Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs (But Aren’t)

It’s summertime, which means bed bug infestations are at their peak. People are traveling more, renting houses and visiting friends, which means bed bug transmission goes up and your health — and sanity — go down. 

However, another thing that’s common this time of year is confusing bed bugs for other lookalike bugs — and vice versa. In 2018, 84 percent of pest control professionals were called about a flea, cockroach or another pest problem before realizing the problem was actually … bed bugs. 

So if you’re reading this right now you may have just frantically Googled “bugs that look like bed bugs!” There are a few! Let’s review.

First, this is what a bed bug looks like:

Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. They’re long, reddish-brown and have wide, oval-shaped bodies. When they’re hungry, they’re flat. When they’ve just eaten, they’re fat and rounder. They don’t have wings and they don’t jump.

All right. Here are the lookalikes.


As we said earlier, many times pest control technicians are called for a flea infestation only to discover it’s a bed bug infestation.

Not only do fleas resemble the color and flat shape of bed bugs, they also leave itchy bumps on you when they bite you. That can lead to confusion when you start to see breakouts on your skin. But fleas do look quite a bit different from bed bugs. For one, they’ve got long legs and there’s no mistaking the jumping. They’re tiny but you can see them hopping all around.


Most people can spot a cockroach. They’re big and fast and lurk in the kitchen.

Cockroach nymphs, on the other hand, can closely resemble bed bugs.

Cockroach nymphs are baby cockroaches and they are found in places similar to bed bugs, like cracks and crevices. They’re tiny, about 3 millimeters long and reddish-brown. They’re less round than bed bugs, though, and have light striations across their bodies.


Another pest that feasts on human blood, ticks are round and tiny and flat when hungry and fat when full, just like bed bugs.

But ticks have a more distinct separation of color on their bodies, whereas bed bugs are one color throughout. Bed bugs also have distinct antennae and tend to be a bit bigger than ticks. We’re sure you’re aware of the dangerous diseases ticks carry and transmit, so if there’s any doubt about whether you’re facing a tick problem or a bed bug problem, it’s a good idea to give a call to Dixon Pest Services. We’ll help you identify -- and eliminate -- the problem.