Insects belonging to the Cimicidae family possess mouthparts that are designed for puncturing skin, allowing them to collect their needed blood-meals from animals, and in some cases, humans. The most well known insect species in this family, Cimex lectularius, or “bed bugs,” as they are more commonly known, are tremendously common insect pests within homes and buildings in most areas of the world. While these insect pests were nearly eradicated from the US following the Second World War, they reemerged in massive numbers throughout the US around two decades ago. Today, just about everyone is familiar with bed bugs, but their close relative, the “bat bug,” is also an occasional indoor pest, and it is often mistaken for the bed bug within the homes that they infest.
The bat bug species is officially known as Cimex pilosellus, and it can be found throughout the United States. Much like bed bugs, bat bugs feed on the blood of mammals, mainly bats, as their name suggests. Because of their preference for bat blood, bat bugs do not infest homes nearly as often as bed bugs, but when they do, they are often mistaken for bed bugs on account of their similar appearance and behaviors. Bat bugs are often attached to the bodies of bats that invade houses, and infestations are likely to occur in homes where bats have established a roosting site within an attic, chimney or wall void.
While indoors, bat bugs nest in bat roosts where they continue to feed on bat blood, but if their usual bat hosts abandon a home, the remaining bat bugs will invade interior living areas in order to attach themselves to another mammalian host. In some cases, bat bugs invade homes from an abandoned roost located on the exterior of a structure, such as beneath siding, near a chimney and around windows. It is not uncommon for bat bugs to die after their bat hosts abandon an indoor roost, but it is also not uncommon for bat bugs to migrate to mattresses, furniture and surrounding carpeting in order to feast on human blood. Also, bat bugs are most often found within cracks and crevices around roosting areas within infested homes, and conservative insecticide applications and/or heat treatments effectively eliminate infestations.
Have you ever woken up to find fresh bug bites that resembled bed bug bites?