Know Your Bugs Before You Treat: Bed vs. Bat

Bed bug (left) and bat bug (right). (Photo by Kait Chapman)
Bed bug (left) and bat bug (right). (Photo by Kait Chapman)

By Kait Chapman, Extension Educator in Lancaster County

You’re just minding your own business in your home when you suddenly see an insect crawling along nearby. You decide to take a closer look and a bit of panic sets in about the prospect of a bug in your home. A quick Google search later, and you’re convinced it’s the dreaded bed bug.

The first thing you should do if you find yourself in a situation with insects in your home is to have it properly identified by a professional. This is especially important with bed bugs and bat bugs, because to the average person, they can look indistinguishable and often require a microscope to tell the difference. Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County currently offers free insect and spider identification and consultation services. Lincoln is a batty city, and most samples we receive from clients that suspect they have bed bugs, end up being bat bugs instead.

Good news! While bat bugs may occasionally bite humans in the absence of their regular hosts (bats); controlling them is a lot simpler than controlling bed bugs. Fixing your bat bug problem is as simple as removing any bats roosting in or around your home. Simply contact your local pest control specialist for safe relocation and vacuum up any lingering bugs around the home. Voila — your bat bug problem is solved!

Remember — don’t panic! Bed bugs can be a hassle to manage, but it is possible and there are a lot of resources available to you. While their bites can be painful and irritating, bed bugs do not carry or transmit any human diseases. There are essentially two routes you can take:
• Manage it yourself: less expensive but more labor-intensive on your end.
• Contact a pest control specialist: more expensive, but often quicker.

Nebraska Extension provides many resources for how to manage and monitor for bed bugs. To learn more, visit