Bat Bugs vs. Bed Bugs: How to Spot the Difference

Bat bugs and bed bugs are two common household pests that can be easily confused. While they may look alike, there are distinct differences between them in terms of appearance, habitat, and bite patterns. Being able to identify them correctly allows you to take appropriate action to get rid of an infestation. Here is a detailed guide on how to tell bat bugs and bed bugs apart.


Bat bugs and bed bugs are both small, flat, oval-shaped insects that feed on blood. They are reddish-brown in color and around 5mm in length when fully grown.


Bat bugs tend to be slightly larger than bed bugs. The average bat bug is 6mm in length while bed bugs grow up to 5mm. This minor size difference can be hard to discern with the naked eye. You would need a magnifying glass to properly compare their sizes side by side.


Bat bugs are typically darker brown or blackish in color compared to the reddish-brown hue of bed bugs. Bat bugs also have more distinguished banding on their body segments.

Body Shape

Bat bugs generally have a more elongated and flatter body shape than bed bugs. Their bodies are less rounded.


The legs of bat bugs are relatively thinner and longer than those of bed bugs.


Bat bugs and bed bugs occupy different habitats, though they may overlap at times.

Bat Bugs

As the name suggests, bat bugs live in close association with bats. They are commonly found in attics, wall voids, rafters, and other places where bats roost. Bat bugs feed primarily on bats but can bite humans if the bats leave the roost.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs live in human dwellings and nest near beds, furniture, and other resting areas. They feed on human blood, mostly attacking people during sleep. Bed bugs are better adapted at surviving indoors.

Bite Patterns

The feeding and biting habits of bat bugs and bed bugs also differ:


Bat bugs typically bite exposed areas of the body such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. Bed bugs mostly bite areas that are covered by clothes such as the torso, legs, and arms.

Bite Marks

Bat bug bites are smaller and less inflamed than bed bug welts. The small teeth marks left behind by bat bugs are also more defined.


Bat bugs generally come out to feed during the night when bats are active. Bed bugs, on the other hand, can bite at any time of the day or night when a human host is sedentary or asleep nearby.

How to Confirm Identification

If you find bugs in your home but are unsure whether they are bat bugs or bed bugs, you can take the following steps to confirm their identity:

  • Capture one of the bugs carefully using clear packing tape. This allows you to examine the insect more closely under a magnifying glass.
  • Look for key distinguishing features like color, leg shape, and body proportions. Measure the bug’s size as well if possible.
  • Note where in your home you tend to see the bugs. Bat bugs will mostly be along walls and ceilings whereas bed bugs concentrate near beds and couches.
  • Observe the bugs’ feeding patterns. Bat bugs come out when bats are flying at night. Bed bugs may bite anytime someone is stationary for an extended period.
  • Show the bug sample to a pest control professional. An experienced exterminator can accurately identify bat bugs and bed bugs.
  • If bats are present, inspect their roosts. Finding bugs near clusters of bats is a clear confirmation of bat bugs.

Treatment Options

Getting rid of bat bugs requires different measures than eliminating bed bugs. It is important to correctly diagnose the type of infestation before starting treatment.

Bat Bugs

To remove bat bugs, focus efforts on the bats themselves:

  • Seal openings in the building exterior where bats enter and exit. This cuts off the bugs’ food source.
  • Remove bat roosts and install one-way exclusion devices to prevent re-entry. Getting rid of the bats ensures the bat bugs eventually die off.
  • Clean and vacuum bat droppings, shed exoskeletons, and debris where the bats resided. This removes bugs and eggs.
  • Consider bat bug sprays and dust insecticides in attics and wall voids if necessary.

Bed Bugs

For bed bug elimination, concentrate on treating human sleeping and lounging areas:

  • Inspect beds, couches, and other furniture closely to find all bed bugs. Look in crevices, seams, and folds.
  • Apply residual bed bug sprays and dusts to hiding spots and travel routes. This kills off bugs on contact.
  • Encase mattresses and box springs in bed bug proof covers to trap and starve them.
  • Wash and heat treat bedding, clothes, and other fabrics to kill bed bugs and eggs.
  • Consider professional steam treatments, heat chambers, or fumigation to fully rid a severe infestation. Monitor regularly to ensure bed bugs do not return.

Correctly distinguishing between bat bugs and the similar looking bed bugs allows for proper treatment suited to eradicating each type of pest. If ever in doubt about an infestation in your home, have it evaluated by an experienced exterminator. Proper identification saves time, money, and frustration when dealing with these blood-sucking nuisances.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bat Bugs vs Bed Bugs

Can bat bugs bite humans?

Yes, bat bugs will bite humans if their preferred host bats are no longer available. However, they do not reproduce as effectively without bat blood.

What happens if you ignore bat bugs?

Ignoring bat bugs allows the infestation to persist and likely spread to other areas over time. It is best to exclude bats and use insecticides to eliminate bat bugs.

Do bat bugs come out during the day?

No, bat bugs remain inactive during daylight hours and come out at night when bats are flying and feeding. Bed bugs may bite during the day.

Can bat bugs live on beds and furniture?

While not common, bat bugs can infest beds, couches, and other human furniture as a secondary host if they cannot reach bats to feed on.

Do bat bug bites look like mosquito bites?

Bat bug bites resemble small red bumps similar to mosquito bites but tend to be clustered in a line pattern along exposed skin.

Can you bring bat bugs inside on clothing?

Yes, it is possible to transport bat bugs from an attic or other infested area on clothes, shoes, and bags if precautions aren’t taken.


Bat bugs and bed bugs share a close resemblance but have distinct characteristics and habits. Bat bugs prefer bats, come out when bats are active, and have slightly different body shapes and markings. Bed bugs focus on human hosts. Correct identification is the first step in addressing infestations properly through targeted treatments. Being able to tell bat bugs and bed bugs apart saves time, money, and frustration in ridding them from a home.

Key Takeaways

  • Bat bugs and bed bugs look very similar but have some key physical differences like body size, leg shape, and color.
  • Bat bugs are mostly found in attics and walls where bats roost. Bed bugs live in beds, furniture, and areas where humans sleep and lounge.
  • Bat bugs tend to bite exposed skin at night when bats are active. Bed bugs can bite any time of day when a person is sedentary nearby.
  • Properly identifying them allows for tailored treatments – excluding bats and insecticides for bat bugs, treating beds and furniture for bed bugs.
  • Capturing a sample insect, noting bite patterns and locations, and professional identification can help confirm what type of infestation you are dealing with.