10 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs But Aren’t

Bed bugs are year-round problems of hotels and even homes because they could easily attach themselves to fabrics and of course linens waiting for an unknowing victim to suck on their blood. And they lay hundreds of eggs on a one-time-big-time basis.

Eliminating them is not easy, especially because there are a handful of other bugs that look like them. In this post, we will cover some of the bugs that look like bed bugs. 

Related: Bugs that look like termites but aren’t

Facts about bed bugs

Before we completely misjudge bed bugs for many reasons, there are still unknown facts that we must know about bed bugs. To cover some of that, here are some facts about bed bugs that you should know about. 

  1. Bed bugs are pro bloodsuckers. They pierce the skin with their saliva, repressing blood clots, and sucks in blood without you even feeling it because they also push in some sort of anesthetic. 
  2. Unlike ticks and fleas, bed bugs are not vessels for infectious diseases. However, they can really give you itchy and nasty bites. 
  3. Bed bugs can thrive everywhere, not just in hotels. They are found in rural places but are three times higher in population in urban sprawls. 
  4. Bed bugs are resilient. They can survive being unfed for up to seven months and they can thrive in below freezing point temperatures and in very hot climates. 
  5. Behaviorally, bed bugs are like roaches. They are hidden during the daytime but will crawl in small holes and crevices at night. 
  6. Bed bugs have a methodical feeding pattern. Once they find you as a host, they will feed on you 5-10 times and at the same spot or adjacent spots in your skin before they find a new host to feed on. 
  7. Bed bugs lay microscopic eggs which is tricky because you would not know that you have an infestation if not for the molten egg cases that you will find when you clean. 
  8. They are ferocious bloodsuckers. Bed bugs can take in an amount of blood that is seven times their body size. 
  9. Fumigation and pesticides no longer work on bed bugs as they have developed a natural resistance for them through the years. If you intend to eliminate them, make a more concerted effort to do so. 
  10. Bed bugs only feed on live hosts which makes them picky bloodsuckers. 

10 bugs that look like bed bugs

1. Bed bug vs Bat bugs

Bed bug vs Bat bugs

If you pronounce bat bugs fast enough, they can sound like bed bugs but really, of all the other bugs that look like bed bugs, bat bugs have got to be the nearest look alike. They are as oval as bed bugs, as reddish-brown as bed bugs, and the same slender legs as bed bugs and do not fly even though they have underdeveloped wing pads, like bat bugs. 

The only difference between the two is that bat bugs have longer hairs by the antenna and bat bugs are just the size of apple seeds. The good thing about bat bugs is that they will never make an infestation in the home because they cannot thrive in homes. Their natural niche would be caves or anywhere where bats are regularly seen. 

The major concern is that they are known as bloodsuckers and when they run out of hosts where they come from, they could make it to your bed. While it is not proven that they will bite on humans, some individual testimonials report anxiety and insomnia as an after-effect of the bite. 

2. Bed bugs vs Spider beetles

Bed bugs vs Spider beetles

They are called as such because they look more like very small spiders than bed bugs. They have reddish-brown to black bodies and yellow or pale brown spots and legs.

They are 0.5-1.5 inches in size and sports an oval shape. They have slender and long antennae and their whole body is covered with bristled hairs. 

Unlike bed bugs, spider beetles can fly but like bed bugs, they have heads that are attached to their bodies. Like roach nymphs, they are found in unsanitary places and they can make an infestation.

They are also found where a stable source of food is present or around wood structures. Luckily, spider beetles do not bite. 

3. Bed bug vs Booklice

Bed bug vs Booklice

These pale-bodied, almost translucent bugs resemble termites more than bed bugs. They are 0.5 inches in size with a long, flat body shape.

It is unique for having a segmented body meaning that its body and head are separate so this one differentiates them from bed bugs. In some instances, booklice could fly too, a characteristic that bed bugs do not have. 

These bugs are very prone to dehydration that is why you would commonly find them in high humidity and damp locations like in libraries, where the old books are, hence, the name.

Booklice could also be seen under your bed and while they do not bite, they will certainly make you suffer from an asthma attack because when they die, their disintegrated bodies can be mixed with the dust. 

4. Bed bugs vs Cockroach Nymphs (Baby cockroaches)

Bed bugs vs Cockroach Nymphs (Baby cockroaches)

Roach nymphs are often confused for bed bugs because they have the same reddish-brown to dark brown color and the same flat and oval body, long and bristled legs, and a long antenna.

Since they do not have developed wings and are just half up to one and a half-inch in size, they look more like bed bugs. 

Cockroach nymphs thrive in moist and dark places like in your bathroom, kitchen, attic, and basements.

As such, they either come outside from the woods brought in when you pick your firewood or they have been infesting your home leaving eggs in the same moist and dark places they thrive in. 

They are fast runners, chewing on anything they can munch from papers to leftover foods. They do bite but in very, very rare instances. 

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5. Bed bugs vs Carpet beetles

Bed bugs vs Carpet beetles

This bug has quite a distinct color pattern with a red or orange base and white and yellow spots all around it. It is different from bed bugs because you cannot see its head at an aerial view with a short but prominent pair of antennae. It has an oval shape at 1/8 inches in length. 

Carpet beetles are typically found in the garden, among the flowers, and in fabrics too, especially carpets, hence, the name. They can be transported inside your home when you are putting in cut flowers from the garden. 

Unlike bed bugs, they can fly but only during the daytime. They do not bite but they may cause asthma attacks or dermatitis. 

6. Bed bugs vs Fleas

 Bed bugs vs Fleas

In terms of color, the reddish-brown fleas indeed have a striking resemblance with bed bugs. They have a flat and oval body and overall, the entire body is segmented. They are so small at only 1/3inch, with long, thin legs and small heads attached to the body. 

Fleas leech on animals, brought indoors by pets. It is good enough that they do not fly because they bite and their bite is very itchy. And since your pets are almost always outdoors and serve as hosts for fleas, the bug can be a vessel in transmitting various diseases. 

Related: Plants that repel fleas

7. Bed bugs vs Ticks

Bed bugs vs Ticks

Aside from being really small like bed bugs ticks are also biters/bloodsuckers like bed bugs. They have a segmented body composed of an oval shaped-body and a smaller head.

When they are unfed, their body becomes flat. They are small, not half an inch at maximum. While ticks have eight legs, bed bugs have six. 

Ticks, however, are more dangerous than bed bugs because they can transmit infectious diseases like ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and spotted fever. This is because ticks infest woodlands, weaving through tall grass, plants, and leaves or anywhere moist or shady.

They may attach to you in your casual walks or when your pets go outdoors. Ticks can be a serious problem when female ticks start to lay eggs in your home. 

Related: Plants that repel ticks

8. Bed bugs vs Swallow Bugs

Bed bugs vs Swallow Bugs

This one is related to bed bugs. They get their name for leeching on swallows who might be nesting on your home. When swallow hosts are not around, they would bite on any probable host including humans. 

They are similar to bed bugs in terms of their reddish-brown and dark brown color. Although smaller in size than bed bugs, they have longer and hairier legs and antennae. Like all the other bloodsucking insects featured here, their bodies become flat when they are underfed. 

Swallow bugs like their swallow hosts are generally migratory. You can find them nesting in the hinges or overhangs of your home and even outdoors, particularly in the mud. 

9. Bed bugs vs Head Lice

Bed bugs vs Head Lice

Itchy spots in the head and other parts of the body may be caused by head lice and not just bed bugs. While they are often confused with each other, you have to note that head lice are smaller than bed bugs and have a distinct red line running along its back. 

Unlike ticks and bed bugs, head lice feed on specific hosts making them non-transferable. They are 1/8inch in size, an elongated but flat body, and small legs. Head lice cannot fly or jump and they usually niche in the head area and by the ears. 

Related: Does Hair Dye Kill Lice?

10. Bed bugs vs Mites

Bed bugs vs Mites

It is often improbable to compare mites with bed bugs because they are so minute, they cannot be seen fully by the naked eye. They are just at around 2mm in length, with an unsegmented body and like an arachnid, they have eight legs. 

Most mite species live on animals but the rest are practically everywhere and fed on everything. They can be found in decaying organic matter. They can also be very dangerous since they can easily get passage through their host’s ear and they might inhabit the internal organs of the host. 

FAQs

Aside from the ten bugs that resemble bed bugs along with their distinct behaviors, resemblances, and stark differences, there is other important information about them that you should know about. As such, here are some FAQs about bugs that look like bed bugs. 

What can be mistaken for bed bug bites?

Aside from mistaking bed bugs with other bed bugs, there are also misdiagnosed conditions that seem to look like bed bug bites too. If you are not very familiar with this, then it is good to just know a handful of them like the most common ones:

  • Hives: reddish and itchy skin bumps caused by an allergic reaction and bites from other insects/bugs
  • Fungal infection: This type of condition always targets moist areas in the body like the genitals, the feet, and even under the breast area. They can start with itchy rashes. 
  • Miliaria: It is also fondly called a heat rush caused by inflammation due to problems in the sweat duct. It is considered a common condition usually experienced by small children in humid climates (tropical countries). 
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis: This one is pretty serious although it starts with an itchy, bumpy rash. It is an auto-immune skin condition causing blisters after the rash. Most of those who contract the skin condition has an underlying illness called celiac disease. This condition attacks the buttocks, elbows, knees, the scalp, and the lower back. 

What do bed bugs look like to the human eye?

When unfed, bed bugs will be too small and flat to even be visible with the naked eye. Baby bed bugs are more minute and ants will be easier to spot in your bed. They are pale yellow, almost translucent. They only grow to the size of an apple seed in adulthood. 

So honestly, if you are asking about what they look like, you are better off with just knowing the signs that they are there. For example, if you see reddish-brown stains in your mattress or if you see some reddish, itchy bumps in your skin, you can say that you have been ‘mingling’ with bed bugs all this time. 

What is biting me at night not bed bugs?

Bed bugs are used to being tagged as the culprits every time you find itchy bumps in the morning but maybe, you have to rethink once in a while and find for other probable bugs that might be masked culprits too. 

So aside from bed bugs, the following could also be biting you at night:

  • Mosquitoes: they usually attack you and do the biting at dawn, dusk, and during the night. They will also be mostly around during warm nights. Like bed bug bites, mosquito bites start as a reddish itch that will develop into a bump after. 
  • Bat bugs: while their bites are very rare, they could grace into your home when their host bats are not around. 
  • Mites: Take note of that itchy, capsule-shaped bites in the morning because surely, mites hosting on rodents and birds are the culprit behind those red bumps. 
  • Fleas: Fleas can easily jump from one host to another. When you sleep with your pets near you when you sleep at night, the fleas can bite you at night. Their bites are like bed bugs, only smaller and harder. Unlike bed bugs and mosquito bites, flea bites have a red nucleus. 

Related: Plants that repel mosquitoes

Can you ever really get rid of bed bugs?

There are debates surrounding this question but yes, you can completely eliminate bed bugs in your home and it comes with a meticulous process. 

The first step is to apply first aid by stopping them from spreading. You can do this by regularly vacuuming carpets, your linen and mattresses, and other probable niches. It might also be best to just let go of unneeded furniture. 

The next intervention is through heating. While it is said that bed bugs could survive even at 122 degrees, baby bed bugs will easily be killed off with very high temperatures. Steaming cracks and crevices is also a part of this intervention. 

After heating, bring on some insecticides. You can use boric acid, diatomaceous earth, or silica gel to kill off the bed bugs. These substances shrink the bug’s exoskeleton so apply them generously in small cracks, holes, and crevices. 

If none of these does the trick, you should start enlisting some professional help. They will help you in best determining the right course of action to completely eliminate the bed bug infestation and can give you a course through about the things that you have to do and maintain afterward so that infestation will not happen again. 

Conclusion

Bed bugs may be nasty bloodsuckers but it is not all that there is when it comes to these critters. There are other bugs or insects out there that do the same thing, look like bed bugs, and even share key behaviors like how they leave those bite marks on your skin. 

Some make rare appearances like bat bugs and swallow bugs and others are more common like mites, fleas, and spider bugs. Some are also more dangerous than others and this includes ticks which can feast on your internal organs when they find a passage through the ear.

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