What Are Bat Bugs?

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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.

Bat bug vs bed bug

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.

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 Ehrlich, should 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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Stephen E. Doyle

I am a Professional Writing major at Penn State University (Berks Campus). I will graduate in May 2014. I have finally decided to pursue my lifelong love of writing via a career change. I am a fulltime college student, fulltime father of two wonderful boys- 8 years and 5 months- and an avid reader of noir fiction, historical fiction and enjoy the occasional biography. I am also a freelance writer enjoying my summer internship with Rentokil (Ehrlich) in Reading, Pennsylvania as a marketing intern primarily writing for the blog sites for Rentokil and Ambius as well as content for the Rentokil (Ehrlich) website. I freelance for The Reading Eagle newspaper (Berks County, Pa) and I write for the Home Builders Association's award winning bi-monthly magazine, 'At Home In Berks'. A few of my hobbies are writing, watching and playing soccer with my 8 year-old son, watching my 8 year-old son play soccer, reading, watching old films (Kurosawa, Melville, Dasin, Wim Wenders, etc.), cooking and weekend jaunts to New York City.

5 Comments

  1. We’ve been having an issue w bat bugs since May when the. Bats were removed from our attic. Our IPM company has sprayed and dusted to no avail. Do you have experience with bat bugs specifically?

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