Ticks vs. Bed Bugs: The Big Difference
You never want to see a tick on your body or a bed bug in your home. And especially when it comes to the latter, seeing one usually means there are others around. On the surface, ticks and bed bugs might seem similar: They are both pests that like to bite and feed on blood. But in fact, there’s more than one difference between these two creatures
Animal class and physical appearance
When it comes to a tick vs. a bed bug, one main difference is the fact that ticks and bed bugs belong to completely different classes. Bed bugs, with their six legs, are insects; meanwhile, as larvae, ticks have six legs but when they mature into the nymph stage they have eight legs. Adults also have eight legs. This means that ticks are arachnids and are more closely related to spiders than to bed bugs. Another difference worth noting is that there are far fewer species of bed bugs than of ticks. The two main families of ticks are hard ticks and soft ticks. The difference between the two is mostly within the name: hard ticks have a plate on their back and soft ticks do not; the mouthparts for hard ticks can be seen from above and with soft ticks, they are not seen when looking down at them from above
Given the small size of both ticks and bed bugs, it’s understandable why the difference in the number of legs they have is an easy characteristic to overlook. After all, other aspects of their physical appearance are similar. Both pests are flat, wingless, oval shaped, and may be similar in color. Tick larvae in particular, can be easy to mistake for bed bugs because they have six legs and are similar in size to bed bug nymphs.
Behavior and feeding habitsAnother main difference between ticks and bed bugs is the feeding habits of both. Ticks and bed bugs are notable parasites. They feed on the blood of their hosts in order to live. Ticks hold onto their hosts with their mouthparts. This is why after removing one, their mouthpart may remain embedded at the site of the bite.
While ticks commonly feed on animals and sometimes humans, bed bugs almost exclusively prefer human hosts, but can bite animals when humans are unavailable to them. Bed bugs are most active at night, while ticks are active early in the morning and late at night. Finally, bed bugs may bite multiple places and in multiple locations during the night. Ticks bite once and remain connected to the location—unless they are removed—until they are satiated.
When it comes to identifying the differences in actual bite marks, things get a little more complicated. This is because not everyone reacts to bug bites in the same fashion. Some will react more strongly, while others might have no reaction at all. Ticks, as we mention, tend to remain attached in one location for the duration of their feeding. Both bites can be itchy.
Despite their name, bed bugs don’t just live in your bed. They can make themselves at home in any kind of crack and crevice of bed frames, upholstered furniture, walls, floors and even in library books.
On the other hand, you’ll most likely encounter a tick outside. While you might notice a tick on yourself or your pet indoors, more likely than not you picked it up outside. Ticks are often found in environments with tall grasses, shrubbery, and wooded areas.
Though people often seem to fear bed bugs more than they do ticks—bed bugs are famously difficult to eradicate after an infestation is established—bed bugs don’t pose as many major health risks as ticks. Bites from bed bugs may be itchy, site can be inflamed, and for some individuals a mild allergic reaction can occur.
However, bed bugs don’t spread diseases like ticks do. Ticks are perhaps most well-known for spreading Lyme disease, but they can also spread other diseases, like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If a tick is able to feed on its host, for as little as a single feeding, it could spread Lyme disease to its host. Each year, over 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Center for Disease Control.
To help people prevent ticks in the yard, the CDC has a helpful guide with landscaping techniques. While these techniques can’t guarantee you’ll never have a tick in your yard, they can help lessen the chances. Some of the tips include:
● Clearing tall grasses and brush
● Mowing the lawn and raking leaves frequently
● Keeping playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees To view more landscaping techniques to help prevent ticks in your yard, please visit the CDC’s website.
While neither ticks or bed bugs are remotely pleasant, the good news is that you don’t have to battle them alone. Contact a Terminix pest professional for best-in-class solutions to help deal with ticks or bed bugs.