Are the black bugs in my bed bed bugs?

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key point:

  • There are many kinds of small black bugs. If you observe carefully, many of them are not bedbugs.
  • Most black bug infestations can be resolved using home remedies
  • Check bed frames, headboards, and mattress crevices frequently, use traps to catch insects, and inspect carefully for proper identification.

If you see small black bugs around the house, especially in your bed, you might think they are bedbugs. Bedbugs, of course, are the dreaded little insects that hide behind light pipes, in cushions and behind peeling wallpaper. However, they are more commonly known for their love of living in your mattress and box springs. However, the presence of black bugs on sheets does not indicate a bed bug infestation. In this blog, we'll learn the facts behind these unpleasant little black critters invading your space, the differences between pests, infestation identification, and how to get rid of the little black bugs.

First, if you're trying to determine if something is a bed bug, we recommend Harris Bed Bug Traps. They're affordable, easy to place, and come in packs of 20, allowing you to trap bedbugs (and other critters) and examine them more closely to see if you actually have bedbugs or one of the other insects listed below.

best bed bug traps

Types of black bugs

Tiny black bugs are not bed bugs. To be sure, for many of these insects, bites aren't a problem. The first thing to remember is that bedbugs are brown or reddish brown (or dark blood red if well fed). They are also oval. While bed bugs do bite, they are never black.

Any small black bugs in sheets or soft furniture may look like this:

  • spider beetle
  • black carpet beetle
  • flea
  • cockroach nymph
  • bat bug

spider beetle

Comparing size, spider beetles have larger bodies. They're more pantry invaders than bed dwellers. But these creatures are not nomadic. Anywhere they land, especially if there is a tiny food source, becomes their living space. If they find a place to lay their eggs, the insects hang up a "Sweet Home" sign.

These insects are reddish-black or reddish-brown in color, so the untrained eye can easily confuse them with bedbugs. But spider beetles are shiny and redder than bedbugs. They are also more spider-like, with three pairs of legs and antennae. Bedbugs are flat. Spider beetles have a hump. They also don't leave bites. These creatures prefer dry food and bread crumbs.

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Is the black bug in my bed bedbug 1
Spider beetles are larger than bed bugs and inhabit storage rooms.

©Henrik Larsson/Shutterstock.com

black carpet beetle

Black carpet beetles are brown or black. They may have spots on their backs. These insects lay their eggs on materials and fabrics made from animal products. We're talking leather, silk, wool, feathers, etc.

Black carpet beetles seem to find their way to beds in many infestations. Like bedbugs, they are oval in shape, but slightly larger. They hide in the little gaps between the headboard and the mattress and bed frame. You'll find them crawling all over your sheets and blankets because – unlike bedbugs – black bugs are not nocturnal vampires who do their best (worst?) work at night.

flea

Fleas are tiny parasites that may appear black due to their size. But they're actually brown and, like bedbugs, survive by biting and sucking blood. They usually enter the home through pets. A good identification of fleas is frequent scratching by household pets. If so, you may have a problem.

Female fleas lay up to 50 eggs per day. The next generation of female fleas will produce 50 fleas. A flea can survive for up to three months without blood if left unattended. This means that over time, a single female can shed thousands of eggs in her home. Flea infestations happen quickly, and you must act quickly to stop them.

cockroach nymph

Cockroaches are nomadic by nature. If you find small bugs in your bed, chances are they're in transit. Nymphs are often mistaken for bedbugs because we see tiny black bugs and think the worst. Cockroaches prefer dark places and closed food sources. They're always looking for this, which is why they're pretty much everywhere. Bedbugs settle down and only come out to feed on their hosts.

bat bug

Bat bugs are similar in appearance to bedbugs, including the oval shape and size of an apple seed. They also have wing pads, but cannot fly. The pest differs in that the bat bug has long hairs on its head. These critters are often found in places where bats rest, including caves, chimneys, and attics. But if the bugs find themselves left behind as the bat dies or takes off, the bat bugs relocate and emerge in the home's bed.

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While black pests don't drink blood like bedbugs, the fact is that they will feed on human blood if no bats are nearby. An interesting note here, bat bugs cannot reproduce without bats as food. Therefore, any bat bug incursion – depending on the infestation – may not last long, especially if you get rid of them properly.

Look for Signs of a Black Bug Infestation

If you're wondering if you're facing an infestation of these black insects, this is what you're looking for.

  • Keep an eye out for eggs. They are small and often found in the crevices of the bed frame, on the mattress and around the bed.
  • If you notice a musty, damp smell in your bedroom, you're looking for a resource that little black bugs crave.
  • Watch out for small eggshells or insect droppings around the bedroom, especially on the bed.
  • You may experience the following: insect wings, dead insects, body parts. Those were insect remains, a sure sign that someone was hiding somewhere.
Cockroach nymphs are mistaken for bed bugs because we tend to think the worst when we find bed bugs in our beds.

© bamgraphy/Shutterstock.com

get rid of little black bugs

Insect infestations can be harmful to health, furniture and food. They can also be awkward. Here are some tips for minimizing their presence in the home.

clean closets regularly

Black bugs may end up in your bed, but you can prevent them from entering your bedroom by keeping your closets and pantry clean. These bugs feed on fibers, and many lay their eggs in the fabric. Cleaned closets will remove bug eggs and drive out intruders.

maintain your pantry

Make sure to check your pantry regularly. Depending on the species, black bugs find themselves attracted to different types of food. This includes syrups and sugary substances, grains, and old foods that smell musty. Make sure you are not holding expired products. Check the container if an insect has somehow entered it.

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peppermint

Take one drop of peppermint oil and mix it with one ounce of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and get to work. Insects hate touch and smell. They will look elsewhere. As an added bonus, the mint aroma helps keep the air fresh.

neem oil

The truth is that neem oil is a natural insecticide that kills all types of insects and bugs without causing harm to the household residents. Spray neem oil in bedrooms and anywhere else to help control black bug infestations.

use de

Diatomaceous earth is a highly toxic insect solution. Extracted from single-celled algae, it's especially effective against bugs with tough exoskeletons. DE poses no threat to humans or pets and will kill any insects it comes in contact with within two days.

pack

Wash and heat dry or steam frequently to keep bedding clean. Wraps can also help, preventing black bugs from hiding in your box springs and mattresses. But they must be well packaged (e.g. the right size) and fitted correctly. Creatures hiding in beds will find themselves trapped. New bugs will be inaccessible and easy to spot.

get exterminator

If any of the above home remedies don't work, contact a pest control professional. Most offer free inspection, error identification, and estimation. They have the expertise and experience to manage any black bugs in your bed.

Blackworm summary:

  • bat bug
  • cockroach nymph
  • flea
  • black carpet beetle
  • spider beetle

Next…

  • Bed Bug Treatment: 7 Ways to Deal with a Bed Bug Infestation. So what to do if you do have bed bugs? What can you do to get rid of them?
  • 5 early signs of bed bugs. Want to catch them early? Here are the first signs to watch out for.
  • What do beetles actually eat?

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about the author

Heather Hall


I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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