Do You Really Have Bed Bugs, or Bed Bug Look-a-Likes?

If we had to pick the most feared pest in Cincinnati, it would probably be bed bugs. Sure, no one wants termites or rats—but when it comes to the pest that creeps out apartment dwellers and homeowners alike, it’s gotta be bed bugs.

For that reason, we get a number of calls from people worried their home has bed bugs. In many cases, they do. (Cincinnati is #8 in the country for bed bugs, after all.) But in other cases, what the homeowner found around their bed wasn’t bed bugs at all.

Today, we’re talking about bed bug look-a-likes. What pests get mistaken for bed bugs? What can you do to get rid of them? And what should you do if you suspect bed bugs?

Keep reading to find out.

Bed Bug Doppelgängers

Not too many people know exactly what bed bugs look like. (See the picture below.)

This little pest is easily mistaken for other insects, including bat bugs, carpet beetles, cockroach nymphs, and booklice.

Bat Bugs

Bat bugs look very, very similar to bed bugs. It usually takes a trained professional to tell the difference.

Adult bed bugs are oval, reddish-brown, and about ¼ inch in size. Bat bugs, however, are oval, dark brown, and slightly smaller than ¼ inch. Bed bugs also have longer hairs than a bat bug (though this takes a microscope to see).

Bed bugs feed on humans, while bat bugs feed on—you guessed it—bats. However, if bat bugs don’t have bats to feed on, they may turn to humans. In that case, if you recently rid your home of bats (for example), it’s possible you have bat bugs.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles look somewhat similar to bed bugs. They are the same size as bed bugs, but they are rounder, darker in color, and often appear speckled or striped. They also have wings. (Carpet beetle larvae are fuzzy and light brown.)

This pest doesn’t feed on humans. Instead, it feeds on carpet as well as blankets, coats, comforters, clothes, toys, and other items made of natural fibers.

Cockroach Nymphs

You’d probably never mistake an adult cockroach for a bed bug: cockroaches are much bigger. However, cockroach nymphs are sometimes confused for adult bed bugs, since they can be a similar size and brownish in color.


Booklice can be mistaken for bed bugs, especially bed bug nymphs. (Both are translucent white in color.) However, booklice are more elongated and less oval than bed bugs. They also have larger heads.

Eliminating Bed Bug Look-a-likes

The reason it’s so important to identify the pest infesting your home? Elimination methods are different for different pests. You don’t want to waste time and money on treatments that don’t work for the pest you have!

Here’s how treatment of bed bug look-a-likes is different from treatment of real bed bugs.

Bat Bugs

Bat bugs, fortunately, do not require the heavy-duty treatment that bed bugs do. Eliminating bat bugs generally comes down to getting rid of bats—and keeping them out. Bat bugs can’t reproduce and continue infesting your home without their food source (bats). Since bat bugs can go several months without feeding, it may take some time for them to die out.

To get rid of bats and bat bugs, it’s important to seal all entrances around the home where bats are entering. Any bats should be removed by a professional.

Carpet Beetles

Eliminating carpet beetles involves finding all infected items, then cleaning, laundering, and/or vacuuming them. Items that can’t be saved should be bagged (to discourage the spread of the beetles) and then thrown away. If necessary, insecticide sprays may be used on rugs and carpets as a supplement. (Note: do not apply insecticides to clothes or bedding.)

Cockroach Nymphs

Cockroach removal typically requires a two-pronged approach: good housekeeping and insecticides. Since cockroaches thrive in areas with a lot of food and moisture, it’s important to clean up spills, put pantry items in sealed containers, take out the garbage regularly, fix leaky pipes, etc. In addition, it’s usually necessary to use insecticides to completely eliminate an infestation.


Booklice do well in warm places with a lot of moisture. They feed on mold and funghi and are often found on damp cardboard boxes, book bindings, moldy pantry items, etc. Although they’re called booklice, they’re not actually lice. (They don’t bite people.) Getting rid of them involves solving moisture problems and removing infested items.

Suspect Bed Bugs?

If you find what looks like a bed bug, the first thing to do is get it identified. Don’t panic, and don’t apply any treatments yet. It’s possible that you have a different pest infestation. It’s also possible that you don’t have an infestation at all! That’s right—there’s a chance that only one stray bed bug made its way into your home.

When you suspect bed bugs, call a reputable, qualified pest control company for identification and inspection. A pest control expert can come to your home, identify the bug you found, and inspect your space for more pests.

Getting help from an expert can help you avoid wasted time and money!

Contact Us

Scherzinger Pest Control is happy to help with bed bug identification and treatment.

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our websiteFacebook, or Twitter.