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What are bat bugs?

Bat bugs can be found in your home, but are often confused for bed bugs. But what about the almost identical-looking bat bug? Bed bugs and bat bugs are very closely related; without a microscope, bed bugs and bat bugs look the same. “The sole discernible difference is that bat bugs have longer thoracic hair than bed bugs,” says Nancy Troyano, PhD, BCE, Training Manager at Rentokil (Ehrlich).  They are both flightless insects that suck mammalian blood. While bed bugs have recently made a comeback, becoming a scourge to humans everywhere, bat bugs prefer to feed on, well, bats.

Over the past few years, a lot of fuss has been about those difficult to terminate, much less control, tiny blood-sucking parasites known as bed bugs. There are various theories on the recent bed bug explosion: increased international travel, increased number of people renting furniture, the uptick in people relying on used clothing items and even climate change. But if you’re not sure whether you have bat bugs or bed bugs, contact us and we can inspect your home.

Differences between bed and bat bugs
Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Bat bug bites

Bat bugs do not live on bats; they reside where bats live. They feed on sleeping bats and then sneak away to cracks and crevices.  Unlike bed bugs, bat bugs will feed on humans only if there are no bats around. This typically happens when homeowners have removed the bats from their homes, likely from the attic or voids in walls.

The bat bug, left with little other choice, continues to forage for food by descending into the living quarters, finding people to feed on instead of bats. Although bat bugs will feed on humans, they will not be able to reproduce on that food source.

The good fact is bat bugs are not known to pass diseases to people. Still, bat bug bites are capable of producing insomnia and anxiety.

Bad Rap For Bats

Though bats are natural pest control experts, they have earned a bad rap. A notable misconception is that bats are rabid, blood-sucking creatures looking to infect humans. The vast majority of bats are insect eaters. All bats in the state of Pennsylvania are insect feeders, catching their prey while in flight or from vegetation.

Another significant benefit of having bats in the neighborhood is that a bat can consume more than its body weight in insects in a single night. Bats, possibly due to their nocturnal nature and secretive ways, have been widely mistrusted and feared.

Bat bug Control

Controlling bat bugs involves targeting the roosting bats as they are the original source of the bat bug. Exclusion or removal of the bats will ultimately lead to the death of the bat bugs as they will have lost their hosts. Because of this, the bat bugs will be in desperate search for food (humans will temporarily suffice).

How to get rid of bat bugs

While the bat bugs will not be able to reproduce on human blood, they will be quite an itching annoyance-much like bed bugs- until they die off. But who wants to endure that torture? The cracks and crevices utilized by the migrating bat bugs can be treated with insecticides, such as are used for bed bug extermination. Ideally, a pest control expert, such as Ehrlichshould be consulted for a pest project of this magnitude.

Have you had an experience with either bat bugs or bed bugs? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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