5 bugs that look like bed bugs (black bugs & more often mistaken!)

When it comes to bugs, most of us are outright disgusted by them. Even if you happen to be one of the few oddballs fascinated by strange-looking bugs in their backyard, you wouldn’t want them around for too long. Ultimately, we all find ways to swat them away. Seeing an odd-appearing critter every once in a while isn’t a big deal. But if you start seeing little bugs over your sheets and mattress all the time, you might have a problem. 

bed bugs on white cloth

With over nine hundred thousand bugs worldwide, it can be challenging to identify what sort are sleeping on your bed with you. Unless you’re an entomologist, you might need some serious help determining if you have a bed bug problem or not. Read on to find out what sort of bugs resemble these pesky little creatures! 

Here are the 5 bugs that look like bed bugs and are often mistaken for them:

  • Weevils
  • Carpet beetle
  • Spider beetles
  • Baby German cockroaches
  • Ticks

Tiny bugs are crawling on me.

Have you noticed bug bites on our arms, neck, and back? Pesky critters may cause these itchy bumps. You might notice these tiny bugs crawling on your bed frame mattress and sheets. These brown bugs hunt for blood, so start your extermination as soon as possible!

What do bed bugs look like up close on a mattress?

person looking for bed bugs

Random bites on your arms and legs aren’t enough indicators of a bed bug infestation. You should grab a flashlight and examine your mattress closely. But what are you even looking at? Several bugs look incredibly similar to the culprit on the run. The least you should know is what the insect looks like during the different developmental stages of its pesky little life. 

Adult bed bugs will usually be the first things to catch your eye since they’re slightly bigger and more prominent than their eggs and baby crawlers. They’re the size of an apple seed and usually reddish-brown if they’ve just had a big meal, aka you. Their body is oval and sort of flat, unlike when they’re full of blood. The good thing is they don’t have wings, so they can’t fly away when you try to kill them. Instead of wings, they have antennas and six legs. 

Usually, you can find adult bed bugs on the headboard, mattress, and even the box spring, 

bed bugs

What do baby bed bugs look like?

If you have sharp eyesight, you might just be able to spot nymphs, bed bug eggs, and adult ones. Nymphs are a translucent tan color, which is what truly makes them difficult to spot. 

They’re barely the size of a sesame seed. But once they feed on blood, they turn bright red and slightly more prominent to the eye. Their minuscule size helps them hide and makes their infestation inside challenging to eradicate. 

Ticks that look like bed bugs

Bed bugs and ticks share a lot of similarities, like the fact that they’re both unwanted guests. Both creepy crawlers undoubtedly look the same if you’re scared of bugs and jumping up and down in fear. But if you stay still and look closer, you’ll see they’re pretty different. Here are all the ways they’re different:

Legs

For starters, ticks have eight legs. However, bed bugs have six. Since they’re insects, they usually have three pairs of tiny legs branching out from the middle of their body. Ticks (scientifically known as Ixodidae) are arachnids, just like spiders! Their legs branch out from the head and chest, which are usually connected together. 

Their habitat

Just as we mentioned before, these creepy crawlers can’t fly. It forces them to stay close to their host so their food source is conveniently nearby. Bed bugs look for any soft and warm place where humans like to rest. It includes couches, carpets, beds, and even your favorite fluffy rug. 

On the flip side, ticks like to stay outdoors in grass and even piles of leaves. You will also find them in any wooded area where they wait for a host to walk by. Once they lock their target, they climb on them and suck on their blood like a smoothie. Generally, they don’t multiply quickly or even live indoors with humans. 

Disease-transmission

The horrifying creatures cause discomfort and itchy bites but don’t spread any disease. Ticks aren’t like bed bugs in their regard. In fact, one of the most common diseases they spread is Lyme disease. They can also cause diseases like:

  • tularemia
  • anaplasmosis
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • and ehrlichiosis.

Host preference

We all know that these critters like to feast on humans. But ticks prefer other warm-blooded animals such as:

deer, dogs, rodents, and sometimes even birds.

They only bite humans as a last resort. 

Black bugs that look like bed bugs

Weevils

There aren’t many black bugs that you can confuse with bed bugs since they’re distinctly reddish-brown for most of their life cycle. The only black-colored bug that can seem like the culprit you’re searching for is the weevil. These pests can be reddish brown or black and are usually found in:

  • kitchens
  • pantries
  • and even bathrooms. 

Weevils and bed bugs are quite different in terms of body shape. The pesky critters are more oval, while weevils are oblong-shaped. Moreover, weevils can fly and even have a visible snout in the front. 

Bugs that look like bed bugsSize
Weevils3-10mm
Carpet beetle1/8 to 3/16 inch long
Spider beetles1.5 to 3.5 millimeters
Baby German cockroachesone-eighth of an inch long
Ticksthe size of an apple seed

Beetles that look like bed bugs

Carpet beetle

Another insect that bed bugs are confused with is carpet beetles, which are as common as their resembling counterparts.

For a moment, the carpet beetle and the bed bug might look similar. But you’ll notice that adult pests are slightly larger than them.

When it comes to the carpet beetle and its appearance, it can vary greatly. Some are black, brown, and even a mix of yellow and white. On the contrary, your culprit is always distinctly brownish-red due to their diet. 

Speaking of diet, the wicked insects like to consume blood. In contrast, cartel beetles exclusively feed on fibers such as:

  • wool
  • felt
  • fur
  • silk
  • feathers
  • and even leather.

The carpet beetle doesn’t have a mouth designed for biting humans or anything other than fibers. Since humans are fond of wearing different fabrics, you might attract a few carpet beetles.

Even though carpet beetles don’t bite, some people might have an allergic reaction when their larva comes in contact. Their larvae have hairs on the body that can cause a rash that resembles a bite. 

Spider beetles

An untrained eye might even confuse the American beetle with a bed bug. These beetles have long legs and small abdomens, making them look like a spider and beetle’s love child. The most significant difference between the two is their size. Spider beetles are only 1 to 3 mm, whereas these pesky creatures can reach up to 5 mm. Spider beetles also have rounder bodies with legs much larger than their abdomens. 

If you find a spider beetle in your house, it’s time to clean out your pantry and plants because that’s what they like to eat. 

Bugs that look like bed bugsAre they dangerous?
WeevilsThey do not harm people, pets, or property
Carpet beetleNo
Spider beetlesThey bite, but they’re not dangerous
Baby German cockroachesThey are a health hazard
TicksTicks are potentially dangerous.

Cockroaches that look like bed bugs

Baby German cockroaches

Bed bugs are nothing special, which is why they resemble almost every other bug. Another common pest is the German cockroach. Both insects have similar colors and build, mainly because baby cockroaches greatly resemble nymphs. 

If you look closely, you’ll realize that young cockroaches have two tiny prongs at the end of their bodies. It’s the easiest way to tell the two insects apart. 

Bites that look like bed bugs but aren’t

Bed bugs aren’t the only ones who like to munch on humans. On top of that, about 75-85% of bugs are nocturnal. It just leads to more confusion regarding the bites on your body. Is it the pesky insect crawling on your bed or a different yet equally annoying bug? Here are some bites and bumps that resemble a bed bug’s bite. 

Flea bites

Fleas don’t usually bite humans, but your chances of getting bitten increase if you have a pet at home. Flea bites and bed bugs bite in clusters or in a line. However, fleas usually go for lower body parts such as feet and knees. You’ll notice when these pesky critters bite. It’s much higher on the body. 

Mosquito bites

Before you assume a bed bug causes a bite, keep mosquitoes in mind since their bites are similar and equally itchy. A mosquito bite is usually a red bump that looks like pimples at times. Generally, mosquitoes bite in a very sporadic manner. Their bites will be spread all over your limbs. On the other hand, the horrifying creatures bite in clusters in one area. 

Mites bite

Mites are very small insects that leave behind inflamed bites. Though they might resemble a bed bug bite, a mite doesn’t puncture the skin like these sneaky pests. Sometimes, a mite bite can cause a rash or swollen skin. It depends on the person’s reaction. 

Spider bites

Most people would rather get bitten by bed bugs than a spider unless they’ve always wanted to turn into the new spiderman. Some spider bites are venomous, such as a black widow or a brown recluse. However, most species found in homes aren’t too dangerous. Unlike these horrifying creatures, spiders only leave one bite and only when they’re threatened. 

A spider bite can swell up to a reddish, itchy bump. If you start to feel nauseous or feverish along with the bite, it’s better to call a doctor just in case. 

Bed Bugs Underside

At this point, we’re aware of what bed bugs look like from the top and even what’s inside them. But what do they look like from the bottom? Since they’re tiny, their body parts are difficult to distinguish. Either way, you’ll notice something peculiar if you look at the underside of the pesky creatures. With their bodies divided into three distinguishable segments, you’ll notice the legs poking out of their abdomen. If they’ve just fed, you’ll even be able to see where that blood is stored. 

What do bugs look like, and which are often mistaken for bed bugs?

bed bug in petri dish

They are sneaky critters that are difficult to identify. They’re often confused with other bugs that like to live alongside humans. But before we get into the specific details of why bed bugs are confused with every other dark-colored critter, let’s try to understand the anatomy of a bug. 

Since these conniving critters fall under the category of true bugs, they tend to be slightly different from traditional insects. With a body segmented into three parts, it’s no surprise that all true bugs look the same. Unlike their cousins, they lack a regular pair of wings. Most true bugs have wings, but either they’re toughened or forming part of a membrane. However, these horrifying creatures lack a pair altogether.

Adult bed bugs are wingless and oval-shaped creatures with a pair of antennae and six legs. They may not have a peculiar appearance, but that’s why every other insect resembles them. Even if you spent years studying the anatomy of bugs, it would take you a minute to separate the pesky critter from any other round and dark-colored critter. Especially when it comes to spiders, carpet beetles, booklice, fleas, and mites, you need to double-check.    

Spider beetles vs. bed bugs

adult bed bug

Spider beetles and bed bugs look so similar that you think they’re related, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The most significant difference is that spider beetles eat anything but blood. Their food choices are:

  • silk
  • wheat
  • bread
  • flour
  • and even beans.

That’s also why spider beetles are usually found in:

  • pantries
  • kitchens
  • and food storage spaces. 

Spider beetles are smaller than bed bugs, sizing up to only 1.5 -3 mm. At the same time, bed bugs are about 5-7 mm long. 

bed bug hanging on to paper

What kills bed bugs instantly? Try this spray

Harris bed bug kit

Harris Killer Spray

Once you’ve identified that the pests in your house are bed bugs, it’s time to get rid of them as soon as you can. Thankfully, the Harris spray does all the work for you. All you have to do is apply this wherever you think the little critters are hiding. It dries in just a few minutes and leaves no sort of odors or stains, which makes application on carpets and mattresses. 

On top of that, the spray’s effects last up to 7 to 10 days! In the beginning, you should use it regularly. Then you can increase the intervals to only 3-4 times a week. Most extermination processes require homeowners to empty the hours for a while. This spray is not only safe for humans but also for pets, except for aquatic life. 

Harris 
Item Weight1 pound
ManufacturerCentral Garden Distribution

Pros

  • It’s incredibly potent at killing bed bugs.
  • It works quickly.

Cons

  • Do not treat pillows.
  • You can’t use this without following the instructions carefully.
  • The pump can be a bit frustrating to operate.
Harris
6,635 Reviews
Harris
Check out this spray from Harris.

Formula 4 Bed Bug detergent

Bed bugs love to make a home out of your favorite sheets and pillowcases. The one solution to this is to use a pest detergent that will eliminate bed bugs, mites, and even fleas! Usually, it takes a very high temperature to kill these pesky critters. This washing powder kills those creatures at any temperature.  

To get rid of them, you must be quite patient and use multiple insecticide applications to kill them. You might have to use this detergent numerous times, but that’s no issue since it’s affordable too.

Pros

  • It smells great.

Cons

  • The bottle is a bit small for the price.
Formula 4 detergent
666 Reviews
Formula 4 detergent
This detergent helps get rid of your problem.

Do bed bugs die in the dryer or can they handle the heat?

If set on high, bed bugs can be killed in a household dryer. You need to put bug-infested items in the dryer for about 30 minutes to get rid of them. If bed bugs are exposed to temperatures 120 Fahrenheit or higher, they’ll die in a matter of minutes.

FAQs:

Are bed bugs red?

Yes, they appear reddish-brown after they’ve just had a bloody feast. Otherwise, they appear off-white with an oval and flat body. Generally, they’re the size of an apple seed and sometimes look like baby cockroaches. 

Do bed bugs have stripes?

The answer isn’t too definitive. A beg bug’s abdomen has black horizontal creases that make it seem like it has stripes. If you look closely at a recently-fed adult, these creases will be easier to see. But they aren’t very obvious unless you pay close attention.

How long do bed bug bites itch?

Generally, their bites heal over a week or two. To speed up the process, you can take an antihistamine or apply an over-the-counter steroid cream. Regardless of your medication, you must practice restraint more than anything else. 

Do bed bug bites leave scars?

Usually, bed bug bites don’t leave scars. If you scratch the bumps frequently, that might tear the skin and allow bacteria to enter. It could cause an infection. This infection can cause scarring and further damage to the skin. Therefore, you’ve to be extra cautious. Ensure you don’t cause more damage than the creepy crawler. 

Do bed bug bites spread when scratched?

No, bed bug bites don’t spread when scratched since they’re non-contagious. The only thing scratching the bite will do is tear the skin and let bacteria in. Constantly scratching the bites can make them worse and delay healing. We understand that momentary peace can be inviting, but scratching will only worsen things.