If you believe that your home has fallen victim to a bed bug infestation, it may be time to conduct some research to make sure that the little critters really are bed bugs. Many people do not see bed bugs until after they have already started seeing other signs of infestation, such as tiny bite marks on their body. Unfortunately, bed bug bites share similar symptoms with several other types of insect bites, and there are a few other insects that look alike. Here are some of the bugs most commonly misdiagnosed as bed bugs.
If you are spending a lot of time itching and scratching, you may also notice little bumps and bite marks and assume that bed bugs are the source of your discomfort. While many people are familiar with head lice, they don’t realize that body lice and pubic lice can cause bites all over your body. Lice are also very small in size, and typically have a red section on their backs surrounded by brown. Without a close inspection, it is very easy to confuse the two, but it is important to know which is which so that you can begin treating the bites and the infestation effectively.
Ticks come in a variety of sizes and colors, but they do have a similar round shape to their bodies, and before they have fed they also appear flat. Many ticks are either completely red or brown, and their bites can cause a lot of irritation, as well as spreading disease.
The biggest differences between ticks and bed bugs are that ticks will burrow into your skin when they bite you, which will require action on your part to remove them. You must be extremely careful about how you remove the ticks to avoid leaving the tick’s head under your skin. Ticks will typically stick to areas of your body where there are creases in the skin such as armpits, or around your waistline or socks. They will stay attached for several days before disengaging when they have finished feeding.
Mites are a tiny insect typically thought to live on rodents and other small animals. However, mites can infect humans as well, especially if their hosts have been eradicated from the area. If you have recently dealt with a rodent infestation, or had another animal that was infected with mites in your home, they may have left a few mites behind.
Mites do not visually appear the same as bed bugs, however they are very small and their bites look very similar to that of bed bugs, although they are usually more painful. Mites will burrow under the skin and leave raised bumps where they have bitten. Unfortunately, you may not have a chance to see them in order to identify which is which.
4. Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles are another insect that will cause skin irritation, but not generally stick around to let you see them. Carpet beetles themselves do not bite, however their larvae are covered with a fuzzy coat which is what causes the offending marks. Most people experience some sort of allergic reaction when they come into contact with carpet beetle larvae and will assume that they are being bitten by bed bugs.
In addition, carpet beetle larvae will shed their skins as they grow, and these discarded casings look much like the shells of bed bug larvae. However, if you manage to catch sight of one, you will notice that they do not look like bed bugs at all.
If you are seeing signs of infestation, the hardest part of fighting it can be identifying which insects have moved in. There are a variety of glue traps and other ways to capture a few bugs. Once you have one or two to look at, you can begin by looking at the shape, size and color of the insects first. Keep in mind that all of these insects have multiple life stages, and will appear differently depending on their age. Plus, ticks and bed bugs also change in appearance after feeding as their bodies expand.
Determining the type of insect living in your home will ensure that you will choose the correct treatment method for eliminating the pests. Often times people choose an ineffective bug spray or try to fight the infestation on their own, and they end up making it worse by sending the bugs into other parts of their home, instead of actually killing and eliminating them.
Remember that if you are experiencing ongoing symptoms of bed bug infestation, it is best to have a professional come and diagnose the problem. Even if you are able to identify ticks or other insects, you cannot assume that you are safe yet. Many of these insects choose to live in similar environments, so you may be battling multiple different bugs without realizing it.