Bed Bugs vs. Other Pests (A Quick Comparison Guide)

Whether you've watched a news report recently, or you were lulled to sleep by the old adage as a kid...

("Don't let the bed bugs bite!")

You've probably heard of a these little guys before now.

Bed bugs are like thousands of little vampires—they wait until you fall asleep before crawling all over your exposed skin and taking a bug gulp of your blood for a few days' worth of food.

bed bugs vs other pests

So, what can you do to keep from becoming an all-eat feast for a bedbug?

Well, you need to be able to identify a bed bug and, more specifically, how they stack up against other teeny-tiny pests.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects which feed on the blood of humans and animals. They can live in both clean and dirty homes, public and private locations, and residences and businesses alike.

This little guys are extremely common, and their populations have actually increased in modern times because they grew resistant to common pesticides. Another main reason for the spread of bed bugs in the modern era is because humans travel more; unknowingly taking these bugs with them from place to place.

Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your bed bug problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

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Bed bugs are true insects with three body segments: a head, abdomen, and thorax. They have six legs, beady black eyes, and a pair of long antennae on their heads. They also have reddish-brown, oval bodies which become engorged after feeding.

Take a look at the video below to see the striking ways that a bed bug's body changes after drinking just one blood meal. 

Bed bugs are no larger than Abraham Lincoln's head on the penny, so they can be easy to miss.

However, as seen in the video, it's pretty easy to spot them as they're limping back to their hiding places, too full to properly scuttle off.

Read Also: 50+ more pictures of bed bugs and their eggs

Bed Bugs vs. Fleas

While bed bugs are between 5-7 millimeters long, fleas are much smaller at 1.5-3 millimeters. Fleas tend to be a darker shade of brown as well, and have more well-developed mouthparts for feeding.

The biggest clue between these two pests is their legs. Bed bugs have short, flat legs which stick out from the sides of their bodies. Fleas have extremely well-developed back legs used for jumping that make the rest of their legs look tiny in comparison. 

flea jump facts (1)

While bed bugs prefer humans, fleas can usually be found on pets like cats and dogs.

Read Also: 20+ pictures of fleas and their eggs

Bed Bugs vs. Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are slightly smaller than bed bugs, coming in at only 3 millimeters long.

They can be totally black, or speckled with brown, white, and red patches. Carpet beetles eat pollen and nectar, not blood. They also have oblong or rounded bodies with a crunchy exoskeleton and six small legs.

You can distinguish between bed bugs and carpet beetles by their body shape, color, size, and preferred food.

Bed Bugs vs. Bat Bugs

Bed bugs and bat bugs are, in fact, closely-related relatives. 

While bed bugs prefer to feed on the blood of humans, bat bugs prey on bats and are commonly found in homes with bat infestations.

From viewpoint of the casual observer, the two pests seem identical. With a microscope, however, you can see that bat bugs have longer hair, but that's about it. 

If you don't have a bat problem, you most likely have bed bugs. If bats are another box to check off on your pest control list, then the little bugs you find are most likely bat bugs.

Bed Bugs vs. Scabies

Scabies is the term for a skin-condition cause by burrowing human itch mites. The mites will den under the top layer of skin to live and feed, which causes skin irritation and patterns that look like raised tunnels.

Human itch mites are smaller than bed bugs and have 8 legs instead of 6.

Bed Bugs vs. Spiders

If you live in the United States, you have encountered these eight-legged creepers at some point! 

The easiest way to differentiate between bed bugs and spiders is to look at their bodies. Some differences:

  • 1. Spiders have 8 legs, while bed bugs have 6
  • Spiders have 2 body segments, while bed bugs have 3
  • Spiders have large, round abdomens and small heads - bed bugs are more proportional
  • Spiders produce silk for webbing, bed bugs do not
  • Spiders have 8 eyes, while bed bugs have 2

Bed Bugs vs. Lice

Many people confuse bed bugs with lice.

Lice are smaller and tend to be translucent white, yellow, or brown. They live in hair and cling to strands using the hooks on the ends of their feet. Take a look below at how lice cling to the strands of hair with their foot claws.  

Bed bugs will not stay attached to their host (preferring to feed and crawl back to their hiding places) and cannot grip hair. If you have bugs living on your head, they are most likely lice, not bed bugs at all.

Bed Bugs vs. Chiggers

Chiggers are a type of parasitic mite larvae which inject a digestive fluid into the skin of animals. This fluid causes cells to rupture, creating itchy, swollen patches.

Chiggers are smaller than bed bugs and have a warmer, redder hue to their skin. They prefer to attach themselves to other creatures rather than just feed and leave in the style of the bed bug.

Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your bed bug problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

(Process takes about 30 seconds)


Differentiating between common pests can be confusing, especially since they are so much smaller and more diverse than the naked eye can naturally process.

However, with the right knowledge, you can recognize these creatures and understand which ones you have on your hands. If you find a bug in your house (or on you), proper identification is important to find the best treatment. Using this guide, you can tell whether you are facing a bed bug infestation or something completely different.

Other Bed Bug Guides

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