You are here
Need to know
- Bat bugs are moderately common in Iowa, and are a very close relative to the bed bug, so much so that microscopic examination is needed to identify the differences.
- 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.
- Bat bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases.
- Control requires eliminating bats from the structure and may require applying residual insecticides labeled for indoor use against bat bugs to cracks, crevices, or other bat bug hiding places.
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.
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. Spraying without eliminating the bats will probably provide short-term, temporary benefits 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 state's 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.
Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on . The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.