Do I have Bed Bugs or Bat Bugs?

So you’ve found a small bug in your house and not so soon after, the panic of a possible infestation sets in. The bug is small, reddish brown, and you’re really hoping it’s not a Bed Bug. Anything but a Bed Bug! The first thing you should do if you find yourself in a situation with insects in your home is to have it properly identified by a professional. This is especially important if you suspect Bed Bugs because there’s a high chance that you could actually have Bat Bugs. To the average person, the two can look indistinguishable.

How Do I Identify Bed Bugs vs Bat Bugs?

 Bed Bug vs Bat Bug identification

Photo credit University of Nebraska-Lincoln Entomology

It is very important to know what Bed Bugs look like. Adult bed Bugs can be seen with the naked eye. Adult Bed Bugs are reddish brown in color, wingless, and about the size of an apple seed. If an adult Bed Bug has not fed recently, it is approximately 3 ⁄16" long and oval in shape. In fact, an unfed Bed Bug can look like a flat disc. However, once it has a blood meal the body blows up like a balloon. Bat bugs are closely related to Bed Bugs, and are very similar in appearance. A distinguishing feature is that the fringe hairs on the upper covering of the thorax of the Bat Bug are as long or longer than the width of the eye. The fringe hairs of Bed Bugs are not as long. Bat bugs and Bed Bugs are in the family Cimicidae. As the name implies, the primary host of Bat Bugs is bats, whereas the primary host of Bed Bugs is humans. In the absence of a primary host, however, Bat Bugs will feed on humans given the opportunity. 

Behaviors of Bed Bugs and Bat Bugs

Bed Bug on hand

Photo Credit British Pest Control Association

When they are hungry, both bugs will travel to find a host. Bat bugs typically feed while the host is sleeping. The bug pierces the skin with extended mouthparts and injects saliva as it feeds on blood. Immature bugs only need to feed for a few minutes, whereas adults will feed for ten to fifteen minutes. They then crawl to a hiding place to digest their meal. Bed bugs also feed while their host is sleeping. Bed bugs feed every 5-7 days if a host is present. Since the presence of a host may become unreliable at any moment, bed bugs must be prepared to tolerate long periods without food. Bed bugs can go without a meal for up to six months, though pesticide resistance decreases how long they can survive. Surprisingly, a bed bug infestation can go unnoticed for months. This is because they hide in cracks and crevices around bed frames, headboards, box springs, and mattress seams.

Bat bugs are strangely found out in the open, walking about on furniture, along window sills, fireplaces, or on top of bed covers. Bat bugs are usually found on the top floor of homes and apartments because bats tend to roost higher up in attic spaces, chimneys, or decorative shutters.  After you’ve had a bat removed from your home it’s very important to completely disinfect the area in order to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Bat bugs can also enter living areas through cracks and gaps around vents, windows, light fixtures, attic doors, and ceiling fans. Our experts at Summit offer all of the bat services you need to get remove bats, disinfect the area, prevent pests, and restore your home. 

Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

Most people become suspicious of a Bed Bug infestation when they find unexplained bites on their bodies. Most commonly a person will go to bed feeling fine but wake up in the morning with itching bites. While bites might suggest Bed Bugs, they are not a good method for diagnosing a Bed Bug infestation. Be aware of the other signs that bed bugs leave behind: fecal spots, molted skins, and aggregations. Bed Bug fecal spots are black in color (not red

because the blood has already been digested) and are often seen in groups of 10 or more. However, if the bed bug was just passing through the area, there may be only one or two spots in a particular location. When the infestation is small, there are some places where fecal spots are more likely to be found: 

  • Along mattress seams and on the tag
  • On the wood frame of the box springs
  • Behind the headboard
  • Along the tops of baseboards or the edge of carpeting
  • Ceiling/wall junctions and behind pictures on the wall
  • Along electrical outlets

Bed Bug aggregations are not easy to identify if you don’t look closely. Bed bugs choose locations that are narrow and enclosed, and where there are already other bed bugs present. Here are some common places you might find these elusive groups of Bed Bugs:

  • On the seams of your mattress, in the tufts, under the mattress tags, or behind the headboard 
  • Inside the holes for set-in screws
  • Along wood creases inside box springs or in bed frames
  • Where the box springs fabric is stapled to the wood frame
  • Behind loose wallpaper, and chipped paint
  • Under the base of the air conditioner unit 
  • Beneath the wood framing that holds the bar in the closet 
  • Along the interior frame of closet doors 
  • Behind baseboards, or inside baseboard heaters 
  • Inside curtain rods, and on the curtains near the top where they are pleated 
  • In personal belongings, including books, stuffed animals, picture frames, and hundreds of other locations

Control measures for Bed Bugs and Bat Bugs

Control of bat bugs can be complicated because it relies on the control of both the bugs and their bat hosts. If the host bats are not removed and the area is not disinfected, bugs are likely to reappear. To remove bats from your home, you need to call a professional wildlife removal company like Summit. Not only is it dangerous to try to remove a bat in the attic by yourself, but it is also illegal to kill a bat. All bats are federally protected. It is best to contact a Wildlife Control Specialist, like Summit, to safely and humanely remove bats from chimneys, attics, churches, or any dwelling. 

Some preventative measures you can take for bed bugs are keeping your home clean, vacuuming often, changing sheets often, and inspecting for bed bugs. It is advised to wash pillows, mattresses, and bedding regularly and replace them after a certain number of years. When staying at a hotel, check the room and bedding for signs of bed bugs, and do not stay in a room where there are bed bugs.

Resolving your Bug Problem with Summit

There are various ways to get rid of bed bugs and bat bugs, but the best and most effective way is to hire a pest control company. Pest control companies have access to professional-grade chemicals which are more potent than what they offer on the market. Pest control management companies will only use chemicals if it becomes necessary and will use more environmentally friendly products. The first step is to identify the pest correctly and then evaluate strategies to control it. A pest control specialist will be able to determine a treatment plan during the initial inspection. Removing bugs from your home is not a simple feat. Typically it will take more than one treatment to get the infestation under control and it is best to treat the entire home in case the bugs have moved to different areas. Please give us a call to find out how we can provide you with the best pest control you've ever experienced.

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