Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the… bat bugs bite? A lot of us are probably familiar with bed bugs. They spread very easily from one person, pet, or furniture to another. Bed bugs are fast on the rise, especially since people traveling from one place to another has never been easier or faster.
A lot of people see a bug on their bed and immediately assume it’s a bed bug – and this can be a bad idea. For one, whatever it really is could be more dangerous than you realize. You could also try eliminating it using methods suitable for bed bugs – and if those fail (since in this scenario they’re not actually bed bugs) it could be a frustrating experience and you may end up suffering sleep loss, wondering if you’re really safe in your bed.
One of these commonly mistaken bugs are bat bugs. They belong to the same family as bed bugs (Cimicidae) and are quite similar, even almost identical. It is thought that their ancestor bugs lived with people and bats back when people were living in caves. When people started leaving these caves to dwell in shelters of their own construction, some of these bugs left with them while others stayed behind. Over time, they evolved into separate kinds of bugs that prey primarily on people and bats – bed bugs and bat bugs.
Bed bugs – they are about 5mm in size, and have oval bodies that are flat. After feeding, they appear inflated. They are mahogany in color and become red-brown after feeding.
Bat bugs – they are also about 5mm in size, with oval bodies that are flat. After feeding, they appear inflated. They are beige in color and become dark brown after feeding.
A key difference in how they look is that bat bugs are hairier, and that their hair strands are longer. However, you wouldn’t be able to see this unless under magnification.
Bed bugs – they prefer to stay near their host, so you’ll find them in mattresses, box-springs, headboards, or in the general vicinity. However, they are also able to travel an impressive 20 feet to go from their hiding place to their feeding area.
Bat bugs – you may also find bat bugs in the same places as bed bugs, however since their preferred hosts are bats, you’ll find them wherever bats may be roosting in your house. That typically means attics, unused chimneys, or wall voids.
Bed bugs – prefer human blood, but will feed on other mammals absent a human host.
Bat bugs – prefer bat blood, but will feed on humans (or other mammals) absent a bat host. However, it is thought that they are only able to reproduce after feeding on bat’s blood.
HOW DANGEROUS ARE THEY?
Bed bug bites are not considered dangerous but you will likely experience some degree of discomfort with inflammation and itchiness. Note that while they’re feeding, you’re likely not able to feel anything as they inject anesthetic into the bite wound. In rare cases, some people present no discomfort from bed bug bites at all.
Bat bug bites are similar to that of a bed bug’s and they are not known to transmit any diseases. However, if you have bat bugs then you likely have bats roosting in the area. Bats can carry bacteria and viruses which can be very harmful to people and their pets.
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?
Bed bug elimination is often a tedious process and involves disrupting their reproductive cycle. Learn more about bed bugs and what you can do about them on our Bed Bug Archives.
Bat bug elimination means you’ll have to get rid of any bats roosting in the area and disinfecting the area afterward. Be sure to seal possible entry points by sealing cracks and crevices and installing screens so they don’t come back.
OTHER SMALL BUGS THAT MAY BE MISTAKEN FOR BED BUGS
While bed bugs and bat bugs look very similar, a number of other small bugs may also be mistaken for bed bugs, including the following:
- Carpet beetles
- Cockroach nymphs
For any assistance with a pest infestation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a pest control company.