Bed bugs are tiny insects which feed on human and animal blood and using this blood they grow and reproduce. These are incapable of distinguishing between dirty and clean homes and can occupy beds/homes of anyone. These can also feed on animals such as cats, dogs and other pets.
These bugs are commonly found in areas where people sit, sleep or rest for longer time periods. Hungry bed bugs tend to move from their hiding places to reach out to humans through exposed skin. They mostly bite on hands, legs, arms, head and neck.
Adult bed bugs have oval shape, are flattened, brown in color and are wingless having size of 5 to 9 mm. They look much like wood tick. Once these bug takes in the blood, its color change from brown to red or purplish red. Also it becomes larger after feeding and develops cigar shape. Young bed bugs are smaller in size, generally 1.6mm in size at the time of first hatching and are almost colorless if they have not fed.
Here are some common bugs which look like bed bugs, these are erroneously assumed as such –
1. Spider Beetle: The size of adult spider beetle can range from 1.7 to 4 millimeters. Its color ranges from black to dark reddish- brown with a shiny round abdomen. They are in the shape and size of fleas, oval and are dark brown in color. Spider beetle feed on several things that are usually found in household pantries. They have a similar characteristic like bed bug that forage usually during night or bleak areas. Spider Beetle are also found in places like cracks, crevices, attics and within walls. Incidentally, these are not the blood suckers.
2. Cockroach Nymphs: Like all cockroaches, the cockroach nymph likes to live at the places having food, warmth and wetness. They usually hide in crevices and cracks, and are mostly active during night time while aggressively searching for water and food. Cockroach nymphs are big enough to be visible by human eye clearly but after hatching or molting they are white and later turn into reddish-brown. There’s a difference in the shape with cockroach nymph being cylindrical in shape and bed bug having a short, oval or apple-seed shape. Exposure to cockroach nymphs can cause asthma and therefore trigger asthma attacks.
3. Booklice: These are found in a variety of color ranging from gray to translucent white or brown. Booklice are found in furniture, wallpaper, on window sills and along the window edges or in the highly humid areas. They are much smaller in size than bed bugs and their size ranges from 1-1.5 mm. Booklice feed on cereals, pollen, fungi and pieces of dead insects.
4. Carpet Beetles: There are three common species namely: furniture carpet beetle, black carpet and common carnet. All these species are nearly 3 mm long and may cause harm to the furniture, fabric, clothing and carpeting which have natural animal fiber. Carpet Beetles prefer to live in rodent, insect and bird nests and can very easily enter indoors. The color of these bugs varies depending upon the type of specie. They do not bite but people who easily develop allergies can get welts on exposure to their tiny hairs.
5. Bat Bugs: These closely look similar to bed bugs and it becomes very hard to distinguish between bat bugs and bed bugs. The main difference which can help establish the difference between these two bugs is the fringe hair length on pronotum (a part of the body, just below the head of bug). Fringe hairs are longer in bat bugs than bed bugs. Like bed bugs, these creatures also derive nourishment from blood, mainly bat-blood and are mostly found in attics, bird or bat nests. In case when there’s no bird or bat in the surrounding, they tend to occupy places such as mattresses, bed posts; and they do have an inclination to bite humans. Bat bugs are also seen in places like the ceilings and these are some of the reasons that people erroneously confuse them with bed bugs.
6. Poultry bug: Also called the ‘Mexican chicken bug’, it bears a similar appearance like bed bug. They feed mainly on poultry areas and are parasites that thrive on eagles, hawks and turkey. On the other hand, bed bugs live on human blood but they also have a choice of feeding on animals.
7. Barn swallow bugs: They also bears resemblance to bed bugs and have almost same color and dimensions except that swallow bugs have long, soft hair. Barn swallow bugs live in cliff swallows’ nests and tend to shift in human live-ins when birds migrate. The summer season is often the breeding one for barn swallow bugs. They have the ability of surviving without the food for longer span by remaining semi dormant.