Until recent years, when bed bugs have exploded in population and spread worldwide, bat bugs were the most common of the 5 closely related species of bloodsucking bugs that are found in Colorado. Bats and occasionally birds accessing attic and wall void areas for the purpose of raising their young may be infested with bat bugs. Nearly identical in appearance to bed bugs, bat bug adults are approximately 3/16 of inch in length (roughly the size of an apple seed), reddish brown in color, oval in shape and typically have a flattened body unless they have recently fed. Closer examination with the use of a microscope is needed to distinguish between a bat bug and a bed bug.
When bats are excluded from a roosting site or migrate for the season, it is not uncommon for bat bugs to migrate into the structure of the home seeking an alternate host. Although bat bugs are unable to continue to reproduce without their primary host, they often incidentally bite humans. Treatments similar to those utilized for bed bug infestations are often successful in eliminating bat bug infestations as long as the bats are removed or excluded from the home first. Depending on the activity level, some pest control professionals may recommend treating into voids where bats were previously roosting. Sealing gaps around the exterior of the structure to prevent bats from utilizing voids for roosting purposes is an extremely important aspect of preventing future bat bug infestations. Wildlife companies may offer services for excluding bats from homes and other structures both during and after roosting seasons. Exclusion during roosting season may have increased risks of the young bats perishing in the walls in the event that they are not yet old enough to exit the structure which may result in additional types of pest infestations including certain species of flies and beetles. Submission of samples to an entomologist or other trained professional may assist you in determining whether or not you are experiencing a bat bug infestation.