Bed Bugs vs Roaches: Similarities & Differences (Everything)

There are many irritating things in this world, but nothing will irritate you more than bed bug and roach infestations.

If not treated, a roach infestation can become the cause of many serious health problems and hygiene issues. Whereas, ignoring bed bugs infestation can cause serious allergies, secondary skin infections, and can also affect mental health.

However, in a battle of roaches vs. bed bugs, it is not easy to determine which one of these is more dangerous.

Therefore, in this article, we will discuss everything you need to know to identify them so that you can take on appropriate measures to eliminate them permanently.

What’s Worse Roaches or Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs or cockroaches, both types of infestations are a pain to have. But which one of these can be worse than the other? To answer this question, we have to dig deeper into their lifestyle. 

There are several factors that we need to consider while determining which of these can be worse than the other. These factors include how they bite, how often they bite, there size, the diseases they spread, the effect they have on humans, places where they could infest, how difficult it is to eliminate them, and how quickly can they come back.

When you consider all these factors, you will probably find bed bugs to be worse than roaches. This is mainly because eliminating bed bugs is a much bigger and difficult process than eliminating roaches.

Yes, roaches can be more harmful and can spread serious diseases like Dysentery and Salmonella if the infestation is not treated. But they are bigger and can be easily spotted. Since they are big and easily visible, locating and eliminating them is significantly easier.

However, when it comes to bed bugs, even the adult ones are 1/5 of an inch long, making them very difficult to spot. Moreover, bed bugs usually hide in hard-to-get places like inside the mattress and bedroom furniture. If you want to eliminate them, you will have to go through a long and tedious process that may affect you both mentally and financially.

Apart from all this, bed bug bites are the most irritating. Roaches do not bite unless and until they do not have anything to eat. However, bed bugs bite every night and can leave multiple bite marks on the body. You might not notice their bites in the beginning, but when they are done, the bites turn into a swollen and itchy spot, causing great irritation.

Therefore, considering all the factors, bed bugs are worse than roaches, mainly because they are difficult to spot, bite every day, and require a lot of time and effort to eliminate. However, when it comes to hygiene and spreading diseases, roaches take the worst pest award.

Difference between Bed Bugs and Cockroaches

There are plenty of differences between a bed bug and a cockroach. They live, eat, and look differently, and these differences are the prime reasons why a house can have both of these infestations at the same time. Given below are some common differences between a bed bug and a cockroach.

  • Bed bugs are very small in size, whereas roaches are considerably larger and easily visible
  • Bed bugs feed solely on human and animal blood, but roaches are known scavengers and can consume anything eatable they find
  • Bed bugs bite every night, but roaches bite only when they cannot find food
  • Bed bugs live in small tight bedroom spaces like inside the mattress and bedside furniture, but roaches usually survive in damp places where food is available like under the sink, garbage dump, etc.
  • Bed bugs do not have wings and cannot fly, but roaches can fly

Apart from these differences, it is also important for you to understand how these pests look like. Given below is a brief explanation of how each of these pests looks so that you can identify them easily.

Appearance of Bed Bugs

In size comparison, adult bed bugs are as small as an apple seed. They are insects without wings and their body is flat and oval. They are usually identified through their reddish-brown colour and the way they crawl rapidly. They bite very frequently to feed on the blood. After feeding, their nymphs become clear in colour and show bright red.

Comparison of cockroaches and bed bugs

Appearance of Cockroaches

When it comes to roaches, they can be easily identified. They have a comparatively large body and can be easily spotted even from a distance. They have a flat body which is oval and can have more or less 6 legs. Roaches also have two antennae’s protruding from their head part. However, the presence of antennae’s may vary from species to species.

Roaches vs bed bugs

What everybody doesn’t know about cockroaches is that they have wings and can even fly. But they don’t always use their wings as there is no need to and are often seen crawling at a rapid pace. Also, not every roach flies, so having wings and flight again varies from species to species.

Moreover, roaches can be found in light tan to brown color, and sometimes even in black. Some roach species may also have stripes or bands on their heads and back.

Baby Cockroaches vs. Bed Bugs

An adult cockroach will not look like a bed bug in any way. However, a baby cockroach may look very similar considering their size and color is almost the same. Because of their strong physical resemblance, homeowners fail to recognize baby roaches and think that there is no cockroach infestation and that it is simply some other bug.

Baby roaches are commonly seen in white or greyish color and are of size smaller than the bed bugs. On the other hand, bed bugs are brown or reddish and have a flat oval-shaped body. However, due to their small size, it is very difficult to identify which is which. Most commonly, cockroach nymphs are the only roaches that may look like bed bugs.

In any case, the best way to differentiate between a cockroach nymph and a bed bug is through their eyes and antennae. Bed bugs have distinct eyes that somehow stick out of the rest of the body and have antennae shorter than that of a cockroach. 

Therefore, the easiest way to differentiate between these two bugs is through the shape of their eyes and the length of the antennae.

If the length of the antennae on a tiny crawling bug is as long as its body, then it’s mostly a small cockroach and you might have a bad infestation in your house. However, if you see a similar bug crawling in your bedroom near your bed and have eyes sticking out of their body with small antennae, then it is a bed bug and you may have a bed bug infestation.

Roach Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites

Cockroaches and bed bugs, both of these insect species bite. However, out of these two, bed bugs are more notorious for their bites and bite more frequently than any bug. This is because bed bugs are parasitic creature and they feed on people’s blood for their daily meal. Once they are done, there bites become red, swollen, itchy and very painful.

On the other hand, roaches do not bite much. They commonly feed on scraps and throw out food, and not on blood. But they do tend to bite when they have no food available around and the only option is to check whether you are something eatable or not. However, if there is a garbage dump around, then they will always go for the dump rather than biting.

Effect of Bites

In any case, the main difference between a bed bug bite and a cockroach bite is the effect the bites cause. When bed bugs bite, they use a salivary chemical compound that numbs the bite site, and you don’t feel their bites at all. This allows them to feed comfortably without getting noticed.

However, after a while, our body’s histamine process kicks in, and the bites turn red, swollen, and itchy. If there is a significantly large bed bug infestation, then you may end up having dozens of bites in a single night.

Whereas, cockroaches are not used to feeding on blood or other animals, so you can feel their bites straight away. Their bites too swell up and start to itch, just like a bed bug bite. In any case, both types of bites can get infected when the wound is scratched and opened up, but the roach bites are more likely to get infected because of their unhygienic lifestyle.

Treatment for Bites

When a cockroach bites, the first thing to do is not scratch it. Roach bites can be very itchy and scratching it will only open the wound, increasing the risk of allergies and germ transmission. The next step is to wash the area around the bite with soapy water. This will kill any germs, bacteria, and allergens left behind by the roach.

After washing the bite, you can apply ice on it to relieve swelling and itchiness. Apart from using ice, rubbing onion on the bitten area is also considered as an effective solution. You can also apply alcohol or baking soda paste on the wound to reduce the inflammation.

Now, when it comes to bed bug bites, they are proven to be rarely dangerous. Although they can be very itchy and the bite area usually turns red and swollen, they do not spread any harmful diseases or infections. However, in rare cases, they do become infected and can even cause an allergic reaction.

Usually, bed bug bites get better in one or two weeks. However, if you want immediate relief from the bites, you can use an anti-itch cream or calamine lotions applied directly on the bites. In any case, you should prevent scratching the bite areas and wash them with soap and water to eliminate any chances of allergies.

In rare cases, bed bug bites can cause a serious infection known as cellulitis. If such a case occurs, or if the bites cause some other serious allergic reaction, then it is best recommended to visit the doctor immediately.

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Final Words

Even in the year, 2020, cockroach and bed bug infestations are a common problem. The most irritating thing about these pests is that no matter how cleanly you eliminate them, there is still a chance for them to infest your house.

Therefore, everyone needs to keep an eye on these bugs at all times. For that, you should be able to properly identify which insect is which. Not knowing which insect has infested your house will only increase the problems while eliminating them. Hence, keep your house clean and conduct proper maintenance regularly.

2 thoughts on “Bed Bugs vs Roaches: Similarities & Differences (Everything)

  1. HV

    I think you should add a paragraph or two about how to difference between baby cockroaches and adult bedbugs, because they are the same size and look very similar. Lastnight I just used a synthetic piretroid formula in my matress to kill bedbugs, but I ended up finding what looks like a couple of baby cockroaches. Im thinking this, because they do have stripes on their bodies, and their bodies look slightly different than normal bedbugs, but Im not sure.

    1. Dinesh Kumar

      Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll do.

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