Bed Bugs vs. Ticks

picture of a bed bug

Tick or Bed Bug?

While the differences between a bed bug and a tick can seem small, qualities like breeding habits, preferred habitats and the ability to spread diseases distinguish the two pests and make identification crucial. To deal with a tick or bed bug problem, the first steps are to correctly identify the pest and to find the source of the issue.

How to Identify Ticks vs. Bed Bugs

Appearance
Since ticks and bed bugs are wingless, oval-shaped, and somewhat flat, it can be tough to tell them apart. Upon close inspection, ticks have eight legs, while bed bugs have six. However, because the pests are small, this may not always be the best way to recognize them.

The easiest time for bed bug vs. tick identification is after the pests feed. Ticks full of blood inflate, making them easier to spot. Normally a reddish-brown color, bed bugs appear darker after a blood meal.

Natural Habitat
Bed bugs and ticks can’t jump or fly, so these pests hitch rides on people, pets, and objects to travel long distances. People and pets usually pick up ticks while walking in tall grass or other tick habitats. On the other hand, bed bugs often attach to luggage at infested hotels or hide inside secondhand furniture.

Infestation Size
The difference between ticks and bed bugs that becomes most obvious over time is their breeding habits. Because few species of ticks reproduce in homes, residents with mass numbers of pests indoors are likely not dealing with a tick problem. In contrast, bed bugs breed rapidly in bedrooms and living spaces.

Tick Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites

Identifying a tick bite vs. a bed bug bite by sight alone is difficult. Since bites often affect each person differently, the look or location of bumps on the skin is not a good way to determine the pest responsible. A much more dependable differentiation regarding bites is the fact that while ticks attach themselves to the skin of their host, bed bugs will take a blood meal and then retreat to their nesting site. Regardless, the results of these pests’ feeding can be serious and should not be taken for granted.

There are no scientifically proven diseases that are transmitted by bed bug bites to humans, though some people are allergic to the insects’ saliva. On the other hand, ticks carry a variety of illnesses, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis spotted fever, and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI). .

How to Handle an Infestation

Homeowners should act at the first sign of a tick or bed bug problem. DIY control may reduce the number of these pests, but a professional is often required to end an infestation. Call the trained technicians at Orkin to deal with ticks and bed bugs.