Bed bugs are biting pests that live on human blood. These bugs typically live under beds, on mattresses or in furniture and come out at night to feed on unsuspecting victims. A variety of insects are similar in appearance to bed bugs, such as roaches and bat bugs. Heavy infestations of bed bugs often require a professional exterminator to eliminate the pests.
Bed bugs are rust-colored insects that are soft and flat. Similar to fleas and mosquitoes, bed bugs survive by feeding on the blood of animals or humans. After feeding, bed bugs become engorged with blood and are red in color. Bed bugs do not transmit diseases through biting, but the bite sites are often swollen, red and itchy. These pests are often transferred from place-to-place in suitcases, in backpacks or in used furniture. Bed bugs are inactive during the day, only coming out during the night to feed.
Several insects look similar to bed bugs. Small cockroaches are often mistaken for bed bugs, especially if they are found underneath beds or in dresser drawers. Some species of cockroaches such as Asian and brownbanded roaches are less than 5/8 inches in length. Unlike bed bugs, cockroaches do not bite humans. Bat bugs are similar to bed bugs and are also blood-sucking insects. These pests bite humans if animal hosts are not nearby. Bat bugs are small, flat, oval-shaped insects that reach 3/8 inches in length at maturity.
Cockroaches do not sting or bite humans, but like bed bugs they move around at night. These insects have been associated with diseases that are spread through their contact with food. Some people are allergic to cockroaches, becoming quite ill when they come into contact with them. Although bat bugs prefer to feed on bats, they will bite humans as a last resort. Many homes thought to be infested with bed bugs, actually have bat bugs instead. Like bed bugs, bat bugs feed on humans while they sleep, leaving bites that are large and itchy. Some people get infections in bite sites from scratching bat bug bites excessively.
Cockroaches can be prevented by proper sanitation methods. Never leave food out during the night, keep your doors and widows closed, caulk around cracks in window sills and door frames and inspect all grocery bags for signs of roaches. A variety of baits and sprays are available for cockroach control. Bat bugs typically live in buildings infested with bats. If the bats are removed, the bat bugs usually go with them. Insecticidal sprays may be necessary to eliminate bat bugs left in homes and buildings after bat removal. Repeat applications every two weeks until bugs are controlled.