7 Common Bugs Mistaken For Bed Bugs

Everyone’s familiar with bed bugs – the tiny bugs that live in a bed, bite you when you’re sleeping and are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Whenever you see a bug in your bed or start to find some unexplainable bites on your body, that feeling of dread starts to set in. Don’t panic just yet. There are plenty of other insects that people commonly mistake for this tiny pest. Hopefully, your problem is something else entirely.

Bed bug bites are small, red, itchy and usually in a line. You’re most likely to find them in areas that are exposed when you’re sleeping, such as your shoulders and arms. They leave behind red marks on the mattress (small blood stains) and they can give off a strong, musty odor. You won’t always see an actual bug.
If this description doesn’t quite match up with what you’re experiencing, consider whether you might have one of these other pests instead.

1. Fleas

If you have a pet, you’re certainly familiar with fleas. These tiny bugs love to live on animals, but they can bite humans as well. The bite from a flea is not unlike one from a bed bug – it’s also small and itchy. However, flea bites are typically found around the ankles and are not in a straight line like a bed bug bite would be. The flea itself is a tiny black bug that jumps rather than walks. Even if you don’t have a pet, fleas can travel on your clothes or simply leave an annoying bite while visiting a friend.

2. Lice

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Most people think of lice as something that school children pass around. It’s definitely true that the unwanted pest is easy to pass from one child to the next, but they can also be around the home. Lice don’t live in just the hair, either. Body or pubic lice will leave bites all over the body, and even head lice can leave bites around the neck. Lice are very small and hard to see, but they typically have a red and brown spot on their backs. The eggs attach to hairs and look like a tiny clear ball. Lice are also difficult to get rid of, but identifying the bug can help with proper treatment.

3. Spider Beetles

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Image Credits: David

If you’ve seen an actual bug, there’s a good chance that it’s a spider beetle. These bugs are small and have a look that’s similar to that of an adult bed bug. They’re also more active at night, and love to hide in cracks and crevices. One thing that tends to be different about spider beetles is that they tend to prefer the kitchen or living room. Spider beetles eat plant-based foods rather than biting people. If you’re prone to snacking in bed, though, you might find them there too.

4. Ticks

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You might also mistake a tick for a bed bug since they’re both small and can have flat bodies. While they typically live outside, they can also make their way inside on animals, shoes or clothing. The biggest difference will come when they bite. While a bed bug will bite you in one place, then walk up your body to bite a new spot, ticks bury their heads in your body. A bed bug will be easy to brush away from your skin while the tick is attached. If you’ve been bitten by a tick, watch for signs of Lyme disease.

5. Mites

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Mites are tiny insects that typically live on other furry animals. However, they will turn to humans if their preferred food source disappears. In most cases, you won’t actually see the mites, but the bites they leave behind are similar to the bites from bed bugs, so you might think that’s what you’ve got. One major difference is that the bites themselves tend to be more painful. If you actually feel something pinch you as it bites, it’s probably not a bed bug.

6. Carpet Beetles

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Image Credits: Larah McElroy

Carpet beetles are small pests that like to eat on organic fibers – just the kind you might find in your bed. The bugs don’t actually bite people, but their contact with their skin can cause irritation that might be mistaken for a bite. One way to tell the difference between a rash from carpet beetles and a bite from a bed bug is that you should be able to see a small puncture wound from the bite.

7. Spiders

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If you woke up with a strange bite, there’s a much stronger chance that it was a spider than a bed bug. Spiders bite people when they’re disturbed, but that can happen if one lands on your bed while you’re sleeping. The spider might also bite you several times, which can make it look like something else. While both types of bites are itchy, spider bites tend to be bigger than bites that came from a bed bug. It will look more like a mosquito bite.

A bed bug infestation can be a serious problem, and you’ll need to treat it thoroughly to rid yourself of the bugs. However, it’s important to remember that a bug in the bed isn’t necessarily a bed bug. If you’re concerned about bugs, have a professional exterminator come to your home to identify the bug and come up with an effective treatment plan.

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