How to get rid of bat bugs


Q. I found these bugs in my bathroom crawling on the floor. Can you tell me what they are? I hope they’re not bed bugs!

Kim from Salem

A. Well, the good news is, sort of … they are not bed bugs. But they are something very similar to a bed bug called a bat bug. Bat bugs are to bats what bed bugs are to people.

In appearance, they are almost identical to bed bugs. It takes a diagnostic scope and a trained eye to tell them apart. One of our entomologists confirmed they were indeed bat bugs.

Bat bugs will feed on several different species of bats, some of which roost in colonies.

Bats can be found in our homes living in attics, crawl spaces, voids in walls – anywhere where they can fit into and have shelter.

Any location with bats can also have bats bugs. If the bats die off, leave, or are excluded from the location, then any bat bugs there will have to find another host. Any warm-blooded animal will do, including people.

This situation is usually when we find bat bugs in our living spaces. Once they have invaded our living spaces, and have found a host, they will settle into their new environment just like bed bugs. They can be found in mattresses, on bed frames, behind baseboards and electrical outlet covers.

Like bed bugs, bat bugs are not known to carry any diseases. But, just the thought of the little vampires nearby makes almost everybody uncomfortable.

The key to controlling bat bugs is getting rid of the bats and preventing their re-entry into the house. By getting rid of, we do not mean killing – but getting them to move to a different location other than the house.

Once the bats are gone, the area where they were living needs to be treated with an appropriate insecticide. Any exits from this location that bat bugs could take into our living areas should also be treated.

Bats can carry disease and can bite, and bat bugs can find many ways into our living spaces. So you may want to contact a professional to treat this problem for you. If you choose to do this yourself, be sure to read and follow all the directions on the insecticide label.

For information on bat bugs and control go to http://go.osu.edu/batbug.

For details on getting the bats to move out of your house, go to http://go.osu.edu/batsout.

Today’s answer was provided by David Sprague, an OSU Extension master gardener volunteer in Mahoning County. The clinic is now open for spring, Call 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

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