If you find a bug in your bed, don't automatically assume it is a bed bug. Though it is technically an accurate name at the precise moment you find a bug tucked between your sheets, you may have a different bug altogether. There are many bugs that look a little like a bed bug, and even more that don't mind tucking themselves in your sheets. We'll look at the ones that are similar in appearance and discuss the possible dangers of each.
The bed bug, or Cimex lectularius, gets its name from the fact that your bed is the most likely place this bug is going to bite you. This is a blood eating insect, but unlike a mosquito, it doesn't have the ability to fly after its meal. It has to wait till those big, warm blooded, carbon dioxide breathing, animals lay down. That is when mealtime begins. And, they take full advantage of it. Entomologists jokingly refer to a line of bed bug bites as breakfast, lunch and supper. If you have bed bugs, you can expect to be bitten several times while you sleep. And, you can expect to get red, mosquito-type welts on your skin, if you are allergic to the anticoagulant they use to thin your blood and suck it out of your skin. If this is the bug you've found, it will have an oval abdomen and a tiny tick-like head, and be just about the size of a grain of rice, if it hasn't eaten recently. If it is bloated with blood, it can be quite round and gross.
Ticks. Though it is usually a bed bug that is mistaken for a tick, it can be the other way as well. These two bugs have many traits in common, including their oval balloon belly, little head, and shiny brown coloring. But a ticks legs look more like a spider, and bed bugs have legs that have more in common with a roach.
Cockroach nymphs. If you have a baby cockroach crawling around on your bed, you may be tempted to think it is a bed bug, but look closely. Those little roaches can't hide those distinct cockroach antennae. Their shining, hard skin makes them considerably more revolting to look at as well.
Carpet beetles. This beetle comes in many shapes and colors, and some of them look very similar to bed bugs, in shape, but they do not match the bed bugs nasty brown coloring. Beetles also have a harder shell, that conceals a pair of wings. Thankfully, as we discussed earlier, bed bugs can't fly.
Spider beetles. Of all the beetles out there, the spider beetle is the most likely to get mistaken for a bed bug, not because it looks like one, but because it looks like a creepy, blood sucking bug. If I were to place bets, I would guess this is the beetle that inspired the Volkswagen car design.
If you find a bug in your bed, and identify it as a bed bug, don't wait to have a pest company come in and inspect. Bed bug populations can grow quickly, and it won't be long till your body is covered in bites each morning. This is a pernicious bug to eradicate. Get it done quick, and get it done right. Then, you'll be able to sleep tight, and, well...you know the rest.