Bed Bugs Vs Mites – How to Tell the Difference

What are the differences between bed bugs vs. mites? No infestation from any of the bed bugs or mites is good. But exterminating them requires that you know their differences.  

In summary, bed bugs are blood-sucking insects that bite human and animal hosts. However, Dust mites are arachnids eating dead skin cells left by humans, ticks, and spiders in homes. 

But mites don’t bite humans but will cause skin irritation. Bed bugs are tiny insects that don’t fly but will live in cracks on bed frames, box springs, mattresses, beds, textiles, and furniture.

Bed Bugs Vs. Mites – How to Tell the Difference

Bed bugs are mainly active at night and cause anemia and itching (may cause secondary dermal infections) – but don’t spread diseases. Read Also: Can Cockroaches Fly?

1. Physical Appearance i. Size 

Bed bugs: On size, bed bugs will grow to about 1/4 of an inch (1 – 6.8 mm) in length – adults measure 5 mm to 7 mm – an apple seed’s size in length. 

Bed bugs are oval-shaped but flat, have six legs, and two antennae. Eggs are pin-head sized (1 mm) while nymph stage measure; 1st stage (1.5 mm), 2nd (2 mm), 3rd (2.5 mm), 4th (3 mm), and 5th (4.5 mm). 

Mites: Mites have an unsegmented body, and the length of their body is 0.2 mm – many of these bugs measure under 1 mm. Velvet mites are 6 mm to 8 mm in length and are bright-colored with fine hairs. 

Image Source: Palomar.edu

Dust mites (0.2 mm to 0.3 mm) have no antennae or eyes and won’t sting, and are not parasites. These bugs aren’t visible with the naked human eyes – use a magnifying glass plus microscope. 

ii. Color

Bed bugs: Before taking a blood-meal, adult bed bugs are rusty-brown and mahogany in color – colored reddish to tan. But after they’re engorged, they’ll be red-brown. 

Baby bed bugs (Nymphs) are colorless/ semi-translucent or translucent-tan after hatching but will turn brownish on maturing. When you squish bed bugs, they’ll leave a red bloodstain and some terrible odor. 

Mites: Mite’s color has different colors, including reddish-brown, brown, tan – or a mixture of colors; some species are green, blue, or bright red. Larvae mites (arachnids) are red (natural pigment). 

The sarcoptic (scabies mites or mange mites) are about 120 species. These species are pale-brown and tiny in size. Read also; Ear mites treatment

iii. Shape 

Bed bugs: Bed bugs have oval-shaped & flat body. They don’t have functional wings but have wing pads or vestigial wings. Their shape is more engorged (larger and swollen ) as they feed on the host’s blood. 

Bed bugs an average thickness of your bank credit card. The bugs are about an apple seed in size – but their nymphs are sized like a poppy seed. 

Mites: These arachnids will have pincer-looking mouth-parts, no antennae, and four pairs of legs. Mites have one body segment, but the shape is different in various species.

Their pear-shaped, rounded, and soft body is covered by pale hairs that’s fine. As noted above, mites (with their unsegmented body) are 0.04 inches. 

Due to the tiny body size, mites species may be over-looked – some are parasites, predators, decomposers (living in soil) while are others exist in the water while the rest exist in plants. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3pEBbcWzug

2. Natural habitats

Bed bugs:

Bed bugs will mainly hide in tiny crevices and cracks around human sleeping and living areas. You’ll find them on furniture crevices, upholstery, wallpaper, and baseboards. 

Further, you may find bed bugs under seats in trains, buses, and other cars. They could also occupy alternative or temporary habitats like backpacks, luggage, and fabrics. 

Some bed bug species like the Cimicidae family will mainly bite birds and bats – bides also biting humans. They also hide in clothing and lodging areas, including dormitories, apartments, and hotels. 

Bed bugs:

Mites mainly live as parasites on animals and plants, including fungi. The mites are in caves, thermal springs, salt or freshwater, ornamental plants, crops, pastures, and forests. 

The mites will live in leaf litter and other organic debris. However, dust mites love moist and dark places such as cushions, pillows, and mattresses. 

3. Eating Habits 

Bed bugs:

Bed bugs won’t burrow into human skin while feeding but will otherwise pierce with their sharp mouth-parts to reach capillaries to such blood. 

On amount, bed bugs consume a meal about six times their body weight while sleeping, which happens within a quarter of an hour.

However, adults may live for even five months without taking a blood meal. After taking their blood meal, the female bed bugs will escape into the cracks and walls to lay eggs. 

Further, their nymphs or baby bed bugs can also survive for a long time without eating. With the appropriate humidity and temperature, the bed bugs will live in this condition even for weeks. 

Bed bugs will mainly take their meals every 3-7 days, considering their conditions and age. Therefore, most of the bed bugs will be digesting their meals – and hence treatment leads to dormancy. 

Read also: Bed Bug Bites Vs. Mosquito Bites

Mites:

Mite’s diet feeds on the blood and skin of mammals. However, others live like predators feeding on micro-organisms. Also, some mites will feed on decaying matter, such as fungi – decomposer diets.

Spider mites feed on several plants like house plants & American-elm trees – their juice and soft tissues. Further, species like house dust mites will feed on dead tissue – they aren’t parasitic.

Also, dust mites will eat the dead skin cells that are shed by humans. Further, some mites are predators and will eat other mites. But most aren’t harmful. 

Dust mites don’t suck blood from pets or human beings. But the bugs eat flakes of a pet or human skin that’s shed off. You’ll find them on curtains, carpets, upholstered furniture, bedding, & mattresses. 

4. Health effects 

Despite being tiny bugs, mites have a large health effect because its poop will trigger allergic reactions like eczema, rhinitis, and asthma. 

On the other hand, bed bug bites leave red marks that are red-colored and tiny in size. Flea bites vs. bed bug bites. You’ll find mites also most rooms in boarding houses, nursing home, motel, and hotel. 

But since dust mites won’t be easy to notice – you’ll have to use other signs. So, check for regular asthma and allergy attacks. Also, cleaning the spaces won’t help remove the dust mites. 

Conclusion

You can use covers (dust-proof), mattresses covers,  blankets, and sheets for bed bugs. I would also recommend using steamers to kill bed bugs to clean up even the dead bed bugs

For mites, look output for any allergy signs, including stuffy nose, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Organic methods to control mites include washing plants using steam from a bug blaster. 

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