Bugs That Look Like Ticks: 7 Tick Look-alikes Compared

Do you know that there are several bugs that look like ticks? When you don’t know what makes them different, it’s easy to confuse them.

Ticks can carry serious infections, including Lyme disease, which is why being able to spot them is so important. If you wondered what bugs look like ticks and want to know what you are dealing with, this article will help you.

Tick vs Bedbug

Bed bug

Ticks and bedbugs look alike, but their similarity is obvious when both are unfed. They are brown, flat, oval in shape, and don’t have wings.

If you look closely at both of them, you can notice that bedbugs have six legs and ticks have eight. It’s easy to tell a tick from a bedbug after feeding – ticks get much bigger after they feed on blood, and bedbugs don’t swell up as much.

When it comes to the usual habitat for these parasites, there is a definite difference. Ticks are usually found in natural environments – forests, grass, nests, etc. They can feed on both pets and humans if they come in contact with them while being outside.

When we talk about bedbugs, they can obviously be found in the bed but also in other places, such as a car, wallpaper, boxes, etc. Generally, bedbugs feed on humans, which is why they are often in locations where they can be close to them.

Tick vs Spider

Visually, the first thing that helps to tell the difference between a spider that looks like a tick and an actual tick is its body shape.

Ticks don’t have any segments in their bodies while spiders have two – the abdomen and the cephalothorax. Both of these insects have eight legs.

Spider on the leaf

Besides the visual aspect, it’s important to understand the difference in their bites. A lot of people don’t even notice tick bites, and if they do, this is usually due to the symptoms that may develop days later.

When it comes to spiders, the bites can be painful depending on the type of spider. The severity of the mark left by a spider can be different but there is often some swelling and redness. Tick bites are often small and difficult to see.

Tick vs Weevil

When we talk about weevil vs tick, the difference between these two is quite clear when you know what to look for. A weevil is a beetle that is active in spring and summer, so the rest of the time these insects are in hibernation.

Weevil on the leaf

Compared to a tick, weevils can fly, are dark in color, and some types can even have yellow legs. In terms of body shape, they are round, have a pronounced snout, and only six legs as opposed to eight in ticks.

What is also great about these bugs that look like ticks is that they don’t tend to bite humans, as their main sources of food are plants.

Mite vs Tick

In the case of the visual difference of mite vs tick, the situation is more complicated because you cannot see a mite without a microscope.

There are several kinds of mites living on this plant and they are typically less than a millimeter in size. Some of the common types of mites include dust mites, nest mites, itch mites, and varroa mites.

Spider Mite

Mites can be found in different habitats depending on their type. Some of them can be found on plants, in soil, and in other natural environments while there are also others that live as parasites on the skin of animals and humans. Generally, mites do not bite humans, but if this happens, a person can develop an itchy skin rash.

Tick vs Head Louse

Other insects that look like ticks but aren’t them include lice. Both of these parasites cause problems for humans because they survive from consuming the blood of a certain host.

Appearance-wise, lice are tiny, they don’t have wings and are also known to lay nits on the body of the host.

Head Louse

While ticks can bite anywhere on the body, it is common for lice to live in hair or on fur if we talk about animals. While there exist types of lice that can even affect the body, their usual location on humans is hair.

The most common symptom that is noticed by people affected by lice is head itching while bite marks are not left by this parasite. Also, the obvious sign of dealing with lice is noticing their nits on hair shafts.

Tick vs Flea

If we take tick vs flea and compare these two, the difference is quite easy to spot. A flea has six legs and is a wingless parasite that can live on a single host for its entire life.

They are tiny, dark brown or black, and their distinctive feature is the ability to jump. As opposed to ticks, fleas multiply extremely fast and can cause an infestation in a certain location or on the body of an animal.

Flea

While fleas usually live on animals and in places close to them, they can also bite humans. A flea bite can cause irritation and usually looks like a small red dot. The most common places where people can notice flea bites are ankles, lower legs, and feet.

Chiggers vs Ticks

Chiggers should also be included in this list as not a lot of people know about them. They are often referred to as mites but are extremely tiny in size so many of us don’t even notice them.

One of the things that makes them easy to separate from other tick-like bugs is their color – they can be orange, yellow, beige, and red. You can come in contact with chiggers in the woods, near rivers, and in the grass.

Chiggers

Their bite can cause irritation on the skin of people and leave an itchy rash. They are not carriers of dangerous infections, so their bites don’t pose a serious risk for health.

FAQ

Find answers to all the tick-related questions that bug you.

How many legs does a tick have?

At the adult and nymphal stages, ticks have eight legs. However, tick larvae have six legs and they acquire two more at later stages.

Do ticks fly?

No, ticks cannot fly or jump.

Do ticks and bedbugs look alike?

Yes, both of these parasites are similar in their appearance, which is what confuses a lot of people. When we look at tick vs bedbug, they are similar in their shapes, color, and the fact that they don’t have wings.

Also read: Best Tick Sprays for Yard

Being prepared never hurts

There are parasites and insects out there that don’t cause any problems for humans, but there are also others that may not only provide uncomfortable sensations but also get you infected. Ticks can be dangerous in some situations, so you should know what they look like and what to expect.

If you come in contact with a tick-looking bug, you can determine whether it is actually a tick or another insect using the information presented here.

Have you ever had to get rid of any of these insects? If so, share your experience in the comments.

References:

  • Lyme Disease (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services):
    https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/
  • Head lice (Mayo Clinic Staff):
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/head-lice/symptoms-causes/syc-20356180
Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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