Mattress bugs and bat bugs

Bed bugs and bat bugs

As travel increases, so does the risk of bringing bed bugs home. In recent years, the number of bed bugs brought to counseling centers for identification has increased.

Bat bugs are also introduced. It is easy to confuse these two insects, which is why it is important to make positive identification before attempting to control them.

Bats and bed bugs are very similar in size and appearance. To distinguish them from one another, they must be viewed under a microscope to compare the length of some body hairs with the width of their eyes, along with other comparisons.

I am sharing this as a reminder of the importance of clearly identifying each insect before attempting to control it. Correct identification saves money, increases control effectiveness and helps avoid unnecessary insecticide applications.

Bed bugs feed on humans and if left unchecked, their numbers and bites will increase, eventually making control more expensive and complicated. The risk of bed bugs spreading into the homes of friends or family members also increases.

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Bat bugs feed primarily on bats and are only noticed when bats are present and then controlled; or when bats leave the roost. Without their preferred host, bat bugs may go in search of a meal and then bite humans.

If you find an insect that you suspect is a bed bug or a bat bug, have it identified by a professional pest controller or at a Nebraska Extension office. Although none of the beetles are known to transmit disease to humans, it is important to determine which one is present as there is a wide variation in control methods.

Bat bugs are prevented or controlled by excluding bats from the home. For bat exclusion information, go to and search for “Bats in and Around Structures.”

Getting rid of bed bugs from your home is more involved and complicated and is often best done by a professional pest exterminator.

Homeowners do not want to incur the expense of controlling bed bugs if they have bat bugs. However, you don’t want to target bat bugs if they have bed bugs.

None of these insects will simply appear in a house or apartment. Bats must be present in the structure for bat bugs to be present. Bed bugs are usually carried from place to place by people.

The most common ways bed bugs are brought in are by travelers bringing them home from infested hotel rooms, on used furniture, or hitchhiking on clothing after a homeowner visits an infested home.

To learn more about bed bug prevention and more, the Managing Bed Bugs publication is available at A number of excellent resources are also available at and

If you have an insect that you need to identify or need help locating the bed bug resources above, contact your local Extension office or email

Kelly Feehan is an environmental educator for Nebraska Extension-Platte County.

Kelly Feehan is an environmental educator for Nebraska Extension-Platte County.