marks come in clusters and have a similar size as bed bugs.

Kissing bugs are known for transmitting a parasite that causes chiggers’ disease through their bites. 

Bed bugs, on the other hand, do not cause or transmit any diseases.

13. Stink Bug

stink bugs

Appearance

Color

Stink bugs have a mottled brownish grey pattern while bed bugs take on a uniform color ranging from light brown to dark red. 

Shape and Size 

Stink bugs have a similar body shape and color as bed bugs, but they are quite easy to distinguish.

While they have a similar body shape, stink bugs have a triangular body with straight sides.

Bed bugs have an oval body with curved sides.

Stink bugs measure around 5/8th of an inch compared to 3/16th of an inch for bed bugs. 

Antenna and Legs 

Stink bugs have longer legs and antenna than bed bugs.

 

Diet

Stinks bugs eat flowers and fruit. They will also feed on crops such as soybeans, cotton, and sorghum. 

If these food sources are not available they will resort to eating weeds, grass, and plants. 

Indoors stink bugs will feed on plants, fruit, and grains. 

Habitat

Outdoors stink bugs are common in gardens, near bushes, trees, and orchards. 

They are also common in bushy grass and weeds as well as under objects in grass such as stones or yard ornaments. 

Indoors stink bugs live in small crevices, cracks, and wall voids. 

They are also common in attics, folds in fabrics, curtains, drapery, and in hollow or dark areas around your home.  

Bites

Stink bugs are harmless. They don’t bite or transmit diseases.

In rare cases, they can cause allergic reactions that result in dermatitis.

Though dermatitis should not be confused with bed bug bites because they look distinctly different.

Dermatitis causes a large cluster of rashes

14. Chimney Swift Bug

chimney swift bug

Appearance

Color

The Chimney swift bug is a cousin of the bed bug similar to swallow and bat bugs.

They look very similar to bed bugs in terms of color.

They often take on a light brown or reddish-brown color.

They sometimes appear black, but this is usually due to the soot they live with inside chimneys.

Shape and Size

Chimney bugs are oval, just like bed bugs. The one noticeable difference is that chimney bugs are smaller than bed bugs.

Antenna and Legs

Both chimney bugs and bed bugs have segmented antennas.

They are different; however, in that bed bugs, antennas get shorter towards the tip.

Chimney swift antennas, on the other hand, are uniform in size.

Hair

Chimney bugs typically have small hairs around their head and bodies.
Bed bugs do not have any hair.

Diet

Both bed bugs and chimney swift bugs are blood-sucking insects.

But they prefer to get their blood meals from different hosts.

Chimney swift bugs prefer to get their source of food from chimney swifts, as the name suggests.

These birds build their nest in chimneys, and other vertical surfaces such as air vents, wells, hollow trees, and caves.

Habitat

These bugs are found in the nest of the chimney swift bird.

These birds forage over urban, suburban, rivers, lakes, forests, and fields.

Chimney swift birds are common across the East, Northeast, and Mid West U.S.

There are also some cases of chimney swifts in southern California during the summers.

Bites

Chimney swift bugs prefer not to bite humans.

But they will do so if their habitat is destroyed and they have no other food source.

15. Poultry Bug or Mexican Chicken Bug

Appearance

Color 

The Poultry bug is a cousin of the bed bug similar to swallow and bat bugs. 

They look very similar to bed bugs in terms of color. 

They often take on a light brown or reddish-brown color.  

Shape and Size 

Poultry bugs are oval, just like bed bugs. They are also comparable in size. 

Poultry bugs are almost identical in terms of shape and size. 

Antenna and Legs

Both chimney bugs and bed bugs have segmented antennas.

They are different; however, in that bed bugs, antennas get shorter towards the tip.

Swallow bugs’ antennas, on the other hand, are uniform in size.

Hair

Poultry bugs have small hairs around their head and bodies.

Bed bugs do not have any hair.

Diet

Both bed bugs and poultry bugs are blood-sucking insects.

But they prefer to get their blood meals from different hosts.

Poultry bugs prefer to get their source of food from chickens or other domesticated fowl.

Domesticated fowl are commonly found on farms or ranches.

Habitat

Poultry bugs are common on farms or ranches.

These bed bugs will live near any domesticated fowl.

Bites

Poultry bugs prefer to feed on domesticated fowl.

Given a chance, they will feed on humans, although it’s unlikely.

FAQ

What Attracts Bed Bugs?

The three primary things that bed bugs are attracted to: 

  1. Heat 
  2. CO2
  3. Histamine

 

Bed bugs are attracted to these three things because they signal the presence of a host.

 

Humans produce both heat and CO2. 

 

We release body heat of at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. 

 

And when we produce CO2 every time, we exhale.

 

When bed bugs sense CO2 and temperature, they know their next blood meal is close.

 

Histamine is a chemical that bed bugs use to attract each other to a host.

 

Bed bugs do this by leaving this chemical on the surface of the skin after biting you.

 

This chemical signals to other bed bugs that there is food, and it’s safe to eat.

 

This behavior can help explain why people with bed bugs often end up with clusters of bites.

 

After a bed bug finds an area to bite you, it alerts other bed bugs in your home to come to enjoy the buffet.

What causes bed bugs?

Bed bugs move from room to room through holes, cracks, and crevices.

They also enter your home by hitchhiking a ride on backpacks, luggage, clothes.

If you’ve traveled somewhere with bed bugs or have a neighbor who has bed bugs, you likely got your bed bugs there.

It’s also possible to get bed bugs if you recently purchase used furniture or other used items such as clothes.

What are the signs of bed bugs?

Some of the most common signs of bed bug infestation are:

  1. Live bed bugs – Bed bugs are about the size of a grain of rice, oval, flat, and light brown to reddish-brown. 
  2. Bed Bug Eggs – Bed bugs are smaller than a grain of rice, white and are oval.
  3. Dried blood – Small specs of fresh blood will look like dark red dots around your couch. 
  4. Skin casings – Bed bugs shed their skin to grow. The presence of these skin cases is a good sign of bed bug infestation.
  5. Bed Bug Feces – bed bug feces appears as small black spots or black/brown streaks. 

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide? 

Bed bugs aggregate in places near their host, such as mattresses and headboards.

They take harborage in dark places with little airflows such as seams, edges, folds in fabric, and crevices. 

They are notorious for hiding on mattresses, box springs, bed boards, nightstands, and anything else near your bed in bedrooms. 

Some common places bed bugs aggregate are:

  • Mattress 
  • Bed Frame 
  • Boxspring 
  • Clothes 
  • Nightstand 
  • Dresser
  • Head Board
  • Couch
  • Electronics
  • Carpet 
  • Luggage 
  • Blinds 
  • Curtains 
  • Cracks, crevices, fabric seams, and folds

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