Bugs That Look Like Ticks

Read this article if you want to learn how to differ bugs and ticks

Written by Meredith Hayes. Updated on identify bugs that look like ticks but aren’t

Bugs That Look Like Ticks

Insects that remind ticks bring a lot of harm to people. True tick is a carrier of dangerous diseases.

After the bite, it is advisable to go through a medical examination. Besides, the insect itself is to be submitted to the laboratory for analysis.

Insects that resemble ticks can be absolutely harmless, so it’s better to know who you have to deal with.

Bed bugs, Cabbage bugs, Head louse bugs, Weevil bugs, Marmorated stink bugs, Ashplant bugs, Swallow bugs, Clover mites, Booklice bugs, Skin beetle, Deer bloodsucker, Aphids, Spider Beetle, Spider Mites, Mealybugs, Cockroach Nymphs are the bugs that look like ticks.

If you want to learn how to identify bugs that look like ticks but aren’t, keep reading this article.

Related: How to Define The Wood Tick Nest? Are They Dangerous?

Bugs That Look Like Ticks. Remember Them To Never Mistake!

Ticks can be a true seasonal disaster with their greed for fresh blood! However, people often tend to mistaken these parasites to several other bugs that are far less harmful but they remind ticks by their appearance.

To avoid unnecessary panic, we advise you to look through the following guide that describes the most frequently mistaken insects who are not ticks.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks

Bed bug

This insect is indeed pretty similar to ticks.

What makes them different is the number of legs (bed bugs have six whereas adult ticks have eight). In addition, bed bugs dwell indoor mostly unlike the bloodsuckers who prefer shady and grassy outdoor hideouts.

Some say that bed bug reminds cockroach being oval whereas tick has more round shape.

Besides, ticks resemble spiders greatly since they belong to the same arachnids family.

Bed bug

Harlequin cabbage bug

Harlequin cabbage bug

This creature is also an insect which means it has six legs and long antennae in addition that are hard to miss. Ticks, on the contrary, lack both these signs.

But the most obvious difference is that the cabbage bug has a distinctive color, bright orange/yellow with black ornament. Besides, it is larger than the tick.

Harlequin cabbage bug | Nymph

Nymph of the harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica (Hahn). Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida.

Harlequin cabbage bug | Adult Bug

Adult harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica (Hahn). Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida.

Brown marmorated stink bug

Brown marmorated stink bug

Again, the major difference is the number of legs. If you notice this insect, count its legs. Are there six of them? Great! Then it’s not a tick!

Besides, these insects are larger being 1.7 cm long, and nearly the same wide. In addition, they have a well-recognizable shield-like shape that is hard to mistaken to anything else. 

One more distinction is their elongated snout that has long antennae.

brown marmorated stink bug
Picture from Rutgers – New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station

Head louse bug

Head Louse Bug

Some people take this insect for a tick but they are too different. 

Head louse is much longer whereas ticks are closer to the round shape.

Besides, these insects also have six legs, and their body color is very light, from creamy-yellow to very light brown and it is almost transparent.

Ticks, on the contrary, look like nearly round brown spider-like pests. 

Adult head louse

adult louse
Nuttall 1917 f11
By Nuttall, George H. F. (1862-1937) – Parasitology 9:293-324

Common weevil bug

Common weevil bug

This one is indeed hard to mistaken to the tick! The common weevil has a much more elongated shape, with the long snout that has two antennae on its end. Six legs show that it is an insect, besides, certain species have wings and can fly which ticks can’t do.

Weevil can be of different colors, from dusty grey to brown but it looks like a bug.

Joaquim Alves Gaspar (britannica.com)

Pine weevil


Pine weevil
Guido Gerding (britannica.com)

Brentid weevil

Brentid weevil
Sandilya Theuerkauf (britannica.com)

Grain weevil

Grain weevil
Sarefo (britannica.com)

Leaf-Rolling Weevil

leaf rolling weevil like tick

Leaf-rolling weevils are no harmful for people, but this small (3-6 mm) bug can cause serious damage to trees.

It lays eggs on one side of the tree leaves, rolling them up inside of them. When larvae hatch, they start feeding on those rolled leaves respectfully. 

These bugs mostly dwell on any trees, but some species prefer certain trees, for instance, poplars, oaks, or hazels.

Ashplant bug

Ashplant bug

These insects are ⅜ inch long, pale yellow, or varying from brown to black. The most significant feature is the yellow-green triangular on their back right between the wings (yes, by the way, they can fly!).

All these traits make these bugs stand out when compared to ticks.

Booklice bug

Booklice bug

Booklice are sometimes mistaken for young ticks but both have quite significant distinctions.

Booklice have six legs, most of them are winged with the wings often spotted with dark dots. Their size vary from 0.6 to 7 mm.

The most distinctive trait is that they have very light color, almost white, unlike brown to black ticks. 

Book louce

book louse
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Swallow bug

Swallow bug

This one probably looks like tick the most. Swallow bugs are brown, almost round-shaped, small (nearly like adult ticks), and they are very flat.

How to define them from ticks and don’t freak out? Swallow bugs have much shorter legs and there are only six of them whereas ticks are very long-legged compared to their tiny size.



Who doesn’t know aphids? If you are a gardener or you grow crops, you definitely have dealt with these tiny yet annoying insects! Aphids belong to the sap-sucking bugs which means they can cause no harm to humans. However, these creatures become a true hazard when it comes to plants.

There are over 500 species of aphids, and all of them can cause various problems to plants and crops, such as lack of vigor, distorted growth, and transmission of viruses. Some aphids can even be the cause of mold! These insects remain active mostly through spring to the late summer on outdoor plants, but on the indoor greens, they can live all year round.

Spider Beetle

spider beetle look like tick

These bugs have round deep-red bodies and six legs with two more extensions on their heads.

That makes most people mistake these insects with eight-legged spiders. Nevertheless, spider beetles are completely harmless for humans. The problems begin when they get to your kitchen.

Spider beetles are known for causing damage to foods which makes them a true hazard for restaurants, large kitchens, and of course, to our cupboards.

The second they get to the food, they begin to reproduce fast, invading and infesting the area quickly. Since they are not picky, almost any goodies can attract them, from cereals to bread and nuts.

People even report these bugs feeding on silk and wool!

Spider Mites

spider mite and tick

Spider mites that live in hot and dry areas are common in North America being close relatives to spiders.

They are usually reddish-brown or pale, with oval-shaped small bodies of 1/50 inches long. They tend to live in colonies and dwell on the underside of leaves. Since these creatures feed on plant juice, they are not harmful to humans.

However, they do cause trouble to plants. They pierce the leaves tissues making them turn yellow and fall or dry up.

Spider mites especially like strawberries, melons, eggplant, tomatoes, and most houseplants which makes them hazardous to our gardens and greenhouses.


mealy bug look like tick

Mealybugs are not dangerous to people but they create a real hazard to plants instead.

Gardens, greenhouses, and indoor plants can become their victims easily. These wingless bugs mostly live in warm climate areas and resemble white cottony masses. Their major source of food is plant sap which they extract from plant tissues when feeding on leaves, stems, or fruits.

And if the infestation is massive, it may result in plant damage and weakening with leaves turning yellow and falling off.

To control and destroy them, it’s important to not overwater or over fertilize your plants since mealybugs are highly attracted to those that contain high levels of nitrogen. Also, using repellents will help to cast off these pests effectively.

Cockroach Nymphs

Cockroach Nymphs mistakes tick

Cockroach nymphs are easy to define since they look like adults only being smaller in size. Right after hatching, they are white in color but soon they turn darker and finally become dark-brown just like the adult insects.

The same as adults, nymphs of any cockroach species can be found in the areas where there is food, such as kitchens, and in any domestic or commercial premises connected with edible goodies.

The nymphs are active at night and, just like adult pests, tend to transmit various diseases, such as dysentery, typhoid, gastroenteritis, etc. 

And of course, the major distinction is that none of those tick-reminding insects feed on humans’ blood.

A Short Description of the Tick

bug looks like tick

When viewed through a magnifying glass, the tick externally resembles a crustacean. After carefully examining the limbs, you can see the resemblance to the spider. Experts say this creature belongs to a subclass of arthropods, a class of arachnids.

Have you ever seen ticks?
Yes, once
Many times
No, I’m Lucky
Only in the photos, but I had enough

Tick’s body length is from 0.2 mm to 5 mm The trunk is divided into two parts and has a convex shape. Adult insects have 4 pairs of paws you can easily identify the tick nest. They can be gray, brown, brown, red. But there are many insects and beetles that look like ticks.

Deer bloodsucker

identify bugs that look like ticks but aren’t

This bug looks like tick, flea, fly. It has a relatively powerful body, firm legs with claws. A distinctive feature is the presence of transparent wings and three pairs of limbs. The insect prefers sunny terrain with deciduous trees, shrubs, tall grass.

They attack wild animals, deer, elk, and cattle. They feed on blood and carry dangerous diseases like fever and Lyme disease.

A bloodsucker attacks a person if it is unable to find the animal for a long time. It does not live on the body, but for some time it absorbs into the skin and sucks the blood. This lifestyle often confuses people with the tick.

Related: What Eats Ticks | Detailed Guideline

Bed bug

beetles that look like ticks

It is not easy to detect this insect as it leads a hidden lifestyle. The parasite is active mainly at night. It feeds exclusively on human blood. The bed bugs build nests in a room where a person sleeps. Their favorite places are under the mattress, carpets, sofas, interior items, books, furniture joints.

Are you afraid of ticks?
Yes, a lot
Maybe a little
Why be afraid?
I'm much worse than ticks

You can distinguish bed bugs from ticks by appearance.

  •       The body of a bedbug in a hungry state is flattened. And it becomes convex after a hearty meal.
  •       It is a 6 legs bug.
  •       Bed bugs and ticks feed on blood, but the former prefer humans, the latter animals.
  •       Bed bugs are on the body only at the time of feeding, most of their lives are spent in nests, actively propagating.
  •       It is difficult to identify the presence of a living parasite in bed, whereas a dead body is easily detected after a night meal.

A well-fed bedbug is a vulnerable creature that dies at the slightest pressure on the body and you also can kill it and prevent its appearance with special treatment for example bleach.


6 legs bug
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Ticks have a lot in common with spiders because they belong to the same class. However, it is very easy to distinguish tick vs spider.

The spiders have a convex body shape, four pairs of limbs, a solid eco-skeleton that is practically unstretched.

They eat insects, small animals. They do not like sunlight.

The person is not interesting for them, they may appear on the body by mistake.

It is possible to distinguish a tick from a spider by a characteristic web.

Arthropods form their networks for the victim. The web can easily trap butterflies, flies, larvae, mosquitoes, other small insects.

Very seldom spiders attack themselves.

tick vs spider

Tick identification is possible if you know the external characteristics, features of its activity, food.

The parasite is active in the warm season, lives in the wild, forest, city park, in the yard on the green vegetation. You will hardly spot a tick on the body immediately.

The main symptoms of a bite are itching, swelling, redness.

In most cases, beetles that look like ticks are not dangerous.

Skin Beetle

carpet beetle

Leather jackets, wool, fur coats and hats, carpet, parquet and laminate, wooden furniture, cardboard boxes, books, paintings, feather pillows and blankets, electrical wires, wax, paraffin, wall wallpaper, and wallpaper glue, concrete screeds – all this can be eaten by a skin beetle (Dermestidae).

If a skin beetle bites you, do not touch the bite, but wash it with soap and rub it with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

A skin beetle is a small pest, its body length does not exceed 12 mm. The color is usually brown or red, the head is black, the oval-shaped body is covered with small villi. Some individuals have a pattern on the elytra.

Despite their small size, skin beetle are harmful to human health. Due to their predominantly organic diet, they can carry different diseases.

Due to the peculiarities of nutrition, skin beetle carries helminth eggs on their body.

A skin beetle can bite a person, although he is not a blood-sucking insect.

If bitten, itching or an allergic reaction may occur. Only larvae can bite at night, for example, if they are in the nightclothes in which you sleep. They do this not intentionally but rather by mistake since they do not feed on human living skin and blood.

tick vs beetle

Clover mites

clover mite

Clover mite is rather difficult to notice on a plant, although it is not so small: it measures about 0.8 – 1 mm in length. Its body is reddish, broadly oval, with long legs.

Clover mite is very mobile and moves quickly throughout the plant. She lays large orange eggs on the upper side of the leaf.

The clover mite is smaller – up to 0.6 mm, with an oval brown or green body. It lays dark red eggs on leaves.

A sign of the appearance of these pests is white or yellowish spots-streaks appearing on the surface of the leaf.

The leaves become dead, cracked, deformed, and twisted.

Related: What Does A Tick Look Like! Be Prepared

How to Determine What Bit You

Tick identification
Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

It is difficult to avoid insect bites. In summer, this problem is especially relevant.

Sometimes it’s hard to determine what bit you. The wound can hurt, itch, swell. But do not panic.

And you may not recognize black bugs that look like ticks.

You should know some characteristic features of different bites.

  •       Tick’s bite. The body reacts to a tick attack with a red spot at the place of the bite. The insect can be on the victim for a long time and increase in size, feeding on its blood. The worst thing is that ticks infect people with encephalitis, borreliosis and many other diseases. If after removing the insect the round spot on the skin has not disappeared, but only increased in size, immediately consult a doctor.
  •       Flea bites can be confused with allergies or ticks because similar red swelling appears on the skin. But, unlike ticks, these insects bite quite painfully, bites from them itch much stronger. Fleas usually attack legs and only a sleeping person can be bitten in other places. One insect can bite a person several times, so often the distance between the spots is 1–2 cm. Fleas carry many dangerous diseases for humans.
black bugs that look like ticks
  •       Ant’s bite. Most ants are not dangerous to humans. But, for example, fire ant can cause trouble. Pustules are formed on the places of his bites which then turn into scars. Ant poison contains toxins, and a person may experience severe allergies or anaphylactic shock. The bite of a red forest ant looks like a mosquito bite. A pink spot appears on the skin, which will then itch. At the time of a bite, a person will feel sharp burning, as if boiling water had hit the skin.
  •       Bedbug’s bite. At first glance, the bites of bedbugs are similar to traces from an attack of fleas, mosquitoes or allergies. Swelling, redness, and severe itching are felt on the skin. But you can distinguish the attack of bedbugs by the characteristic chains-paths on the skin. Bites are close to each other. And the bugs bite harder than mosquitoes. Multiple paths on the body can be found in the morning as bugs go hunting at night.

To avoid unpleasant bites, take simple preventive measures. Going outdoors, pick up the appropriate clothing and shoes. The body should be securely hidden under a cloth and treated with protective compounds. Do not sleep in the thick grass. Periodically examine yourself, your loved ones and animals in order to detect a tick in time. After returning from a trip to nature, also conduct an inspection, including all things.

bugs that look like ticks

Quick Review

Frequently asked questions

Can bed bugs look like ticks?

Bed bugs look a lot like ticks. The bite of the bed bug differs from the bite of the tick. Bedbug bites come in traces and they did not left a bug body in the bite. 

Bugs that look like ticks but fly

It can be a deer bloodsucker. It looks like tick in some way but it can fly.

deer bloodsucker

Bug that looks like a tick but has pinchers

Pseudoscorpions look alike but have pincers. They are rarely seen and aren’t dangerous for human.

bugs that look like ticks

Read next : Tick Nest and What do Tick Eggs Look Like?

Written by
Meredith will assist you with your health and family problems. She is a professional therapist who has huge experience in the field of family health care.
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