Five Common 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.

  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.


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