Bat Bug

Encyclopedia Article

Description of bat bugs

Bat bugs are moderately common in Iowa and are found in houses and buildings that are infested with bats. The bat bug is a very close relative to the bed bug. The two species look so much alike that microscopic examination is needed to confidently tell them apart.

The fringe hairs on the pronotum of the bat bug (R) are as long or longer than the width of the eye; the thorax fringe-hairs are shorter in the bed bug (L). From Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet "Bat Bugs" (HYG-2105A-05)
The fringe hairs on the pronotum of the bat
bug (R) are as long or longer than the width of
the eye; the thorax fringe-hairs are shorter in
the bed bug (L). From Ohio State University
Extension Fact Sheet "Bat Bugs"
(HYG-2105A-05)

Damage caused by bat bugs

Bat bugs feed on blood from bats, but when they wander away from the bat roost area, they will feed on other warm-blooded animals, including people. This feeding is an annoyance but is not dangerous. Bat bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases.

Management of bat bugs

Controlling bat bugs requires the elimination of any bats that are present in the home or building. This is accomplished by exclusion techniques also known as "building them out" (i.e., sealing entrance cracks and holes). There are no pesticides to control bats in attics. The best time to seal bats out of the house is late summer to fall. In addition to eliminating the bats you may need to control the bugs themselves. This can be done by applying residual insecticides labeled for indoor use against bat bugs to cracks, crevices, or other bat bug hiding places. For more information on insecticides please see this article. Spraying without eliminating the bats will probably provide short-term, temporary benefit but is not likely to completely control the problem.

Do you live in Iowa and have an insect you would like identified?

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic will identify your insect, provide information on what it eats, life cycle, and if it is a pest the best ways to manage them.  Please see our website for current forms, fees, and instructions on preserving and mailing insects.   

Contact information for each states diagnostic laboratory for U.S. residents.  If you live outside of Iowa please do not submit a sample without contacting the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic.  

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