Telling the difference between a tick vs. a bed bug can be difficult. But Terminix is an expert on both pests and can identify and help get rid of them.

Tick vs. Bed Bug

Identifying a Tick vs. a Bed Bug

Tick vs. bed bug — are they all that different? If it’s small, brown and feeds on your blood, it could be a tick or bed bug. However, ticks are typically only a problem outside, while bed bugs can quickly infest the inside of your home. Additionally, unlike bed bugs, ticks can transmit disease pathogens when it comes to spreading disease. Knowing the difference between a tick and a bed bug can help you deal with each one appropriately. Below are some facts about both pests that will help you tell them apart.


Do bed bugs look like ticks? The answer is yes. From where humans stand, both parasites can look similar in size and shape before they feed. They are wingless, oval-shaped, brown in color and flat. One difference is that adult ticks have eight legs and bed bugs only have six. 

Once they engorge themselves with blood, ticks will be much larger in size and bed bugs will swell up as well as turn a darker color.


Ticks prefer to live outside near their natural hosts in wooded and grassy areas, bird nests or rat burrows. They can latch on to pets or humans and hitch a ride inside, but they do not infest structures. Bed bugs, on the other hand, get their name from the fact that they are often first found on or near beds. They prefer feeding on humans and will inhabit areas where they can easily find a host, such as behind baseboards, mattresses, wallpaper or even inside cars. Bed bugs are quick and will sneak into suitcases, shoes or boxes to get close to their food source.

Tick Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites

Both parasites can leave behind bite marks that may cause the skin to become irritated, swell or break out in rash. However, bed bug and tick bites aren’t always noticed right away. Often, both parasites will finish feeding and fall off without being detected. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can make the skin very itchy with a burning sensation. 

Although tick bites cause similar reactions, the reactions vary according to the people and their responses. Some people will have little to no reaction, while others may contract disease pathogens and experience a rash, fever, headaches and muscle aches. Additionally, some ticks can transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, tularemia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If you find a tick latched on to you, remove it quickly with a pair of pointed tweezers and drop the body in a container of rubbing alcohol

Tick and Bed Bug Prevention

The best way to avoid becoming a host to either parasite is to take preventative measures.

To help avoid getting bed bugs inside your home, you can:
Inspect and vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation.
Check your sheets and bedding for bloodspots, as that is a potential indicator of bed bugs. 
Wrap your suitcase in a large plastic bag whenever you stay in a hotel. 
Inspect any second-hand furniture for bed bugs before bringing them into the home.
• Consult a pest control specialist for a home inspection. 

To help avoid getting a tick latched on to your skin or your pets, you can:
Mow the lawn regularly to keep ticks from thriving in your yard.
Remove any debris, leaf or wood piles where ticks and their hosts can hide.
Avoid walking off paved trails into grassy or wooded areas.
Wear protective clothing when hiking, such as long sleeves and pants. 
Consult a pest control specialist about yard treatment. 

Terminix® has been in the pest control business for over 90 years — we know how to deal with ticks, bed bugs and other pests. Avoid an infestation by contacting Terminix today for a free inspection