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Bat Bugs

Bat bugs, primarily found in structures with bat infestations, are insects often mistaken for bed bugs due to their uncanny resemblance. Their interaction with humans, especially when bats aren’t around, can cause discomfort. Get acquainted with these critters and know how to manage them effectively.


In the US, various bugs thrive on either bats or birds. The eastern bat bug, Cimex adjunctus, stands out as the species that is most likely found in bat-occupied structures and can easily be confused with the human bed bug, Cimex lectularius. Both species have the same size and are so closely alike that one would need a microscope or hand lens for accurate identification. A notable distinction is the length of their hair. Bat bugs are noticeably hairier, with longer hairs compared to bed bugs.

Common Bat Bugs Species

Cimex adjunctus (Eastern Bat Bug)

Description: It resembles the common bed bug in size and appearance but has longer hair on its thorax.

Habitat: Found in the Eastern parts of North America, often in bat roosting areas like attics, wall voids, and chimneys.

Hosts: Prefers bats but may feed on humans if bats are unavailable.

Cimex pilosellus (Western Bat Bug)

Description: Similar in appearance to the Eastern Bat Bug and the common bed bug. The longer hairs on its thorax are the distinguishing feature.

Habitat: Found in Western North America, especially in areas where bats roost.

Hosts: Bats are their primary host, but they can switch to humans without bats.

Cimex japonicus

Description: This species of bat bug resembles other Cimex species, with flat, oval bodies and a reddish-brown hue. Their subtle morphological differences often require expert attention or a microscope for differentiation.

Habitat: As the name suggests, Cimex japonicus is native to Japan. It is primarily associated with bat roosting sites, such as caves, old buildings, attics, and other secluded areas.

Hosts: Cimex japonicus feeds primarily on bats. However, if the bat population dwindles or if bats vacate their roost, these bugs can resort to feeding on humans, causing skin irritation similar to bed bug bites.

Cimex latipennis

Description: Much like its relatives, Cimex latipennis has a flat, oval body with a reddish-brown color. It also has tiny hair-like structures, but identification often requires more than just visual examination due to its resemblance to other Cimex species.

Habitat: This bat bug is native to the Pacific regions of North America, especially in areas where bats roost. It can be found in secluded areas, old buildings, attics, and caves.

Hosts: Bats are the primary hosts for Cimex latipennis. However, in the absence of bats, these bugs can shift to feeding on humans, causing similar bite symptoms as bed bugs.


Bat bugs are most common in places with a significant presence of bats, making houses and buildings with bat infestations in areas like Iowa their favorite dwelling spot.


Primarily, bat bugs feed on bat blood. However, if they deviate from the bat roost areas, they won’t hesitate to feed on other warm-blooded creatures, including humans. These bites, while causing discomfort and annoyance, are relatively harmless. As of current understanding, bat bugs have not been linked to transmitting diseases to humans.

How to eliminate Bat Bugs

Successfully managing bat bugs hinges on two main steps:

  1. Eliminating Bats

The primary step in controlling bat bugs is the removal of bats from the structure. This does not involve using pesticides but rather focuses on exclusion techniques. You can prevent bats from entering the building by sealing off entrances, like cracks and holes. The best time to carry out these exclusion measures is between late summer and fall.

  1. Treating the Infestation

Once bats are eliminated, focus shifts to managing the bugs. Residual insecticides, specifically labeled for indoor use against bat bugs, can be applied to their common hiding spots, including cracks and crevices. However, treating the bugs without addressing the bat infestation offers only a temporary solution and is unlikely to solve the problem long-term.


What are bat bugs?

Bat bugs are small, blood-feeding insects closely related to bed bugs. They primarily feed on bats but can feed on other warm-blooded animals, including humans, if bats are not around.

How can I differentiate between bat bugs and bed bugs?

While both species look very similar, there are minor differences in appearance. Bat bugs are hairier with longer fringe hairs on their pronotum, which are as long or longer than the width of their eye. Accurate differentiation often requires a microscope or hand lens.

How can I prevent bat bug infestations in my home?

The primary way to prevent a bat bug infestation is by ensuring that bats are not roosting in your home or nearby structures. Regularly inspect for signs of bats and seal any cracks or holes that could serve as entry points.

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