Tick vs Bed Bugs: How to Tell the Difference between these Notorious Pests

The Main Differences

Both bed bugs and ticks are parasites which means they hang on to a host and feed off them. They are often confused because they are unpleasant, look awfully alike and it’s hard to tell which is which just by looking at the bite.

But perhaps the biggest similarity is that you don’t want either of these pests in your home or your body. You would like to avoid them both but if you have to, you need to be able to tell which is which so that you can fix the problem as soon as possible.

So, while there are many differences between these two pests, we will start with physical appearance. Then we will look at their behavior and finally, we will look at what can be done to prevent a pest problem in the first place.

In Terms of Size

Even if you look at both ticks and bed bugs closely, both these parasites look the same even. Well, they are not, so let’s get started with the exercise of identifying them visually.

Typically, the way ticks look varies based on their particular species. However, most of them are about the same size as sesame seeds which are about 3-4 mm long.

On the contrary, bed bugs are a lot bigger. For reference, bed bugs are closer to an apple seed in size, which is about 8 mm long.

In Terms of Color

This one is interesting because ticks are in different colors though the most well-known species are reddish-brown or dark brown. But some of them have stripes or white spots. They also tend to have light bodies and dark legs.

Bed bugs tend to stick to reddish-brown colors although after feeding, they can be in rich red color.

In Terms of Shape

Now, this is where it gets tricky because when it comes to shape, bed bugs and ticks have more similarities than differences. That is why it is easy to confuse one with the other. Ticks are relatively narrower but both pests are flat, in the shape of seed and neither pest has wings.

In Terms of Number of Legs

Since both these pests come from different classes, ticks have eight legs like spiders because they are arachnids. Bed bugs have only six legs because they are actually insects.

Ticks Like Outdoors, Bed Bugs Not So Much

When it comes to habitat, both these pests are quite different. These are important factors that help you determine which one you are dealing with. And that’s how you can solve the problem. So, here we go.

Ticks like to be in wooded and grassy places outside your home. They are also not big fans of infesting buildings.

On the contrary, bed bugs like to stay in beds, couch cushions and any other kind of furniture in a building. That is because they like to stay near a host, which indicates their parasitic tendencies.

Ticks Spread Diseases, Bed Bugs Don’t

This is another big difference between the two pests and it is one you should be worried about. Ticks carry diseases with them and are known to carry huge problems such as Lyme disease.

But bed bugs actually do not spread diseases even though they cause significant harm in other ways. That’s the next point.

Ticks Feed on Animals, Bed Bugs Feed on Humans

Ticks like to stay outside because they like to feed on animals that are typically not found inside every household. At least that’s not been the case in terms of evolution. They tend to end up biting people when they can’t find any animals around.

Bed bugs are the exact opposite when it comes to this. They really do prefer biting into your flesh compared to your pets. But don’t rule that out because they will go after your pets if they don’t have any opportunity to bite into fresh human flesh.

Ticks Bite You Once, Bed Bugs Do It Again and Again

It’s understandable that ticks scare many people; several serious diseases are spread by them. The good news is that you may find help from your plight here. Typically, ticks will burrow all the way into a person’s brain.

They’ll cling to you till they’ve had all they can handle. And if left alone, they can do so for at least a day. You know that they only need to bite you once to physically drain your blood.

Different from other bugs is how bed bugs operate. They perform surgery on your skin by scratching a tiny opening and sucking blood through a protrusion on their body. Like mosquitoes, they’ll keep coming back for more.

Ticks Mostly Bite Whenever They Want, Bed Bugs Do It at Night

Here’s another way of identifying which pest is making your life miserable. And this is an easy one too. There are two types of ticks—hard and soft. Hard ticks mostly feed at night but come the moment, they can rise to the occasion during the day too. That’s just our bad luck. Soft ticks tend to do their work entirely at night.

On the other hand, bed bugs work at night for a little while and then find another spot and then another. Unlike ticks, bed bugs do all their work when you are asleep.

So, if you got bit when you were outside, you have ticks and if it’s happening almost exclusively at night, there are bed bugs in the house.

Preventing Ticks vs. Preventing Bed Bugs

Whichever pest is bothering you, you obviously need a solution but prevention is an even better idea. So, here we go. Luckily for all of us, there are more than a couple of ways of dealing with both these problems.

Ticks can be avoided by avoiding woodpiles. You shouldn’t have any places for them to hide, such piles of trash, in the yard. So they don’t plot against you while lounging in your grass, you should also trim it regularly.

If you wish to go hiking on a sunny day, protect yourself from the sun by wearing layers and staying away from regions with high grass and dense foliage. That could seem contradictory but not if you stick to the course of trekking.

To reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home, you should avoid purchasing second-hand furniture from places like consignment stores. You shouldn’t buy furniture off the street, however, how common and useful it may be. That’s unfortunate, but you’ll just have to accept it.

If you have just come back from a trip, you want to make sure that the bed bugs didn’t enter your home by hanging on to your luggage. So inspect all the bags individually and thoroughly. And if you are not sure, you might want to vacuum them at least once. Also, remember that buying an encasement for your mattress is not a bad idea.