Are bed bugs and cockroaches related? Are they the same? Bed bugs vs cockroaches – What are their differences and similarities? Why are they attracted to my home?
We will answer all of these questions and more in the subheadings below.
If a roach infestation is not treated, it can quickly become the cause of lots of serious health problems and hygiene issues. Ignoring bed bug infestation can result in secondary skin infections, and serious allergies, and can also affect mental health.
But, in a battle of bed bugs vs roaches, it is not an easy decision to tell which one is more dangerous.
So, in this article, we will discuss everything you need to identify them and list other bugs that look like bed bug so that you can take the needed measures to rid your home of them.
What Is a Bed Bug?
Bed bugs feature a reddish-brown color and flattened oval shape. They are typically the size of poppy seeds independently of their age.
Baby bed bugs appear like adults but are lighter in color. On the head, their antennas are short and thick.
Bed bugs do have wing-like structures on their back but they are flightless.
What Is A Cockroach?
Mature cockroaches have large bodies of 1 – 2 inches long and you can spot them from a distance.
Their body color range from light tan, dark brown and even black. Their shape is flat or oval. Roaches own two long forward-pointing antennas. They do have wings on their back and can fly.
Bed Bugs vs Cockroaches
In this section, you’ll learn the similarities and differences between them, especially at a particular age so you can better identify them.
Cockroaches and bed bugs have teeth and can bite. But, bed bugs bite humans more often and are more aggressive than cockroaches. B.bugs bite leaves an itchy red mark on the skin.
Bed bugs are blood-sucking pests and depend on you to survive. When a bug comes in close contact with a human, it typically latches itself to the host with its teeth and sucks blood until they are round and full.
Cockroaches can bite, but will only bite humans on rare occasions. They are not blood-sucking insects and feed on dead skin, faeces, trash, and even food leftovers.
If roaches will find more accessible food sources they typically will not prey on humans. In case they will not find any other food source they might try to bite humans.
Runner or Fighter?
Roaches and bugs will generally try to avoid waking humans and often will run away during the day. Bed bugs and roaches will hide under things, in cracks, and try to avoid close contact with humans.
If you try to squash either of those bugs they will hide and avoid any fight. Bed bugs do not even have any capability to fight. They do not have sting or jaws just a feeding apparatus. It cannot be used to fight and attack humans.
Cockroaches do have jaws and would try to bite with them. Bed bugs are defenceless (their sting/jaw is simply a feeding apparatus). It cannot be used to attack or fight humans.
Cockroaches do have jaws and could try to nip you with them. It will not make much damage off course due to the size. In most cases, they would run away from humans and hide in a crack rather than put up a fight.
Can They Fly?
Roaches and bed bugs possess wings on their back. Each of those pests uses them differently. Bed bugs lack the ability to fly and travel from A to B by crawling. They live under a mattress and don’t need to fly to reach their target which is often you. Bugs do not fly because they do not like to leave the comfort their food source provides.
Cockroaches, on the other hand, can and will fly and sometimes glide through the air if they need to. Not a lot of people know that roaches can fly.
When roaches want to fly, they pull out wings under their hard body shell underneath and spreads the wings to glide away from you.
Roaches only fly when they REALLY see the need to and most of the time you’ll see them crawling around from one hiding space to another.
Night or Day?
Both bugs are night creatures and chances are, you won’t find them during the day. Bed bugs will feed during the night when people are sleeping in their beds. During the day they are busy digesting the blood sucked from you during the night, laying eggs or staying still in their hiding places. If you disturb them during the day, they will just run away and try to hide again.
Roaches are night bugs too. During the night when you are asleep, roaches will try to locate food sources without anyone disturbing them.
Roaches are most likely going to appear in your house during the day in comparison to bed bugs. They are nimble and quite fast for their size and are more confident they will avoid squashing and getting killed off by their legs. Roaches will show up during the day only if it is necessary and should stay in their hiding places.
Do They Spread Diseases?
Although bed bugs thrive well on human blood there really is no evidence that they spread diseases. However, itching from a bug bite might lead to intense scratching (depending on how sensitive your skin is).
It then can increase the chance of skin infection. Bed bugs are fond of surviving on one person or a couple who sleep in the same bed. They do not spread diseases too, or between humans.
Roaches have a higher tendency to carry diseases by the nature they feed and live in. Because they live close to the damp, sewer, trash bins, or dark places near the food sources, they can spread diseases such as dysentery, cholera, diarrhoea, or even typhoid fever.
Roach infestation can lead to allergies and asthma depending on the type of germs they pick up during their daily “dirty” routes.
Can Roaches Survive on Bed Bugs?
By nature, roaches are omnivores and scavengers. They are not picky eaters. They can eat anything including small insects, spiders, food waste, ants, or even other cockroaches.
Bed bugs are not the most preferred diet for cockroaches. However, if the roach is out to search for food and comes across a bed bug, especially a dead one it might eat it. You should not rely on cockroaches to get rid of bed bugs in your home (unless that is the only food source available to them).
Bed Bugs vs Baby Cockroaches
An adult cockroach will have no resemblance to a bed bug. But, a baby cockroach may look quite similar considering their color and size are almost the same.
If you see something run around, you might be wondering – Is it bed bugs or baby cockroaches?
This is because they do have a strong physical resemblance. Some homeowners fail to recognize baby roaches and think their homes are safe from cockroach infestation and that it is simply some other bug.
Baby roaches are typically seen in greyish or white color and are of size smaller than the bed bugs. On the other hand, bed bugs are reddish or brown and have flat oval-shaped bodies. But, because of their small size, it is super hard to identify which is which without a microscope.
In the bug world, cockroach nymphs are the only roaches that may look like bed bugs.
In any case, the best way to differentiate between a bed bug and a cockroach is through their antennae and eyes. Bed bugs have unique eyes that somehow stick out of the rest of the body and feature shorter antennae than that of a cockroach.
So, the simplest way to differentiate between a roach and a bed bug is through the length of their antennae and the shape of their eyes.
If the length of the antennae on a tiny crawling bug is small and has eyes sticking out of its body, then it’s mostly a bed bug and you might have a bad infestation of a bed bug.
However, if you see a similar bug crawling in your bedroom near your bed and have antennae as long as its body then it is a cockroach infestation and you may have a roach infestation.
Roach Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites
Roaches and bugs bite. However, the bite of bed bugs are more notorious for their bites and bite more often than any bug. This is because bed bugs are parasites and they feed on your blood to survive. Once they are done, their bites become red, itchy, swollen and very painful.
On the other hand, roaches do not bite much. They typically feed on scraps and throw out food, and not on blood. But will bite when there is no food available around and the only option is to check whether you are something eatable or not. But, if there is a garbage dump around, then they will always go for the dump rather than bite.
Effect of Bug Bites
The primary difference between a cockroach bite and a bed bug bite is the effect the bites cause. When bed bugs bite, they inject a salivary chemical compound that numbs the bite site, and you don’t feel their bites at all. This allows them to feed comfortably without disturbing you.
But, after some time, your body’s histamine process is triggered, and the bites become red, swollen, and itchy. If there is a significantly large bed bug infestation, then you may end up having dozens of bites in a single night.
Whereas, roaches are not used to feeding on other animals or blood, so you can feel their bites as soon as it lands on you. Like bugs, their bites too swell up and begin to itch. In any case, both types of bites can get infected when the wound is scratched and opens up, but the roach bites are more likely to get infected because of their unhygienic lifestyle.
Treatment for Bites
Firstly, NEVER scratch a cockroach bite site. Roach nibbles can get really itchy and scratching it will only open the wound, increasing the risk of germ transmission and allergies. The next step is to wash the affected area around the bite with soapy water. This will kill any bacteria, germs, and allergens left behind by the roach.
Once that is completed, you can proceed to apply ice to relieve itchiness and swelling. Apart from using ice, rubbing onion on the bitten area is also considered an effective solution. Optionally, baking soda paste or alcohol can be applied to wounds to reduce inflammation.
Bed bug bites are not generally harmful but they can be itchy and the bite often turns red and swollen. They also do not spread any harmful infections or diseases. But, in rare cases, they do become infected and can even cause an allergic reaction.
In most cases, bed bug bites get better in one or two weeks. But, if you want immediate relief from bites, you can also use calamine lotions or an anti-itch cream applied directly on the bites. In any case, you should prevent scratching the bite areas and wash them with water and soap to rid you of any upcoming allergies.
In rare cases, the bites from bed bugs can lead to a serious infection known as cellulitis. If such happens, the bites can lead to some other serious allergic reaction. We recommend seeing your doctor immediately.
Bugs That Look Like Bed bugs or Cockroaches
You may be experiencing some uncertainty when it comes to recognizing what kind of bug you have found at your home. There are many species of insects that appear like bed bugs or roaches at a certain point in their life.
Adult roaches have no resemblance to bed bugs but baby roaches do.
However, baby roaches will hide in crevices and cracks closer to the water and food sources. They will be around dark spaces, and damp areas near trash cans and sewers. Bed bugs as the name implies are often living on the mattresses – closer to humans.
Cockroach nymphs appear white right after molting or hatching. They will become reddish-brown and will appear like bed bugs at that age. Baby roaches appear more cylindrical in shape and bed bugs will be shorter and oval (like apple seeds) in shape
The easiest way to differentiate bed bugs vs cockroaches is by the length of their antennas and the shape of their eyes.
Well, bed bugs vs roaches, how to know them? If the antennas are as long as the body of the insect, it is most likely a cockroach. If you see a small bug with eyes sticking out and short antennas, then you most likely have a bed bug infestation.
Bat bugs and bed bugs’ names sound quite similar. That is not the only similarity they have in common. Both bugs also have similar appearances. It is claimed that only a trained professional can spot the difference between the two bugs.
The major difference between bat bugs and bed bugs is their hair. Bed bugs have shorter hairs on their upper thorax in comparison to bat bugs. Without a microscope, it is impossible for you to spot both bugs as they are very small.
Bat bugs and bed bugs are both blood-sucking insects. They thrive and do well on warm-blooded mammals, but their preference for hosts is unique. Bed bugs prefer human blood while bat bugs as their name suggests feed on bat blood.
When bats are not around, bats would feed on the nearest human accessible.
Mature booklice do not look-like bed bugs in any way. But, they look like bed bug nymphs. Booklice is translucent white, brown, or grey in color. When comparing bed bugs vs booklice, you will notice that booklice antennae are long and points to the sides while bed bugs have quite short antennas.
Lastly, bed bug nymphs do not look like they have a neck and booklice bugs do have it.
Booklice likes to hang around in high humidity areas, such as (you guessed it) damp books, near windows, window sills, and under wallpaper. They do not feed on blood as bed bugs do. Booklice feed on mildew or mould.
Wood ticks also known as dog ticks are oval-shaped and flat insects. They also can be mistaken for cockroaches or bed bug nymph.
Wood ticks appear similar but are notoriously known to live outside while roaches and bed bugs live inside your home.
Ticks attach themselves to the skin of the host in a single place and suck until they are full and then fall out. Bed bugs bite and feed from the host in many places until retreating to their hiding spot.
The carpet beetle is another bug that looks like a bed bug. This pest is also small, flat, and oval-shaped like a baby roach or bed bug. The major difference between these bugs is colour. Carpet beetles have brown shells with white and yellow spots on their back.
Carpet beetles are quite common inside homes. THEY DO NOT FEED ON BLOOD. As the name suggests they prefer eating natural fibers such as carpeting.
It is also hard to spot carpet beetle infestation. They feed in dark and hidden places underneath the furniture.
Like bed bugs, fleas are also known to be blood-scuking parasites. They both bite and will feed on animals or humans to thrive well. Bed bugs prefer humans as hosts because they often live in the mattresses of their victims.
Fleas on the other hand love to find food sources from furry animals but can jump on humans if they need to.
Either fleas and bed bug are a reddish-brown color and do not have wings.
Spider beetles are one of the many bugs that look lie bed bugs. They main difference is that spider beetles are not blood-sucking vermin. They prefer feast on plant-based food found inside the house.
Spider beetles are night animals that love to search for food at night. During the day they are hiding in dark spaces away from humans. They can be found in crevices and cracks much like cockroaches. Both pests are nocturnal and they are active during the night. It makes them harder to see.
It might be hard to find out exactly which pest infestations you have at home. That is why it is always recommended to call a professional pest control specialist.
Baby cockroaches and bed bugs can be very similar and hard to distinguish with the naked eye. Especially when there are many other parasite insects that look similar to cockroaches and bed bugs at various stages in their lifecycle.
When you have a suspicion that you have cockroaches or bed bugs nymphs at home you may also want to make sure you are not mistaken. There are booklice, carpet beetles, wood ticks, bat bugs, fleas, or even spider beetles that look like baby roaches or bed bugs.
Bed bugs vs cockroaches, which infestation have you faced and how did you solve it?