Are they bed bugs? Just the question is enough to drive some people into a panic. If you haven't been bitten yet, it can be hard to know for sure what the bug is and even harder to get into bed at night. Hey, I understand.

Before you freak out, know if you are dealing with bed bugs.

Even before you call the exterminator, you can eliminate some other commonly mistaken bugs. See photos of these critters in the gallery below.

How Do I Know It is a Bed Bug?

Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color, wingless, and about the size of an apple seed. They may appear tannish if they haven't eaten lately. They are football-shaped and they plump when they eat. Sorry, I know this is gross. Bed bugs usually come into your home on boxes, luggage, or shoes.

What Bugs Are Confused With Bed Bugs?

Cockroach Nymphs:

American cockroach nymphs -- baby cockroaches -- are about one-quarter of an inch in length. They change color as they grow, from a black-brown color to the reddish-brown color of adults. Cockroach nymphs have longer bodies than bed bugs with large antennae in the front and two spear-like cerci in the back. They don't bite people.

Carpet Beetles:

Carpet beetles do not bite, but they can give you bumps from an allergic rash. They have an oval, spotted shell, six spindly legs, and two antennae. There are wings beneath the shell. Bed bugs do not have wings. Beetles' heads face downward.

Spider Beetles:

Spider beetles could bite you, but they do not suck your blood and they are more interested in eating foodstuffs or your leather shoes. They have small, rounded bodies that are shiny and a dark blood-red color, the reason they are confused for beg bugs.


Fleas are small, flat-bodied, and dark brown. A fully-grown flea is around 3 mm long,  much smaller than a bed bug. They could bite a human and possibly trigger allergic reactions. Fleas are known as vectors that often carry infections through blood.


Both ticks and bedbugs are small, brown, and wingless with flat, oval-shaped bodies that balloon after a blood meal. There are big differences, though. Ticks aren't insects, they are arachnids, which means they have eight legs. Bedbugs are insects and have six legs. Tick bites could infect you with diseases like Lyme disease or spotted fever.

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