What are the differences between a bed bug and a roach?

Walking into your kitchen and seeing a disgusting roach feeding on the bread crumbs you’ve left, or waking up in the morning noticing the red itchy welts on your legs… Sounds familiar? If yes, then you’re facing a bug problem. I am sure you are already aware of this! But, don’t panic just yet — you are not alone.

Bed bugs and roaches are two of the most common pests that you can get in your home, and although it’s not easy to kill them, it’s not impossible.

What you need is to understand the difference between a bed bug v a roach and the way they function, so that you know exactly what you are dealing with, and what you can do to get rid of them.


Roach v bed bugs the difference

How to spot bed bugs and roaches?

There are a few easy ways which can help you understand who you are facing: a bed bug or a cockroach. So, let’s start with: what do bed bugs look like?


Bed Bug

bed bug

These small, ultra annoying pests have a reddish-brown color, they are small… about the size of an apple seed, they have flat oval-shaped bodies. Bed bugs have short antennas and eyes that look like they are sticking out of the body.

Also, bed bugs rarely grow bigger than 5 mm.


Cockroach

Roaches, on the other hand, can be as small as 5 mm (which is why people can get confused between a roach ad a bed bug) and as big as 3 cm — it all depends on the types of roaches. They also have a flat oval-shaped body, but their antennas can be much longer and their eyes are smaller.

cockroach

The color of cockroaches can vary from light-brown to black. By the way, you might not know it, but cockroaches have wings.

Luckily for us, they don’t even need this function, as the food they are looking for can be found on easily accessible surfaces. Most roaches are terrible at flying, or just can’t fly at all.

What about baby roaches? Because of their small size, they are often mistaken for bed bugs.

Of course, you could check their antennas and eye shape, but it’s not that easy to spot those details on a tiny bug.


Can You Have Bed Bugs and Roaches At The Same Time?

Bad news: yes, you can. The nature of those pests is completely different, so you can have an infestation of bed bugs and roaches simultaneously. On the plus side, the difference in their nature might help you recognize if you have cockroaches or bedbugs (let’s try to find positive things, right?)

Cockroaches are ‘trash’ bugs, they prefer damp places with a lot of garbage, food leftovers, and other mess of any kind. German roaches, for example, can be spotted next to the water. Because of that, cockroaches are the ‘best friends’ of kitchens and bathrooms. They feed on the tiniest pieces of food left on the table — and that’s why they are so common.

Sure, you can keep your kitchen sparkly clean, but one drop of sauce left somewhere in the corner can be the beginning of the infestation. Food is the most common attraction for roaches in your house.

Bed bugs, as it’s clear from their name, mostly live in beds. While evolving, they got rid of the wings to be able to fit into the narrow spaces, like under the mattresses. However, bedbugs can be also noticed in those places:

  • wardrobes;
  • behind posters & pictures;
  • behind loose wallpapers;
  • between sofa cushions;
  • inside electrical outlets;
  • carpets.

Both bugs are nocturnal so it’s pretty complicated to spot them, but you can always use the light and magnifying glass to analyze the surfaces and look for tiny dark spots (bugs’ droppings) and pale yellowish eggs.


What is worse: a bed bug or a roach?

Having either of those pests is already a nightmare: you can’t feel clean and safe in your own house. However, we can compare the harm from both of them to see what’s worse.

Bites. Do roaches bite? Almost never. They feed on garbage, not on blood, so humans are not interesting for them. Even the tiniest bit of garbage is way more attractive for a roach than you. In the situation of the total absence of anything to feed on, they can bite you, just to check if you are food (which you are not). The bite from a cockroach will be felt and spotted immediately.

Bed bug bites, on contrary, are a common problem. The only source of food for them is blood. Because of having some special chemical in their saliva, they can feed on you for the whole night without you waking up (the place of a bite will be numb). That’s why you can wake up with dozens of bites on your body.

Both bites of roaches and bedbugs are red, swollen, and itchy.

Infections & diseases. Bed bugs bite our bodies, but there is no proof they carry any diseases and share them between people. The biology of those pests allows them to fully digest the blood, so by the time they bite another person they are totally ‘clean’.

The situation is not that easy with cockroaches. They don’t bite, but they spread dysentery, salmonella, and other diseases by crawling on your food and preparing surfaces. If you are lucky, you may just get food poisoning, but the consequences might get a little more serious.

Ways to kill… Let’s just say getting rid of bed bugs considered to be way harder — not just because they are smaller, but because they are so ubiquitous it takes time to fully exterminate them.


How to get rid of bed bugs and roaches?

It’s never easy to kill any type of pest, but bed bugs and roaches are notorious for their tenacity. Let’s consider the best way to get rid of roaches and to kill the bed bugs.


Roaches

After identifying the location of them (by spotting the eggs&droppings), start the extermination by sealing the ‘cockroach entry point’ spaces with caulk. That can be the gaps between tiles, in the wall, behind the stove — anywhere those pests can come through (if, of course, you don’t want even more bugs).

Set some roach traps up in the best places too!

The next step will be choosing the way of extermination. We recommend either boric acid for roaches or gel baits. They can be also used at the same time. Apply the chemicals only in the places where it can be attractive for pests but not accessible for pets and children. Be ready to see some dead bugs in the room, that’s how they die after poisoning.

Also, keep in mind that you can’t get rid of roaches overnight, so have some patience.


Bed bugs

Here comes the difficult part. The process of getting rid of these pests contains several steps.

  1. After examination, clean all the locations of bugs with a vacuum cleaner, including the mattresses, floor, carpets, pictures, spaces behind the pictures, etc.
  2. Seal the vacuumed bag, throw it away, wash your vacuum cleaner thoroughly.
  3. Wash all the bedsheets and everything that can be washed with the highest possible temperature.
  4. If it can’t be washed, either throw it away or put it away in a sealed pack for half a year.
  5. If the previous steps didn’t help, use insecticides such as pyrethrins or neonicotinoids.

You can use eucalyptus oil to get rid of bed bugs, which is one of my favorite natural ways to get rid of them!


Conclusion

This post has given you some details on the difference between a roach v a bed bug so you can now identify which of these mini beasts you are dealing with.

As for getting rid of them… Nothing is impossible. Though it’s not an easy problem to handle, and it definitely causes a little stress, if you are persistent and putting enough effort into extermination, you will likely get the result you want.

And, surely, let’s not forget to keep our kitchens clean, our bathrooms dry, and our bedsheets fresh: at the end, prevention is always better than cure!

Good luck!

About the Author

Pest Pro

Since 2008, I have become far too obsessed with DIY methods to get rid of pests! From cockroaches, woodlouse, ants, and other crawling pests, to flying pests such as mosquitos, I have searched far and wide for the best ways to combat these critters.

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