Colorado residents face blood-sucking bat bugs

This is a photograph of a female bed bug, which looks identical to a bat bug. Only a trained professional would be able to spot the key difference, which is the bat bug’s hair length is longer. Another key difference of bat bugs and bed bugs is their location.

Watch out for signs of blood-sucking bat bugs inside your home.

Bat bugs often mistaken for beg bugs develop in colonies of roosting bats, often living somewhere inside or near your home. When the bats disappear, these little blood-sucking insects stray away from their nests in search of a new host nearby, typically entering home living quarters and biting humans. This bite can transfer toxic saliva to a human host, causing small welts and severe itching.

As far as bites and behavior go, bat bugs are nearly identical to bed bugs. The flattened insects also look extremely similar. In most cases, you’ll need a trained professional and microscope to tell the difference.

According to a report from Colorado State University, preventing bat bug migrations or infestations requires the removal or exclusion of the bats along with insecticidal treatments. Similar to bed bugs, bat bugs tend to hide in furniture, behind baseboards, and in other cracks and crevices. Sealing every last nook and cranny will help keep these blood-sucking critters out.

While hungry bat bugs are willing to settle for any meal that’s close by, they cannot survive or reproduce without bat blood. Ultimately, they will die without their original bat host.

Bat bugs are part of the Cimicidae family, which are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. There are 5 types of Cimicidae known to exist in Colorado with bat bugs being one of the most common species found within homes, according to a report from Colorado State University Extension.

In most cases, if your home has a bat infestation, you have a bat bug problem. If you suspect you have bats, you’re likely to find bat droppings (guano) near your home, mainly near at entry and exit points. This includes attics, chimneys, walls, window seals, and front or back porches.

While you may find this news unsettling, you’ll be happy to know that bats are relatively harmless to humans. Bats are also extremely beneficial to the environment as they play a huge role in reducing insect-borne disease. In fact, one little brown can eat up to 1200 mosquitos in an hour. There are 18 species of bats throughout the state and all are protected by law.

While bats are usually seen after dusk and up until dawn, they can also be seen during the day. If you find one or more bats roosting near your home, the best thing to do is leave them alone. Contact a wildlife specialist for safe and legal removal or exclusion. Do not touch or attempt to relocate bats on your own. Killing bats with poisons or fumigants is illegal.

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