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It can be difficult to tell the difference. Here's how to tell a tick from a bed bug in Massachusetts.

Cue dramatic music: You’ve found a bug on your clothing. Now you need to establish threat level. Are we talking squish-and-discard, or full-blown flamethrower? Two culprits in the pest world frequently found on clothing are bed bugs and ticks. The good news is, if it’s a tick, it might be alone. The bad news is, if it’s a bed bug, there are probably plenty more where that came from. Here’s a quick summary of how to tell a tick from a bed bug.

Tick or Bed Bug?Appearance. Both ticks and bed bugs are oval-shaped, somewhat flat, and wingless. Depending on the tick species, they may even appear the same color. So how the heck do you tell them apart? For starters, adult bed bugs are usually larger than an unfed tick. An adult tick is around 1-2mm while an adult bed bug is between 3-5mm. If you’re brave enough to get up close and personal, a tick will have 8 legs while a bed bug has six.

Unfortunately, it’s easiest to spot the difference after the pest has had a meal. A bed bug’s reddish-brown color will appear darker after feeding, and a tick full of blood will inflate.

Tick or Bed Bug?Habitat. Neither bed bugs nor ticks can fly, so they must hitchhike to travel long distances. Ticks usually hop onto people, pets, or wildlife walking past in tall grass or wooded areas. Bed bugs are most often caught by contact with an infestation, where they can hitch a ride inside luggage and backpacks, on clothing or public transportation, even inside secondhand furniture.

If you’ve been traveling, it’s a good idea to inspect your home and body for signs of bed bugs. If you’ve been outdoors recently, be sure to check yourself, children, and pets for ticks.

Strength in numbers. It’s rare for ticks to breed inside homes, whereas that’s exactly what bed bugs do. If you see multiple invaders in your home, it’s likely you are not dealing with ticks.

What about bites? It’s hard to tell ticks from bed bugs based on bites alone. Bites from both pests affect people differently. Often, bed bug bites will be in lines or clusters, and itchy, but some people don’t react at all. Ticks attach to their host, as opposed to feeding and retreating like bed bugs do. Either way, don’t try to guess based on bites or itching.

If you are unsure, it’s wise to save a specimen for an expert to identify. Accurate identification is crucial in determining proper treatment. The real good news is, both ticks and bed bugs can be controlled with the help of a pest management professional. Call Burgess Pest for an estimate and let us put your worries to bed.

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Topics: Cape Cod Pest Control, bed bugs, massachusetts pest control, bed bug control, pest control tips, south shore pest control, tick control

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