Since their very public resurgence a few years ago, bed bugs have held a top spot on many people's list of fears. After all, there's something undeniably creepy about a bug that lives on your blood while you sleep.
We all know that bed bugs are easy to get and difficult to eradicate. However, it's also tricky to know if you have them in the first place. Several types of bugs that look like bed bugs can throw you off.
Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs
You may know that bed bugs are tiny, reddish-brown bugs that are visible on your mattress. Be careful, though, because you may be seeing these other common pests that look similar to them instead.
Booklice aren't the same as head lice. Instead of your scalp, booklice are attracted to humid and moldy materials. That's how they earned their name: in the days before air conditioning, they were common to find in books that developed mildew.
Booklice look like baby bed bugs. They match a baby bed bug's small size and white color. If you think you've found a baby bed bug in a crevice near a window or door, it's probably a booklouse.
The only time booklice are dangerous is when they get into and contaminate your food. Still, that's enough of a reason for most homeowners to choose to evict them.
2. Carpet Beetles
Most people are more familiar with adult bed bugs than baby bed bugs, there there are plenty of pests that look like adult bed bugs. One lookalike nuisance is the carpet beetle.
A carpet beetle shares the size, overall shape, and color of a bed bug. The key difference is that carpet beetles have wings.
Carpet beetles feed on natural fibers in your home. This makes it especially tricky because if your mattress is made of natural fibers, carpet beetles could embrace it.
For most people, carpet beetles aren't harmful. They can trigger an allergic reaction in some people though, it's worth the effort to get rid of them if you have an infestation.
3. Spider Beetles
Spider beetles look even more like bed bugs than carpet beetles do. The key difference is the shape of their body.
Both of these bugs have bodies that are shaped like ovals, but a bed bug is flatter than a spider beetle. Think of a bed bug as being shaped like an apple seed while a spider beetle is more similar to the edible part of a peanut.
As with booklice, spider beetles don't pose a risk to your family unless they get into your food and contaminate it.
4. Wood Ticks
A wood tick is a well-known pest that feeds on humans we well as animals. They also happen to look like bed bugs.
While bed bugs and wood ticks both live on blood, they do it in different ways. Bed bugs will take a few bites and leave. Wood ticks stay in place until you remove the tick carefully.
In other words, if you see what looks like a bed bug stuck on your skin, it's probably a wood tick. You're also unlikely to find a wood tick in your bed because if they aren't on you, they're outdoors.
The good news with wood ticks is that they won't infest your home. If you spot one, it's usually a one-time problem.
5. Baby Cockroaches
When a cockroach first hatches, it's known as a nymph cockroach. These nymph cockroaches or baby cockroaches bear a stunning resemblance to bed bugs.
They even change color in the same way as bed bugs. They begin their lives being white and turn to reddish-brown soon after.
Like spider beetles, baby cockroaches have thicker bodies than bed bugs. However, finding out you have cockroaches instead of bed bugs isn't good news.
Cockroaches, especially small ones, are known for their ability to infest a home in secret. They're also known for being difficult to exterminate unless you call in a pest control professional.
6. Bat Bugs
Of all the bugs on this list, bat bugs are the ones that look the most similar to a bed bug. In most cases, the only way to know one from the other is to compare them under a microscope and compare the lengths of their tiny hairs.
True to their name, bat bugs tend to live on blood from bats. If you have bats in your attic or garage, there could be bat bugs hanging around too.
The problem comes when you get rid of the bats. The bat bugs may not go with them. When their usual food source is gone, they start feeding on blood from people and pets instead.
Fleas are among the most common modern pests, but they aren't always easy to spot.
Bed bugs and fleas look alike at a glance because they share the same size and general shape. Fleas are more of a true brown, however, compared to the reddish-brown tone of bed bugs.
Fleas also have more rounded bodies than bed bugs and they have more hairs on their bodies.
If you discover that your home has fleas instead of bed bugs, don't start celebrating yet. Fleas can cause skin irritation as well as respiratory symptoms, so they require treatment as bed bugs do.
Defining the Problem to Treat the Problem
Pest control shares a theme with so many other aspects of life: before you can solve a problem, you have to find out what the problem is.
Bed bugs are hard to diagnose with an untrained eye. Not only is the world full of lookalikes but because bed bugs are small and unpleasant, most homeowners get nothing but a glance at them.
If you think you have bed bugs or any of these bugs that look like bed bugs, call in a pest control professional to get to the root of the issue and get rid of your unwanted house guests.