Bed Bugs vs. Bat Bugs: Similarities and Differences (Photos)

Last Updated on December 9, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

“Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” people have all heard the phrase before and probably didn’t pay much attention when it was said, but there’s a reason for it: bed bugs have been around for a long time. Recently, these pests have seen an increase in population which may mean that more people are getting bed bug infestations.

Most people believe every bug on their mattress is a bed bug, but what else could it be? There are other pests that are frequently confused for bed bugs, and recognizing the difference can help you remove them more effectively.

Bat bugs and bed bugs comparison chart

bat bug vs bed bug
SizeAdults are about 5-7 mm, or as big as the seed of an appleAdults are usually around 6 mm in length.
ColorUsually mahogany to rusty brown color.Typically dark brown or red
Number of LegsSix legs.Six legs.
Host PreferenceNaked, exposed flesh.Bats, flesh of humans and other animals.
Feeding HabitsThey feed every three to four days, and each feeding takes between five and fifteen minutes.They feed every 5 to 10 days or once a week if there’s food available.
HabitatThey build colonies in common sleeping areas like beds, mattresses, and couches.Bat bugs are most commonly found in cracks and crevices where bats roost. 
DiseaseBed bugs are not disease carriers.Bat bugs do not transmit diseases to humans when they bite.

What are the Differences Between Bat Bugs and Bed Bugs?

The bed bug has evolved to exist with humans exclusively, and is the only species in its insect family to do so. Following World War II, it was mostly wiped from the United States, with only a few enclaves remaining. 

However, it has experienced a phenomenal rebirth in the last decade. Bed bugs can be mistakenly carried on furniture, luggage, and other objects, therefore bed bug infestations are most common in flats, motels, and other places with a lot of people.

The bat bag is most usually mistaken for a bed bug. These bloodsuckers are related to bed bugs, except they prefer to eat bat blood. That means bat bugs aren’t the last of your problems, but most probably a bat colony somewhere in your home.

To the naked eye, bat bugs and bed bugs seem remarkably identical. To identify between the two species, you’ll need a stereoscope or a USB digital microscope with a magnification of 20x to 50x. 

Knowing what to look for in order to properly identify a bed bug is beneficial. Color, shape, and size are all characteristics that can help you distinguish bed bugs from other insects. It’s hard to differentiate a bed bug from a bat bug by just simply looking at their images so dive deeper and discover major distinctions between the two. 

Related: 10 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs But Aren’t


When trying to detect a possible bed bug, most people start by looking at bed bug photographs. The size of bed bugs varies according to their life stage and age. Here’s a general bed bug size comparison of each stage to help you understand bed bugs and their life cycle:

  • Eggs (1 mm)
  • 1st stage nymph (1.5 mm)
  • 2nd stage nymph (2 mm)
  • 3rd stage nymph (2.5 mm)
  • 4th stage nymph (3 mm)
  • 5th stage nymph (4.5 mm)
  • Adults (5-7 mm)

Bat bugs are tiny insects that have flat, oval bodies, similar to other species in the Cimicidae family. Adults are usually around 6 mm in length, which mean its size doesn’t differ much to that of a bed bug. 

Related: How Big is a Bed Bug? (Sizes At Different Life Stages)


bed bug

Adult bed bugs are a mahogany to rusty brown color when they aren’t fed. After a blood meal, engorged bed bugs turn a reddish-brown color. When nymphs (baby bed bugs) hatch, they are practically colorless and turn brownish as they age.

Bat bags have similar colouration. They are typically dark brown or red after feeding. 

Related: What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like? and How To Kill Them

Number of legs

bat bug 1
Bat bug

Insects such as bed bugs and bat bugs exist. As with all insects, they have six legs and two antennae. This makes it easier to tell them apart from adult mites and arachnids. Bed bugs, unlike other insects such as wasps and ants, do not have three different body parts.

The thorax of a bat bug has longer fringe hairs than the bed bug.

Host Preference

The carbon dioxide generated by their hosts attracts bed bugs. As a result, they prefer to eat naked flesh that is exposed while sleeping at night. They are, however, opportunistic insects that will eat blood during the day, especially in densely infested locations.

Bed bugs prefer to feed on people, but they will also feed on other warm-blooded hosts.

Bedbugs are active at night, with feeding activity peaking after midnight. When the victim is idle or sleeping, bed bugs feed on blood once every 1–2 weeks. Feeding takes around 5–10 minutes and is usually done on exposed portions of the body while sleeping, such as the face, neck, arms, and hands.

Bats (Cimex adjunctus) are the principal hosts of bat bugs. If their usual host is unavailable, they will occasionally feed on people. Bat bugs, like the bed bug, have never proved to transfer disease-causing infections to humans. Bed bug and bat bug bites, on the other hand, can induce insomnia, worry, and stress in many people.

Related: Bed Bugs Vs. Ticks Side By Side: Differences and Similarities

Feeding Habits

Bed bugs don’t eat by burrowing under your skin; instead, they use piercing, sucking mouthparts to get blood. Similar to mosquitoes, when they feed, they inject saliva into the skin, causing allergic reactions and skin irritation. Their bites, on the other hand, are frequently undetectable at the moment.

The heat, wetness, and carbon dioxide released by their chosen hosts attract bed bugs. They feed every three to four days, and each feeding takes between five and fifteen minutes. Bed bugs can go months without eating and remain dormant until they locate a new host. 

Bat bugs employ bats as their principal host, hence the presence of flying mammals may be accompanied by bat bug infestations. However, bat bugs usually feed every 5 to 10 days or once a week if there’s food available. 


Infestations of bed bugs are most common at or around sleeping areas. When bed bug populations grow large, they will be seen dispersing across the room. Bed bugs can move from one room to another through wall openings where plumbing and electrical wirings pass through.

In bedrooms, look particularly on and around:

  • Different parts of the mattress like the folds, tufts, and box springs.
  • Furniture such as desks and chairs.
  • Behind wallpaper, clocks and pictures.
  • Under the carpets.
  • Between wood floor cracks and crevices.

When bats become established indoors, bat bugs are typically found in attics and other similar locations where there isn’t much light. Bat bugs are most commonly seen in the gaps and surfaces where bats roost.

However, if a bat bug’s host is removed, bat bugs eventually start to make their move within a building in the span of one to four weeks. Bat bugs, like bed bugs, will take up residence in people’s homes once they’ve found a host.


Bed bugs aren’t known to be disease carriers. Bed bugs can be inconvenient since they can cause skin itch and disrupt sleep. Itching can occasionally lead to a lot of scratching, which might increase the risk of a subsequent skin infection.

Each person is affected differently by a bad insect bite. Bite reactions can vary from no visible symptoms of the bite to a minor bite mark to a severe allergic reaction. Bed bugs are rarely deadly, but an allergic reaction to multiple bites may necessitate medical treatment.

Bat bugs, like bed bugs, do not transmit diseases to humans when they bite. That does not, however, imply that their bites are pleasant.

They also have diseases on their bodies that can be shared through their actions, so you don’t want them in your bed, couch, or workplace chair. Furthermore, bat bugs indicate the presence of — or the absence of — bats.

While bats are beneficial to our environment, you don’t want them in your home since they carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans, such as rabies. Even after the bats have flown away in search of a new roost, histoplasmosis can be conveyed to humans through their feces, known as “guano.” 

These disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can be fatal if left untreated.

Related: Bed Bugs Vs. Ticks Side By Side: Differences and Similarities

Where do they live?

Another significant distinction between these two bugs is their habitat or dwelling.

The majority of bed bugs can be located just a few feet from their food, which includes beds, and other commonly used furniture. Bat bugs can be found here as well, although they are most commonly found in regions where bats live, like attics.

Bat bugs can be seen on walls and ceilings. However, they normally stay in close proximity to the source of their food. Bat bugs feed on a range of bat species, the most frequent of which are the little brown bats and big brown bats. Bat bugs are commonly found within buildings or other deserted and mostly empty spaces where colonies of bats have been established.

How Do They Spread?

Bed bugs and bat bugs don’t have wings so they must rely on crawling to go about. In other circumstances, this means that infections will spread slowly. They can, however, migrate through walls, floor and ceiling holes, and on pipes.

Most bed bugs, on the other hand, spread from place to place when they get onto people’s clothing, linens, or furniture, as well as into baggage. People will then transport the bed bugs from one location to another far more quickly than the bed bugs could infest new regions on their own.

Bat bug bites vs Bed bug bites

Bedbugs usually feed during the night when their victims are sleeping. Using their extended beak, they can suck blood by piercing the skin. They eat for several minutes and crawl away from the host unnoticed.

The majority of bedbug bites are harmless at first, but develop into unpleasant welts later. Bedbug bites are anywhere on the skin exposed when sleeping, unlike flea bites, which are mostly around the ankles. In addition, unlike flea bites, the bites do not have a red area in the center.

People can be bitten without realizing it. Some can have mild reactions to the bite, while others have more serious reactions like hives.

  • Many common reactions look similar to bed bug bites such as bites of other insects, allergic reactions, and contact to poisonous plants.
  • The only way to confirm if the bite is from a bed bug is through detecting and identifying that there is indeed a bed bug present in the area.

Bat bug bites can be quite painful; in fact, their biting has been compared to that of a bedbug. Some people have an allergic reaction to the saliva of bat bugs, resulting in an uncomfortable welt or lump at the bite site. Scratching the bite might cause it to become infected, which can lead to more serious health problems.

Related: Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites: Similarities and Differences

Bat Bug and bed bug prevention

common bed bugs

Prevention is the best defense against both bugs. Avoid going to places where there is a current infestation since they can adhere to your clothing and be brought home with you.

Bats will be attracted to any gaps or holes in your walls, so seal them up. If you find eggs, nymphs, or adults in your bedding or clothes, wash them in hot water and dry them on the highest setting.

You may have heard that rubbing alcohol can be used to kill bed bugs and bat bugs. On contact, rubbing alcohol will destroy these parasites. However, spraying the ones you can’t see is difficult, and the surviving will continue to reproduce. Diatomaceous earth is a natural material that can kill bugs by drying out their exoskeletons. Even this, though, is a temporary solution.

How to get rid of bed bugs and Bat Bugs

Although bed bugs and bat bugs have a lot in common, one is easier to get rid of than the other. Because bat bugs favor bats, eliminating the bat problem in your attic usually eliminates their parasites as well. It’s also less difficult to eradicate bat bugs with a single treatment.

Bed bugs, on the other hand, prefer human hosts and are a more problematic case. Bed bugs are difficult to spot since they are little, superb hiders, and nocturnal feeders. Because they are so tenacious and proliferate so quickly, professional extermination is the best option.

If people suspect they’ve found a bat bug, they must contact a pest control professional as soon as possible. A skilled specialist can analyze the problem and decide whether their home is infested with bats or bed bugs. 

While you may not be able to tell whether you’re dealing with bedbugs or bat bugs without a doubt, the presence of bats in or around your home can be a clue. There’s a good possibility you’re dealing with bat bugs if you see bats roosting in or around your home. Even if the bats leave, the bat bugs will still remain as a pest in your home.

If a place does have bat bugs, make sure the technician takes precautions to account for any bats or guano that may be present in the area. Even if bed bugs are discovered, collaboration with a pest control specialist to develop a treatment strategy is needed. 

It’s been established that bat bugs are actual insects that people could come across in their home or business. But can they get diseases from bat bugs? And can they infest their home? Here are some important facts about bat bugs that everybody should know.

Related: How To Make Homemade Bed Bug Spray With Essential Oils


1. Are bat bugs dangerous?

Bat bugs can sound scary if you don’t have knowledge about them and their origin. However, this insect is not dangerous. When bat bugs can’t find bats to feed on, they will turn to other animals and even humans.

Even so, they do not constitute a health risk or transmit infections. Although bat bugs do not transfer disease-causing bacteria to humans, sensitive people may experience minor psychological distress like anxiety as a result of their bites.

The most typical symptom of a bat bug infestation is the pests’ itchy bites. Because bats are the principal host of parasitic insects, the presence of the flying mammals may be accompanied by bat bug infestations.

2. Can bat bugs bite humans?

As mentioned previously, bat bugs feed mainly on bats but this isn’t always the case. Bat bugs are most typically found in the roosts of bats, which are their major hosts. The host animals prefer to live in voids, cavities, and dark locations such as attics and cellars. 

3. How do you know if you have bat bugs?

Bat bugs prefer to hide in regions where bats roost higher than the ground level. They normally only come down to the ground level to feed, and then they return to their higher hiding places. They will not stay around beds or in other places where bed bugs are commonly found. As a result, discovering or detecting them can be challenging at times.

If you find oval-shaped brown bugs about the size of an apple seed crawling down a chimney or out of an attic, identify and confirm the species right away, especially if there are no bed bug indicators or history. Then, before it’s too late, schedule treatment as quickly as possible. 

4. Do bat bugs come out during the day?

The most usual time for bat bugs to emerge is at night, although it is not the only time. They are not true nocturnal creatures. During the day, bat bugs will emerge. In reality, they will come out anytime they believe they will find a meal, so people and animals alike should not expect to be bitten during the day.

5. Can bat bugs survive without bats?

Bat bugs can survive without their primary host because it’s not the only thing they feed on. Bat bugs are ectoparasites that are closely related to bed bugs. Bat bugs eat bats and their blood, but if there are no bats in the area, they will eat other creatures, including humans.

Bats bring them into homes looking for a place to hang out and relax, and they frequently wind up in voids, cavities, and dark locations such as attics and cellars. If the bat goes and a bat bug is left behind, the bat bug will spread throughout the house, looking for a new host to feed on. 

6. Do bat bugs lay eggs?

To mature and lay eggs, female bat bugs require a blood meal. Bat bugs conceal themselves by laying their eggs in crevices and on rough surfaces. The nymphs hatch after one to two weeks and are ready to feed.

To moult and grow, young bat bugs require food. It can take up to two months for an egg to mature into an adult, and numerous generations can occur within a year. Adults can go for up to a year or more without eating blood, depending on the circumstances.

Bat bugs can reproduce with speed. A small colony can produce several generations in a single year and can create major infestations. Adults can survive for up to a year or more without a blood meal, so even if people leave, they may not.

Bat bugs may lay a large number of eggs in a short amount of time and thrive. As a result, if left uncontrolled, the cost and duration of therapies will skyrocket over time. Finally, make sure your customers are aware of their treatment expectations. It’s very uncommon for bat bugs to reappear in living spaces following treatment for a few weeks until they’re gone for good.

Bat bug eradication necessitates a high level of knowledge and may also need the removal of bats, which are both harmful and protected in some countries. A professional pest control agency should be hired to deal with any bat bug or bat problem.