Tick vs Bed Bug

Tick vs. Bedbug: How To Tell The Difference

Ticks are arthropods that are well-known to be obligate bloodsuckers that can transmit various diseases to humans and most animals through bites. On the other hand, bedbugs are insects that are also blood-sucking parasites of birds and certain animals that can bite humans but rarely spread disease.

What Are the Differences?

Ticks mainly reside in brushy areas such as forests and fields, while bedbugs are primarily found in human dwellings and particularly in bedding, mattresses, and in human-used items such as furniture. As aforementioned, ticks are classified as arthropods, while bedbugs are insects. As you might know, mosquitoes are the highest vectors of human vectors, while ticks come second. Bedbugs, on the other hand, do not spread disease. In general, there are more than 800 varieties of ticks (for instance, lone star ticks, deer ticks, and dog ticks are familiar names; however, there are lots of genus and species names of both hard and soft ticks). Yet, only a single genus of bedbugs and the entire species have this common bedbug name. In terms of their appearance, bedbugs are longer than ticks.

What Are the Similarities?

There are many similarities with bedbugs and ticks. Both might bring about problems to the bite itself (cellulitis or allergic reactions). They both use a particular bite-like mechanism to obtain a blood meal, and both might possess certain chemicals that are often injected to anesthetize the original bite site. Furthermore, ticks and bedbugs might use other animals instead of humans for their blood meal. Also, bites from both might seldom result in allergic reactions. What’s more, both create tiny nymphs during development and relatively larger adults that are usually easily visible and can also be easily mistaken for each another. Also, ticks and bedbugs do not jump or fly.

What are some risk factors for bedbug and tick bites?

When it comes to tick bites, the major threat factor is when you walk in grassy areas without using protective clothing or even protective chemical repellants while the main threat factors for bedbug bites are a failed extermination effort to get rid of a structure of bedbugs, when you sleep in bedding that already has an infestation of insects, or wearing another person’s contaminated attire and not using insect repellants to combat these creatures.

Tick and bedbug bites: What are the signs and symptoms?

Typically, bedbugs bite during nighttime and just before dawn. And although bedbug bites are often painless, they may bring about severe itching. These bites might be in lines and form

  • Rash,
  • Reddish bumps, or
  • Blisters and might occur anywhere on the body

Bedbugs are generally tiny creatures, but multiple bites can come from a single bedbug. Similarly, tick bites are often painless but might bring about itching, redness, burning, and seldom, localized joint pain or a rash close to the bite that typically is singular; however, multiple bites can come from individual ticks. Furthermore, some people usually experience allergic reactions immediately after a bedbug bite or a tick bite.

It’s also crucial to know that generalized itch that takes place all over the body is often much more challenging to treat as compared to localized itch. Also, itches can take place with or without skin lesions (abnormalities, redness, rash, blisters, or bumps that can be visible on the skin). In case you have an itch that also has a visible skin abnormality, you must schedule a check-up with a physician and, in some situations, by a dermatologist because the issue will probably be a condition that demands specialized medical treatment.

What types of diseases do bedbugs and ticks transmit?

There is some proof suggesting bedbugs can be vectors for Chagas disease and hepatitis B. Most bedbug bites, however, do not transmit diseases. Still, they can lead to severe itching and might become infected with bacteria, resulting in cellulitis. Tick bites can cause several diseases. In fact, a single bite might bring about one or more of the following diseases:

  • Red meat allergy
  • Bourbon virus disease
  • Powassan virus infection
  • Tick paralysis
  • Q fever
  • Tularemia
  • Colorado tick fever
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Relapsing fever
  • Babesiosis
  • Monocytic ehrlichiosis and human granulocytic
  • Lyme disease

What are the treatment methods and home remedies for bedbug and tick bites?

Usually, it’s not necessary to treat bedbug bites. However, it might be helpful to use an antiseptic lotion spray that does or doesn’t have a topical antibiotic to minimize itching. During the bite, bedbugs and ticks typically attach themselves to the skin firmly. Although it’s possible to treat the tick bite itself, the disease(s) spread by that bite demand certain treatments depending on the specific disease. Some of the home remedies you can apply for tick bites include apple cider vinegar, meat tenderizer, rubbing with cut onion, and calamine lotion. For bedbug bites, some of the home remedies include calamine lotion, lemon juice, aloe vera, witch hazel, menthol toothpaste, oatmeal baths, waste paste, and baking soda. However, before applying any of these techniques, it’s prudent to consult your medical caregiver.

What is the prognosis for bedbug and tick bites?

Typically, the prognosis for bedbug bites is smooth, with only a selected number of individuals developing complications. On the other hand, tick bites often have a prognosis ranging from good to fair, based on what disease(s) they transmit, the time duration of receiving a diagnosis, as well as how the individuals respond to these treatments. So, is it possible to prevent these bedbugs and tick bites?


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued recommendations that are useful in preventing tick-borne diseases. Generally, these include the use of various products to repel ticks, the specific type of protective clothing you should wear, as well as how to reduce or eradicate the habitat of ticks. Similarly, there are also suggestions when it comes to bedbug prevention. However, these mainly include heating the room to kill those insects. Alternatively, you can use products like sprays, detectors, repellents, foggers, bombs, and powders to fight them.

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