Is it a Bug, or is it a Bed Bug? Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs

While there are numerous bugs that may look like bed bugs, there’s only one way to tell for sure. Learn how to tell bed bugs apart from other pests.

bed bugs


Discovering a bug in your house is an unpleasant experience. Discovering an insect has been tucked into bed with you all night? That's enough to send a chill down your spine. It could be a one-time incident – or it could be a bed bug.

There are a number of other bugs that look like bed bugs, so how can you be sure this new intruder is a bed bug? There are a few things to look for.

What caused that bite?

Bite marks are one of the first red flags that prompt people to suspect a bug infestation. Even a small mosquito bite might be enough to send a diligent homeowner on a massive inquisition. But bite marks are bad indicators of the type of pest you are dealing with. Mosquitoes, spiders, fleas, bed bugs and even fruit flies, in rare cases, can leave behind itchy red bumps. Allergic reactions and high stress levels are also culprits for skin irritation.

What if I've got a bite and a bug?

So you think you've found your culprit? You've taken the prisoner of war and locked him up in a plastic sandwich bag (you should, this is useful evidence for a pest management professional). You are certain it is a bed bug, but is it? Or are you on a trail of bugs that look like bed bugs? Take a look at the following checkpoints:

What color is it?

Bed bug: copper-brown when mature, translucent white in nymph state
Black carpet beetle: black-brown
Book louse: colorless to gray/light brown
Spider beetle: red-brown
Flea: black to reddish-brown

What size is it?

Bed bug: 3/16 inch
Black carpet beetle: 1/8 - 1/16 inch
Book louse: 1/25 - 1/13 inch
Spider beetle: 1/16 - 3/16 inch
Flea: 1/8 inch

What shape is it?

Bed bug: oval, horizontally flat, prominent compound eyes, four-segmented antennae
Black carpet beetle: oval, tapered hairy bottom
Book louse: three body segments, ridged bottom
Spider beetle: two body segments, globe-shaped bottom
Flea: oval, vertically flat

Does it have wings?

Bed bug: hard to distinguish wing pads, can't fly
Black carpet beetle: yes
Book louse: no, or hard to distinguish wings, can't fly
Spider beetle: no
Flea: no, but it has the ability to jump

Does it bite?

Bed bug: yes
Black carpet beetle: no, but hair on body can cause allergic reaction and welts
Book louse: no
Spider beetle: no
Flea: yes

What is its food source?

Bed bug: blood (mostly human)
Black carpet beetle: fabrics, carpets, stored food
Book louse: fungi or mold
Spider beetle: seeds, whole grains, droppings
Flea: blood (mostly cats or dogs)

Is it a bed bug or a flea?

All of the above are bugs that look like bed bugs, but most of these bugs don't bite. If you have clear evidence of repeated bite marks, you might be able to eliminate the others and focus on the flea. Fleas are most commonly found on animals, but are not picky about their hosts and will feed on humans too. The difference between bed bugs and fleas is that bed bugs are shaped more like an apple seed and crawl. Fleas are much smaller and jump when disturbed.

Bed bugs can create high levels of stress and anxiety. If you suspect you have an infestation, it is best to contact a professional pest management company.



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