Bed Bugs vs Roaches: What are the Differences?

If you find a bug, you may wonder if it’s a bed bug or a cockroach. We are here to help you ID bed bugs vs roaches. Plus, we will cover the significant differences between the two.

Bed bugs are smallish, nocturnal insects that feed on human blood and, in some people, can cause itchy, uncomfortable bites. They tend to reside in dark, cozy places such as mattresses and furniture, making them difficult to locate.

Roaches, on the other hand, are more visible but equally troublesome. Additionally, a cockroach will tend to hide in the daytime in areas like kitchens and bathrooms, contaminating food and spreading germs.

A roach can hide out in a crevice of a kitchen drawer, under a counter, or behind an outlet.

As you learn more about these pests, it’s essential to recognize that tackling each problem requires different strategies. Let’s dive into how to identify, prevent, and manage bed bug and roach infestations in your home.

Bed Bugs vs Roaches: Basic Overview

In this section, we will learn about bed bugs and roaches, two common insects you may encounter in your home. We will cover how to identify each of these pests and briefly discuss their habits.

Bed Bugs vs Roaches: What are the Differences?

Identifying Bed Bugs

Common bed bugs are scientifically known as Cimex lectularius. These insects are small and oval-shaped, typically 5-6.5 mm long. They can be reddish-brown to light brown, often becoming darker after feeding.

Furthermore, their flat and broad bodies allow them to easily hide in narrow spaces during the day, only to appear at night when most active.

It’s important to note that they do not have wings and cannot fly. Learn more: “do bed bugs fly?”

Here’s what to look for when trying to identify bed bugs:

Characteristics of Bed Bugs VS Roaches

  • Size: 1.5-6.5 mm long and 1.5-3mm wide (the size depends on what stage you find)
  • Color: Reddish-brown
  • Wings: No wings
  • Shape: Oval-shaped, with a flattened body (although right after feeding, the body can be more plump)

  • Feces: They’ll leave behind black ink-like stains near their harborages.
  • Legs: Bed bugs don’t have spiny legs like roaches.

You may also find evidence of bed bug infestations through minor stains on your sheets or mattress, tiny black fecal spots, or shed skin.

Bed Bugs vs Roaches

Identifying Roaches (Roaches vs Bed Bugs)

Several species of roaches commonly infest homes, including the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), the German cockroach (Blattella germanica), and the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis). Learn more about what German roaches look like here.

Regarding taxonomy, roaches and bed bugs are classified into different orders. Bed bugs belong to the order Hemiptera, characterized by insects primarily plant-sucking pests.

On the other hand, roaches belong to the order Blattodea, which is known for insects that are primarily scavengers. These scavengers have chewing and biting mouthparts. This scientific classification underlines some of their significant behavioral and physiological differences.

The feeding habits, life cycle, preferred habitats, and infestation strategies of bed bugs and roaches are distinct, requiring unique approaches for their identification, prevention, and management.

Roaches, or cockroaches, are another common household pest. They have a longer, thinner-shaped body, usually tan, brown, or black. Check out our “small brown bugs in a house” list for more info.

Furthermore, they range in size depending on the species but are generally larger than bed bugs. Here’s some information to help you identify roaches:

Bed Bug vs German Roach

Characteristics of Roaches VS Bed Bugs

  • Size: Varies by species, from 1.6mm to 53mm in length
  • Color: Brown, tan, white, or black (the white roaches are freshly molted and will gain color soon)
  • Wings: Many species have wings.

  • Shape: Oval-shaped, with long antennae and spiny legs
  • Feces: You’ll find these blackish greasy, coarse spots on the walls, under counters, and in cabinets. Both roaches and bed bugs can leave behind black spots on walls.

  • Legs: Roaches have spines on their legs

Roaches are attracted to food and water so you may find them in your kitchen or near leaky pipes.

Be sure to look for their droppings resembling coffee grounds or black pepper.

To note, unlike the bed bugs, which eat blood, the cockroach droppings can differ in size and shape depending on what they eat. Since bed bugs only feed on blood, their droppings will usually look consistent.

Familiarize yourself with the appearance and markers of bed bugs vs roaches. In turn, you can more quickly address any infestations and take the necessary steps to rid your home of these unwelcome pests.

bed bug vs roaches photo ID

Habitat Comparison: Bed Bugs VS Roaches

While bed bugs and roaches can hide and go unnoticed, they have completely different habits. Notably, bed bugs are blood feeders, while roaches scavenge for food.

Bed Bug Habitats

Bed bugs are small, flat, oval insects that need a blood meal to survive. They prefer to live near their warm-blooded host, which is you.

Furthermore, bed bugs typically reside in places with easy access to people, such as mattresses, headboards, couches, chairs, and box springs.

Additionally, they can also be found in cracks and crevices within walls, under baseboards, and even in electrical outlets.

However, if you see a bed bug in a kitchen, bathroom, or ceiling, we cover the common reasons in these articles below.

Bed bugs like roaches are experts at hiding and can go unnoticed until an infestation becomes severe.

To help prevent a bed bug situation, you can:

  • Regularly wash and dry your bedding in high heat settings to catch an infestation early.
  • Inspect your luggage and clothing after traveling or sitting in public places.

  • Vacuum your bed frame, mattress, and headboard regularly. Learn more about vacuums for bed bugs here.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices in your walls and floors to minimize hiding spots.

Roach Habitats

Roaches are opportunistic pests that thrive in a variety of environments. They prefer dark, damp, and warm areas with easy access to food sources.

Some typical roach habitats include kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and behind appliances. Roaches are more active at night, so watch for signs of their presence, such as droppings or shed skin.

To help prevent a roach infestation, you can:

  • Inspect all food delivery bags that you bring into the home.

  • Seal any minuscule holes, gaps, or cracks in your home’s structure.

By understanding the differences between bed bugs and roach habitats, you can take preventative measures to keep both pests at bay.

Behavior and Lifecycle: Bed Bugs VS Roaches

Bed Bug Behavior

Bed bugs are sneaky little creatures. They’re nocturnal, so they come out at night to feed on your blood. They’re attracted to the warmth of your body and the carbon dioxide you exhale.

Usually, bed bugs remain hidden during the day, staying in tight spaces like crevices in your mattress, headboard, or furniture. You might not even know they’re there until you notice bed bug stains.

Roach Behavior

Conversely, roaches are more likely to venture out in search of food during both day and night. They’re omnivorous scavengers that eat just about anything, from crumbs to cat poop to other insects.

Learn more in our article: “What do cockroaches eat?”

Cockroaches love dark, damp places, so they often hide in basements and kitchens, under appliances, electronics, or behind cabinets.

Furthermore, roaches are quick and agile, scurrying away when they detect movement or light. Plus, cockroaches can climb walls.

Lifecycle of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have a fascinating lifecycle. It starts with a tiny, oval egg. After about ten to fourteen days, bed bugs hatch as nymphs.

bed bug eggs on a couch

Next in the bed bug life cycle, they undergo five developmental stages, called instars, shedding their exoskeleton at each location. In order to grow, a nymph must have a blood meal before it can molt to the next instar.

Bed bugs to mature from nymphs to adults take around five to eight weeks. Adult bed bugs, about 5-6.5 mm, can live for up to a year. However, in most cases, they will die in 6-9 months.

Lifecycle of Roaches

Roaches also have an intriguing lifecycle. They start as small, bean-shaped eggs, which female cockroaches lay an egg case, called an ootheca. How many eggs are in an ootheca will depend on the roach species.

Depending on the roach species, the duration of egg to adult can vary. After hatching, nymphs look similar to adults but are smaller and lack wings.

They go through multiple molts, usually between five and twelve, before becoming winged adults.

So now you’re more informed on the behavior and lifecycle of bed bugs and roaches. With this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to identify them and understand how to tell them apart.

Health Impact on Humans

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are insects that require to feed on blood, primarily at night. When they bite you, you might not feel anything right away. However, in some people, their bites can cause itchy, red welts on their skin.

Although these bites can be pretty uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases. After consulting with your Doctor, you can apply a topical cream or over-the-counter corticosteroid to reduce the itchiness and keep the affected area clean and dry.

Roach Allergies

On the other hand, roaches pose a different kind of health threat to humans. You may be surprised to learn that cockroaches carry allergens in their bodies and saliva, feces, and urine.

These allergens can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, especially in children and sensitive individuals. Common symptoms of a roach allergy include sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing, and skin rashes.

Roaches can also transmit bacteria by stepping through places and picking the bacteria up on their feet. Then, when they climb your counters, they deposit harmful bacteria.

To minimize the risk to your health, it’s crucial to maintain a clean living space and implement effective pest control measures. This way, you’ll help protect yourself and your loved ones from the potential health hazards these creatures may bring.

Prevention and Control

Preventing Bed Bug Infestations

To prevent bed bug infestations, you should regularly inspect your home for signs of their presence, such as blackish ink-like spots and shed skins. Vacuum your home frequently, paying particular attention to areas around beds, sofas, and other upholstered furniture.

Encase your mattresses, foam pads, and box springs in bed bug-proof covers, and wash your bedding in a high-heat dryer at least once a week.

Another effective prevention strategy is to avoid bringing used furniture, mattresses, or other items into your home without thoroughly inspecting them for obvious signs of bed bugs. Learn more about how to check used furniture for bed bugs.

If you’ve recently traveled, check your luggage, carry-on, clothing, and books for any signs of bed bugs before unpacking.

Preventing Roach Infestations

Keep your living spaces clean and food debris-free to prevent roach infestations.

Keep your living spaces clean and free of food crumbs and debris to prevent roach infestations. Seal any cracks or crevices in ceilings, walls, floors, and baseboards to eliminate entry points for roaches.

Additionally, they store food in airtight containers, promptly clean up spills and crumbs, and regularly take out the trash to discourage these pests.

It would be best if you also fix any water leaks, as roaches are attracted to moisture. Clear any clutter from your home, especially in dark, damp spaces like basements and under sinks, to remove potential hiding spots for roaches.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bed Bugs VS Roaches

Can Bed Bugs and Roaches Coexist?

Yes, bed bugs and roaches can coexist in the same environment. Clients often ask, “Do cockroaches eat bed bugs?” and the answer is a resounding “YES!”. However, they typically have different living preferences. Bed bugs are more attracted to areas where people sleep, like bedrooms and hotel rooms.

Roaches, on the other hand, prefer damp and dark places like bathrooms and kitchens. Even though they can inhabit the same space, they don’t typically live close to each other.

Do Bed Bugs and Roaches Attract Each Other?

Bed bugs and roaches do not actively attract each other. Bed bugs are attracted to mammals due to the carbon dioxide we exhale and our body heat. They feed on our blood and typically stay close to their food source.

Roaches, however, are omnivorous scavengers and eat a wide variety of organic materials, including food debris, paper, and even other insects.

While they may occasionally cross paths due to sharing the same living environment, they do not have any particular attraction or communication between them.

Do Roaches Eat Bed Bugs?

While it’s uncommon, some species of roaches will eat bed bugs if given the opportunity. Roaches are not picky eaters, and some larger species, like the American Cockroach, have been observed preying on bed bugs.

However, there are more reliable methods for controlling a bed bug infestation, as roaches are not the sole predators of bed bugs and will not actively seek them out as a primary food source.

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