9 Common Bugs That Look Like Ticks But Are Not

What bugs can be mistaken for ticks? Here are some insect pests that look like ticks.

When dealing with a pest problem, the need for proper identification is crucial to the treatment process.

As weather conditions become warmer, it gives rise to the emergence of a wide range of bugs. Now, some of these are notorious blood feeders and cause significant levels of discomfort to humans and animals.

To fight these (bloodsucking bugs), you’ll need to be able to tell one apart from the other. In this article, we take a look at one notorious blood-feeding bug which has tons of look-alikes.

Ticks are among the common pests that target humans and animals. Effective treatment will require proper identification.

About Ticks

Before we go further, we’ll need to take a look at ticks and the risks they pose. Ticks are basically parasitic arachnids that vary in size.

You’ll find sizes as tiny as a pinhead, and as large as a pencil eraser. They primarily depend on blood to survive and also pose a significant level of risk (health-related) through their feeding activity.

Common diseases transmitted by ticks include rocky mountain spotted fever, powassan disease, rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Borrelia mayonii, and ehrlichiosis.

Others include Colorado tick fever, bourbon virus, Lyme disease, and heartland virus. These and many other diseases are transmitted to hosts during feeding.

i. Tick Identification

Proper tick identification will require figuring out the specific species you wish to look at.

Some common tick species include the western black-legged tick, deer tick, American dog tick, lone star tick, and the brown dog tick among others.

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Comparing the different species will show certain similarities and differences.

  • Western Blacklegged Tick

Compared to the deer tick, there are similarities between the two. However, one feature that readily stands out is the location they’re found.

As the name implies, western black-legged ticks are found on the western coast of the United States. Also, the western black-legged tick tends to have a more oval body than the deer tick.

  • Deer Tick

Deer ticks tend to be among the smallest of all tick species in the United States and Canada.

You’ll find these having a reddish coloration and bearing a solid black dorsal shield. These come with long and thin mouthparts and grow to about the size of a sesame seed in adulthood.

  • American Dog Tick

This tick species is brown in color with ornate dorsal shields. Ready hosts include dogs and humans. Their short-pointed mouthparts are well adapted for feeding.

  • Lone Star Tick

The name of this tick is derived from the white dot the females bear on their dorsal shield. They’re medium-sized and have a reddish-brown color with a round body.

The mouthparts of the lone star tick are long and thin.

  • Brown Dog Tick

The brown dog tick can be identified by its elongated body that’s reddish-brown. This tick species can be found on both animal and human hosts.

Bugs Identical to Ticks

All our discussion to this point was necessary to highlight the differences between ticks and identical bugs.

Many bugs that only share identical characteristics with ticks do not feed on blood. It’s also important to note that the resemblance isn’t always striking.

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We’ve only mentioned some of these bugs as there are lots of them to go through.

Examples of tick look-alikes include varied carpet beetle, fleas, bed bugs, the head louse, carpet beetles, berry bugs, clover mite, brown marmorated stink bugs, and spider beetles, pseudoscorpions, weevil beetles, and aphids.

For a better idea of what these bugs are, we’ll have to go beyond mentioning their names to knowing more about what they’re like.

  • Varied Carpet Beetle

True to their name, carpet beetles are known to target carpets including items made of leader, silk, felt, feathers, fur, and wool among others.

Compared to ticks who feed on blood, there’s a clear difference in food preference.

  • Fleas

Like ticks, fleas are blood feeders that primarily target animals. These parasites won’t hesitate to draw some blood from human hosts as well.

Fleas are among bugs that share some form of resemblance with ticks. However, it’s safe to say the resemblance isn’t as striking as some would think.

  • Bed Bugs

Bed bugs easily fall into the category of the most dreaded pests to deal with due to their feeding behavior and the difficulty controlling them.

Ticks are easier to deal with than these bugs. If you are confused about differentiating ticks from bed bugs, you only need to search online for pictures to compare.

  • Head Louse

The head louse is another tick look-alike that targets the scalp. It feeds on blood and causes tremendous discomfort that results in itchiness.

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Getting rid of the head louse can be difficult, especially when dealing with a full-blown infestation.

  • Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles can sometimes be confused for ticks due to some type of similarity.

However, the main difference between the two is what they feed on. If you’ve spotted these beetles around but have not been bitten, chances are it’s something different.

  • Clover Mite

Clover mites are among bugs that look like ticks but aren’t.

They easily become a nuisance but don’t bite or feed on blood. These mites are reddish in color and feed on weeds, clover, and plants.

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Persons with little to no experience in identifying ticks are likely to mistake these bugs for ticks. Like ticks, their presence in homes isn’t welcome in most cases.

So, you’ll need to call for professional pest identification and control when these are noticed.

  • Spider Beetles

These harmless creatures take a resemblance to spiders in addition to having some physical attributes of ticks. There are some differences that can be spotted when spider beetles are compared side by side with ticks.

  • Pseudoscorpions

Pseudoscorpions may sometimes be mistaken for ticks. However, unlike ticks, these arachnids only prey on mites, small insects, and larvae. They do not feed on blood.

After taking a look at the different bugs that look like ticks, it’s clear that these don’t necessarily have a striking resemblance or target the same host.

Whatever confusion you have, you can make quick research by searching for pictures online or simply calling for a professional inspection.

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