How to Tell the Difference Between Bed Bugs & Ticks

Written by chris miksen
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How to Tell the Difference Between Bed Bugs & Ticks
Just because a bed looks perfectly normal doesn't mean bed bugs aren't nearby. (bed image by Kirsten Alexander from

Bed bugs and ticks: two insects that you probably don't want invading your house anytime soon. Bed bugs are relatively harmless, although annoying. Ticks, on the other hand, can carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a potentially fatal disease if it isn't diagnosed on time. It's important to know the differences between the two insects, so you can be sure to remove ticks immediately and to find out if you have company in your bed while you sleep.

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  1. 1

    Look on your bed sheets and mattress. Bed bugs are most commonly found on beds, as their name implies. Look for tiny black or brown dots moving in groups. Bed bugs are not solitary; they always move as a group.

  2. 2

    Compare the size of the two insects. Bed bugs are very small, and it's often difficult to spot them with the naked eye. Some ticks are small as well, but they are always larger than bed bugs. You can also see the number of legs a tick has, which are six or eight depending on its stage.

  3. 3

    Look for a sack or blob. Ticks suck blood from their host, and a sack of fluid basically blows up like a balloon on their body.

  4. 4

    Compare the bites. Both insects bite, but bed bugs leave little more than a tiny red bump that often doesn't even itch. Tick bites are also small, but they appear more inflamed. A red bull's-eye on your skin also indicates a tick bite. See your doctor right away if you develop a bull's-eye, as is this is a classic sign of Lyme disease.

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