Bed Bugs vs Ants – Facts and Tips on How to Tell Their Bites Apart

Insects differ from one another. This may seem like it’s no big deal. But when it comes to bed bugs vs ants, you have to know how they look, behave and bite. These are all for the advantage of identifying the right treatment to use. After all, you can’t effectively kill a pest if you don’t know which one of them is attacking you.

Here are a few facts you need to know before considering the next step in dealing with your unwelcome houseguests.

bed bugs vs ants

Even if bed bugs and ants are both insects, they look completely different from each other. CC Image courtesy of Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack; Piotr Naskrecki on Wikipedia and Sancho McCann on Flickr

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Differences in Appearance

Although both of bugs have bodies of true insects, it’s no grand secret that bed bugs and ants are totally different.

Ants are built for whatever their purpose is. Workers and foragers have more elongated bodies that are made for crawling great distances with speed. Meanwhile, soldier ants have big heads and mandibles for fighting off enemies.

In contrast, bed bugs all have a flat tank-like anatomy that relies mostly on gripping and precise movements. They have hook-like feet that can grab on to most surfaces and abdomens that can expand after feeding on blood.

And for their size, bed bugs are mostly smaller than ants, but that depends entirely on what species of ants and bed bugs we’re trying to compare.

In any case, there’s really no chance that you won’t be able to tell these insects apart.

Learn more about an ant’s appearance here.

Differences in Behavior

Looking at the two insects, we’d say that bed bugs lead a much simpler life compared to ants.

Ants are eusocial insects that basically live to help their colony grow and spread. They’re known to help each other in taking care of their young, getting food, protecting themselves and in building their home. Their social nature can also be seen in their strict caste system that sets roles and responsibilities for each ant.

Ants obviously don’t seek out humans for food even though their diet is composed of just about anything. So when they’re in your house, they prefer sweet and fatty food debris and leftovers. They’re mostly seen scavenging for those foods, to bring them back to their colony.

Bed bugs, however, are more laidback and simple. They’re don’t have the cooperative nature that ants have, and they definitely don’t live in well-designed colonies. They stay in places that are readily available to hide in, and they come out only to feed on your blood. Once full, they get back into hiding. They also mate and reproduce in the same place.

Needless to say, beg bugs are true parasites that definitely can’t live without their hosts.

Differences in Their Bites/ Stings

Probably the only time that you’ll confuse the two insects is when you examine their bites. They’d have very similar bites, if not for those few clues that bed bugs usually leave.

Bed bug bites produce itchy dark red bumps. The dead giveaway is how they’re clustered. These bites are usually in a group or line of three (or more), following the “breakfast-lunch-dinner” pattern. They’re also usually found in your arms, hands and in your upper extremities.

Meanwhile, ant bites or stings also produce red bumps. But they can be both painful and itchy. Sometimes, the bite/sting can cause a major swelling in the affected area.

But all these depend on the kind of ant that attacked you. Fire ants, for example, are unlike the others. They can give you white pustules at the center of the red bumps and a sharp burning sensation. That’s because they inject a potent acid that can severely irritate your skin.

Both bugs can cause allergic reactions. But if you don’t have any history in that, it’s important to stop scratching so that those bites or stings won’t turn into blisters.

So for bed bugs vs ants, bed bugs are more laidback and disorganized. They live a purely parasitic life that’s very different from ants. For us, what connects the two insects together is their bites. They may look similar. But if you look close enough, you can tell that the two have very different bite patterns.

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