Five Common Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs

Five Bugs Mistaken for Bed Bugs

“Is this a bed bug?”

Chances are you’ve probably heard this question before from your customers. It’s no secret that bed bug infestations are increasing in the United States. With more and more bed bug stories making headlines, anxiety levels are increasing. There are a number of bugs mistaken for bed bugs which could lead your customers to jump to conclusions and panic. It is very easy for the untrained eye to confuse bed bugs with other common pests, so we’ve put together a list of common bugs mistaken for bed bugs for you to share with your customers.

    Spider Beetle Mistaken for Bed Bugs

  1. Spider Beetle

    The adult spider beetle ranges from 1.5 – 4 millimeters. Its coloring ranges from a dark reddish-brown to black and has a shiny round abdomen, similar to the coloring of an adult bed bug. They’re known to feed on a variety of goods that are usually found in household pantries. Like bed bugs, they prefer to forage at night or in dark locations. They can also be found within walls, attics, cracks and crevices.

    Cockroach Nymphs Mistaken For Bed Bugs

  2. Cockroach Nymphs

    All cockroaches prefer to live where there is food, warmth and moisture. Just like adult cockroaches, cockroach nymphs hide in cracks and crevices and are most active at night, actively foraging for food and water. They can also be seen by the human eye, but are white immediately after hatching, eventually turning into a reddish-brown.

    Booklice Mistaken For Bed Bugs

  3. Booklice

    Adult booklice range in color from translucent white to gray or brown and can be found under wallpaper, in furniture and along the sides of windows or on window sills in areas where there is higher humidity. They’re much smaller than bed bugs, typically ranging from 1 to 1.5 millimeters. Their primary food sources are fungi, cereals, pollen and fragments of dead insects.

    Carpet Beetles Mistaken For Bed Bugs

  4. Carpet Beetles

    The three most common species of carpet beetles are the black carpet, common carpet and furniture carpet beetle. All species are roughly 3 millimeters in length and can damage fabric, furniture, carpeting and clothing that contain natural animal fibers. Their preferred habitat is within bird, rodent and insect nests, but they could easily be transported indoors. Depending on the species, their coloring can vary.

    Bat Bugs Mistaken For Bed Bugs

  5. Bat Bugs

    Bat bugs and bed bugs are very similar in appearance. A primary difference is the length of fringe hairs on the pronotum, a segment of the bug that’s just below its head. These hairs tend to be longer on bat bugs. Bat bugs also feed off of blood, primarily the blood of bats, and are commonly found in attics or near bird nests or bats. However, if birds or bats are eliminated, bat bugs may seek harborage in mattresses and bed frames and will bite humans. They’re commonly found on ceilings, leading some people to mistake them for bed bugs.

To better explain the anatomy of adult bed bugs, download our free guide to bed bug anatomy. You can also easily embed it onto your own website or blog by copying and pasting the code below it.

We offer a variety of bed bug control products and solutions to help pest management professionals combat bed bugs from every angle. To learn more about all of our products labeled for bed bug control, contact your FMC Market Specialist.

Have you ever had customers call you about bugs they’ve mistaken for bed bugs? Share your story below.

Photo credits: University of Florida IFAS Extension
Bat Bug photo credit: Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension

UPDATE: We would like to apologize for the initially improper credit citation for the bat bug photograph.The photograph is the property of Jeff Hahn of the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology.

  • JacobsDavid

    I am thankful to you to share the classification of bugs. Generally people gets confused with the bugs and bed bugs.

    business method patents

    • FMC Pest

      There are quite a few pests that look a lot like bed bugs. We’re glad you found it useful!

  • SuburbanExterminatin

    Would it be possible to re-post this article on our blog?

    • FMC Pest

      Hello! We’re glad you enjoyed the blog, but unfortunately we cannot allow exact content from our blogs to be reposted on other websites. We emailed you a more thorough explanation of why this is our policy.

  • Pingback: Identifying Bed Bugs | Long Island Pest Control Blog

  • Hada

    Wow this is so helpful! For about a year i’ve been finding these bugs that look just like bed bugs but I’m always confused why we’re not getting bitten and why the only place I see them is on one particular wall. Turns out that they must be bat bugs & the wall that I always see them on is connected to a small ledge which has an unreachable birds nest on it. Mystery solved! Thank goodness, this was confusing lol.

    • FMC Pest

      We’re so glad we could help! Many people have trouble identifying bed bugs, which is why we always recommend contacting a pest control professional when in doubt. Please let us know if we can help with anything else!

  • nolalou

    About 2 years ago i had a bad bed bug infestation, and the 1st sign was that I was getting bit at night, which I 1st thought was mosquitoes. Just last night I saw a small bug on my pillow, and thougt they might be back, but now im no so sure, since i have no bites nor does a houses guest in the next room. It looked most like the spider beetle in your photo, or maybe the bat beetle, thoght as far as I know i dont have any bats around.

    • FMC Pest

      Bed bugs can be very tricky to identify because they do look similar to several other insects. We recommend that if you suspect bed bugs are present, you contact a pest control professional as soon as possible to examine the area.

  • charlzroze

    I had some marks on my arm. So I suspected beg bugs. I looked on the cervix of my mattress and saw a bug, since I panicked, grabbed something off my dresser and squished it beyond recognition (before examining it).
    It was only one small bug, which left a small blood stain,
    I quickly examined the rest of the cervixes on my bed, under the mattress and didn’t see anything. I then took flashlight and didn’t find anything. In the morning looked round again and not finding any bugs Will be thoroughly searching today. MY QUESTIONS do bed bug stay in groups? Are they hard to find/see when inspecting mattress? My daughter has her own bedroom and doesn’t have any bite marks. Could my cats
    get bitten and start scratching? Thanks

    • FMC Pest

      These are all good questions! Bed bug behavior is complex and varied. During severe infestations of bed bugs, it’s not uncommon to find large colonies of bed bugs living in close proximity to each other, but it’s also not uncommon to find bed bugs alone. Though bed bugs are generally visible to the naked eye, they are adept at hiding in harborages and may be tucked away in a hiding spot when you are looking for them. Bed bugs in the nymph stage are very small and can be extremely difficult to spot with an untrained eye. Bed bugs can bite cats as well as people, but not everyone reacts to the bites. We highly recommend that you contact a pest management professional as soon as possible if you suspect an infestation. It’s easier to eradicate an infestation when it’s caught early, and a professional pest control technician will be able to assess your individual situation after seeing it firsthand. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Alyssa Johnston

    We first thought we had bed bugs then soon found out they were bat bugs and i was the only person out of four people getting bitten so we cleaned everything especially my room and checked everything but only found 1 adult bug so we thought we caught it at a good time but i week later i got more bites but no one in the house did anything about it. A week later i got no bites and figured maybe those last ones were from mosquitoes but then i got bit n found a small bug. The next day i found one in my room, again small. But thats all we found. And i read that they only bite at night but im getting bitten during the day mostly. Are we dealing with bat bugs? If so then why only me and why during the day?

    • FMC Pest

      Hi Alyssa, bed bugs can be very tricky to identify because they do look similar to several other insects. Bed bugs in the nymph stage are also very small and can be extremely difficult to spot with an untrained eye. We recommend that if you suspect bed bugs are present, you contact a pest control professional as soon as possible to examine the area.

  • Katie

    Tonight when I was lowering my daughters mattress, I lifted up the skirt of the crib and found a bug. After my husband got rid of the bug, he looked up online to see if it looked like a bed bug. It looked very similar to a bed bug. We did not keep the bug to examine it closer to see if it was a bed bug. She has not had any bites, we could not find anymore signs of other bugs etc. What should our next steps be? I cleaned the crib, took everything off and washed it, vacuumed the room, and checked all the other rooms. It seems odd that we would only find one bug. Is this possible?

    • FMC Pest

      Hi Katie, great question! We recommend that
      if you suspect bed bugs are present, you contact a pest control professional as
      soon as possible to examine the area. A professional eye is best to determine
      if more bed bugs are present. It’s easier to eradicate and control an
      infestation if it is caught early. Good luck!

  • mel

    I found this yesterday on my bed and want to make sure what it is . Please help roach or a bed bug ??

    • DNP


  • Idkyet Mckenna

    I found a grey bug on my chest when I woke up.are bedbugs grey?I’m panicking.I feel itchbut I think its from shaving.I can’t find any more bugs

  • Idkyet Mckenna

    Do you kill bedbugs on clothes by putting clothes in dryer for 30 minutes without washing

  • Promise Fulfilled

    Whew!!! Glad I read this. I was scared until now.

  • ian

    Found this last night, dead, on the floor by my bed. I searched my bed and found nothing. But as I live in NYC, I’m always on the lookout.

    I do have cockroaches in my apartment. Not sure if this is a cockroach though. (Have also had freakouts with Spider Beetles…)

    Any confirmation would be greatly appreciated.

  • brad

    I found a total of four bugs that look very close to a bat bug. Almost as big as a dime. I don’t have any bite marks. Two I found on the ceiling. One in my window pane. And oneon my porch. But I didn’t start seeing them till my neighbors moved out of my building, which is a old rental house. Tonight one crawed on my neck but didn’t bite. I killed it hut saw no blood . Should I be worried.

  • Kas

    found this today between the pages of my notebook. freaked out and checked the seams and sheets of my bed and my roommate’s bed. there’s nothing suspicious looking. is this a bed bug? (sorry for the poor photo quality; the bug has already been squished in the pic, so it was slightly darker when it was alive)


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