Beetles and ticks may sometimes look similar, but they belong to different groups of insects. While beetles are part of the Coleoptera order, ticks are arachnids, related to spiders and mites.
Understanding the differences between these creatures is important to protect yourself from the potential dangers ticks may carry.
Some beetles may resemble ticks due to their size, shape, and coloration.
However, one key difference helps with identification: beetles have wings and can fly, while ticks crawl and do not possess wings.
A closer look can help you distinguish between these insects, ensuring that you react appropriately.
It’s essential to be able to identify ticks since they are known for transmitting diseases like Lyme disease through their bites.
The blacklegged tick is a common disease-carrying species. To avoid tick bites, follow prevention measures like using insect repellent, wearing appropriate clothing, and checking your body after outdoor activities.
On the other hand, beetles play vital roles in ecosystems, such as decomposition and pollination, making them generally beneficial insects despite any resemblance to ticks.
Identifying Beetles That Look Like Ticks
- Size: Small, typically 1/16 to 1/8 inch long
- Color: Black or brown with irregular patterns
- Antennae: Club-shaped with 3 segments
- Features: Oval-shaped, tiny hairs covering the body
- Size: Small to medium, ranging from 1/8 to 3/8 inch long
- Color: Mostly dark brown or black
- Antennae: Elbowed with multiple segments
- Features: Snout-like mouth, oval body, and hard wings
- Size: Extremely small, around 1/64 inch
- Coloration: Reddish or dark brown
- Legs: 8 legs with the first pair longer than the others
- Features: Oval-shaped body, tiny
Here’s a summary table comparing the four look alikes
|Tick||Carpet Beetle||Weevil||Clover Mite|
|Size||2 to 27 mm||1/16-1/8 inch||1/8-3/8 inch||1/64 inch|
|Features||Oval, flat||Oval, hairy||Snout-like||Oval, tiny|
|Potential Harm||Yes (some)||No||No||No|
Remember to pay attention to these characteristics when identifying beetles that look like ticks, as most of these insects are harmless and do not pose the same risks as ticks.
Tick and Beetle Habitats
Plants and Grasses
Ticks and beetles can be found in various habitats, including plants and grasses. Ticks prefer tall grasses and shrubs where they can climb to find a host. Some common plants where ticks reside include:
- Tall grasses
- Leaf piles
Beetles, such as the six-spotted tiger beetle, inhabit a variety of environments, including:
Ticks and beetles may occasionally infest homes. For instance, ticks can be brought indoors by pets or humans, while beetles, such as wood-boring beetles, may invade homes in search of wood sources.
Common ways ticks and beetles can infest homes are:
- Pets carrying ticks indoors
- Firewood infested with beetles
- Cracks and gaps in the home’s exterior
Tick season and climate change: Ticks are generally more active in warmer months, increasing the risk of encountering them during tick season.
As climate change progresses and temperatures rise, tick habitats may expand, and tick season may extend.
|Habitat||Tall grasses, shrubs, leaf piles||Forests, meadows, gardens|
|Home Infestations||Brought in by pets or humans||Wood sources, firewood, cracks in the exterior|
|Season||Warmer months, impacted by climate change||Year-round, depending on species|
Preventing Tick Bites and Beetle Infestations
Personal Protection Strategies
- Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks easily.
- Use repellents containing DEET or picaridin.
- Example: Apply a 20-30% DEET repellent on exposed skin.
- Treat clothing with permethrin for added protection.
- Pros: Long-lasting protection.
- Cons: Toxic to aquatic life.
Here’s a comparison table of two popular tick repellents:
|Repellent||Active Ingredient||Protection Time||Application|
|DEET||20-30% DEET||4-8 hours||Skin and clothes|
|Picaridin||20% Picaridin||8-12 hours||Skin and clothes|
Pet Care and Prevention
- Regularly check pets for ticks.
- Example: Inspect their fur after outdoor activities.
- Use tick prevention products for your pets.
- Example: Flea and tick collars or topical treatments.
- Consult your veterinarian about suitable products.
General Home Maintenance
- Mow your lawn regularly to prevent tick habitats.
- Use tick traps if needed.
- Pros: Reduces tick population.
- Cons: Requires regular maintenance.
Keep your home free from beetles:
- Seal cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior.
- Store firewood and yard debris away from your home.
- Install insect screens on windows and doors.
Common Tick Species and Associated Diseases
American Dog Tick
Key features of American Dog Tick:
- Distinct reddish-brown color
- Larger than most other tick species
- Found mainly in the eastern U.S.
Western Blacklegged Tick
Key characteristics of Western Blacklegged Tick:
- Dark brown or black color
- Smaller than the American Dog Tick
- Found in wooded and grassy habitats
|American Dog Tick||Western Blacklegged Tick|
|Primary diseases transmitted||Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia||Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis|
|Color||Reddish-brown||Dark brown or black|
|Habitat||Eastern U.S.||Western U.S.|
The diseases mentioned above, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, are among many tick-borne illnesses that can also include babesiosis, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), and heartland virus.
Erythema migrans, a circular rash, is often an early sign of tick-borne infections like Lyme disease. Timely detection and treatment are crucial to avoid complications from these diseases.
Recognizing and Treating Tick Bites
Symptoms of Tick-Borne Diseases
Tick bites can lead to various diseases, with common symptoms including:
- Fever/chills: All tickborne diseases can cause fever.
- Aches and pains: Tickborne diseases can cause headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. People with Lyme disease may also have joint pain. 1
If you develop these symptoms within a few weeks of a tick bite, see your healthcare provider.
Proper Tick Removal Techniques
When removing a tick, follow these steps:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick.
- After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. 2
Here’s a comparison table to help distinguish between ticks and beetles:
|Body Shape||Oval and flat||Oval or elongated|
|Legs||8 legs||6 legs|
|Smooth or hard shell||Smooth body||Hard exoskeleton|
Remember to seek medical attention if you experience tick bite symptoms or need assistance with tick removal.
Beetles and ticks, although sometimes visually similar, are distinct creatures. Beetles belong to the Coleoptera order, while ticks are arachnids.
Some beetles, due to their size and coloration, can be mistaken for ticks.
However, beetles have wings and can fly, unlike ticks. It’s crucial to differentiate between them, especially since ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease.
Beetles, on the other hand, serve beneficial roles in ecosystems. Key beetle species that resemble ticks include carpet beetles, weevils, and clover mites.
Proper identification ensures appropriate reactions and safeguards against potential health risks.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Bugs in the Cat Litter
I use World’s Best Cat Litter. It’s an organic product made from corn. I have bought bags before that contained these small, elongated, lighter brown, hard, beetle type bugs.
They don’t seem to be able to fly. I think they might develop into some sort of tiny moth, because I have seen the little (tiny!) moths in the litter enclosure, but nowhere else. I have tried freezing the bag before I use it in the litter box, but sometimes this does not work.
What are these bugs and how do I get rid of them? Are they harmful to my cat? Could they get into the rest of the house? Sorry I don’t have a picture.
Both meal moths and pantry beetles will infest stored corn. Neither will harm your cats, but they may invade stored grain products in your pantry.
Letter 2 – Dermestid Beetle Larva in Pasta
always in my carbs!!!
Location: Buffalo, NY
August 4, 2010 7:59 pm
These disgusting creepy little bugs somehow ALWAYS get into any kind of carb I have in my cupboard-flour, pasta, sugar, etc, even if it’s stored in a container other than the one it came in, although glad containers seem to be working to keep them out.
I often find like skins or something in there too like they shed or something? In the pic those are medium-sized shells & it was desperately trying to crawl towards them. Thanx!
We are confident that your Beetle Larva is in the family Dermestidae, known as the Carpet Beetles. The family contains the common Larder Beetle as well. As a family, bugGuide indicates the larvae feed on:
“dried organic material of high protein content (skin/flesh of dead animals, dandruff, feathers, hair, mantid egg cases, dried foods, wool/silk, etc.); a few spp. prey on wasp & bee larvae or spider eggs; most smaller species feed on pollen/nectar” and they are frequently found in dried pet food.
Their fondness for grains at your place may indicate a species that has specific dietary preferences that differs from the family.
We wonder if perhaps you have Novelsis aequalis, the closest visual match we can find on bugGuide, but alas, there is no information on the larval food preferences. You may want to discard all stored foods and begin with a cleaned pantry.
Letter 3 – Chocolate Eating Bugs!
I stumbled on your website during a search. I have a question concerning Chocolate. I have a co-worker that brings me Hershey Kisses every morning.
I don’t eat them right away, so, when I finally decided to eat a few, to my surprise, there were little brown gnat type bugs that had burrowed through the kiss!!!!!!!!!!!
One co-worker had the entire Hershey Kiss gone including the almond! It did leave the shell however! HELP. We just want to know what they are! Thanks!
Certain types of Pantry Beetles will eat chocolate, burrowing through the candy leaving the shell intact.
Letter 4 – Bookworm: Real or Myth???
Location: Anywhere there are books & moisture?
July 17, 2013 2:55 pm
I’ve looked up bookworm/book worm on this site, but found nothing. So, I just googled it, & found a few things.
These two links show an actual larvae worm, but it may or may not be an actual ”bookworm”:
this link shows bookworm damage, as well as mentions it actaually being beetle larvae, but dosn’t say what beetle.
Also, looking up silverfish on WTB, I found that they tend to eat the glue in book bindings.
Is there an actual bookworm of a certian beetle larvae? Or is the ”bookworm” actually the silverfish by the damage it creates in books?
What a nice theoretical question you have posed for us. Since you cited the sources for the photos you attached, and since one is clearly watermarked as an iStock Photo and since we are linking back to the site if anyone wants to download the image, we don’t think we will be slapped with any copyright infringement suits, so we believe we are safe to include the image.
We are not entirely convinced the creature in the photo is an actual “Bookworm” but we do believe it is some moth larva. We also believe it might have been a staged photo since the selective focus is so artfully done. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has a conservation page that states:
“There are several types of insects that damage collection materials including books. The most common pests are roaches, silverfish, and various types of beetles. These insects eat the protein and starch components in books and other materials, and the feces of these and other types of insects can disfigure collection materials.”
We suspect that when more natural materials, including starch bindings, were used in bookmaking, printed materials were more prone to insect damage than they are now.
The beetles that are mentioned are most likely Carpet Beetles in the family Dermestidae (see BugGuide) which will damage many items in addition to books that are in museum collections. We have numerous photos of the larvae of Carpet Beetles on our site, but we have never received an image of one in a book.
Letter 5 – Deathwatch Beetle with feathered antennae
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
May 4, 2016 7:31 pm
We began seeing these bugs two evenings ago. They seem to come out at abut 5 in the evening, on our kitchen ceiling. Fly/long hop around. Theyseem to be drawn my the light.
They are not as previlent when it gets dark outside.
They are very small about 1/8th inch or smaller. and have the feathered antenna(some of them).
Thanks for your help.
We did open your image yesterday and we did a bit of unsuccessful research, and we decided to postpone posting until we did more research. We still do not have an identity, so we are posting your request and tagging it unidentified.
Because of its small size and the large numbers of individuals that are appearing in your kitchen, we are presuming this beetle is either a pantry pest or a wood boring species, and we hope that by posting the image, one of our readers will write in with an ID.
Perhaps our new intern Bennett will try to tackle this challenge. We are speculating that the individuals with the feathered antennae are males.
“Large, dry portions of dead wood of broad-leaved trees (beech, maple, oak, sycamore…)” and “common pest of woodwork in buildings most frequently encountered wood-feeding anobiid in ne. NA.”
Letter 6 – Deathwatch Beetle with Pectinate Antennae
What the heck IS that ?!?!
Location: ontario, canada
June 25, 2011 8:03 pm
Hi there !
I have a stumper for you (or maybe not?).
Found this little guy on the inside of my kitchen window. Never saw a bug like him. I didn’t size him, but i have a feeling the weird things on his head will give him away.
Thanks so much for checking out my pic !
We wish your photo had more detail. We don’t believe this is a False Click Beetle, and we haven’t a clue what else it might be. Here is a photo of a False Click Beetle from the What’s Bugging You? website that is somewhat similar. We have requested assistance from Eric Eaton.
Eric Eaton identifies the Deathwatch Beetle
No, this is a great image of a deathwatch beetle, specifically Ptilinus ruficornis:
Only males have the weird antennae.
Not a structural pest as far as I am aware.
Thank you so much ! I appreciate it. As you know, he was very tiny (just a few mm), so it was hard to take a clear enough macro pic.
Thanks again for identifying him !
Letter 7 – Bizarre Grub: Fungus Infestation, and edible as well!!!
Horrible large mealworm with two inch horns!
December 2, 2009
This one has me stumped! The picture is fairly detailed – hopefully you’ll know what it is. I spent a half hour looking everywhere and came up clueless. It came in a large box of tropical mixed greens from Florida.
Mike in CT
Florida, we think.
WE are seeking assistance on this creature. It sure doesn’t look native.
We quickly got two comments indicating that this is a Cordyceps fungus infection.
Letter 8 – Blue Rosalia
what d’ya think of this beauty?!
hello you buggers!
We’ve been out taking photos of insects here in the the Charente region of western France and came across this beautiful specimen of what we think is some kind of blue longhorn beetle, but wanna know fo’ sure! what do ya think it is?!
It was on the trunk of an ash tree….. can ya help us out? please? (ps this is the first time we’ve found your site and it’s brilliant!)
Max and Lippy
Hi Max and Lippy,
Thanks for the compliment. Your natty beetle is in fact a Longhorn Cerambycid, but we don’t know the European species. A quick google search revealed nothing. Thanks for sending the photo which may eventually get identified.
Ed. Note: A second email from Max and Lippy questioned the Blue Rosalia. We googled that and found this lovely Polish stamp from 1961. Looks like a positive ID for Rosalis alpina.
Letter 9 – Borer Beetle: genus Tragidion
Can you tell me what this one is?
I enjoy taking nature pictures and while I was in my winter oat field this weekend I saw this very golden beetle fly into the oats.
This is a Cerambycide Borer Beetle we did not recognize. We searched BugGuide and found a match with the genus Tragidion, possibly Tragidion armatum brevipenne. Other than an image match, we can’t find much information on the species. The coloration is perfect for Halloween.
Letter 10 – Borer: Clytus species
What’s this Bug ?
Landed on my hat in Eastern Ontario , Canada . Thanks in advance ,
This is one of the Cerambycid Borers in the genus Clytus. There are two species, Clytus marginicollis and Clytus ruricola, and they look very similar. If this was a Who Wants to be a Millionaire question, we would gamble on Clytus ruricola.
Letter 11 – Borer Grub
What type of grub / larve is this?
May 17, 2010
A few nites ago I was splitting some logs I picked up a few years back from a clearing for the powerlines. I split this log and it basicallyshattered into a bunch of pieces. One of those peices contained a hollowed out tubular section. This is what initially caught my eye. I was curious and bent over to investigate.
It was at that point I looked down to my amazement that there was a grub/larve hidden in this wet rotted log. The grub was over 3 inches long and had a pair of pincers similar to a beak on a squid.
It burrowed a tube like hole throughout the length of the log. And probably was quite content until I came a long.
David in Mashpee, Massachusetts
Cape Cod Massachusetts
Your photo is not ideal for an exact identification, but we believe this is the Grub of one of the Longhorned Borers in the family Cerambycidae, and most likely a member of the subfamily Prioninae. There is a nice photo for comparison purposes on BugGuide.
Letter 12 – Brazilian Leaf Miner Beetle
Help to ID
Please, help me to ID this bug.
We wrote to Eric Eaton to see if he could identify your beetle. Here is his reply: “Ok, it IS a beetle, but, believe it or not, a Chrysomelidae leaf beele! These particular types are leaf miners in the subfamily Hispinae. There must be several genera and hundreds of species in the tropics. Eric”
Letter 13 – Buprestid Beetle
Thanks so much for identifying my beetles. How about 1 more. See attached.
Vicki in CA
We wish you provided a few more details. We wonder how large this beauty is. This is some species of Buprestid, the Metallic Wood Boring Beetles. We are also wondering if it was also found in Burbank. We hope Eric Eaton can provide us with information. Eric quickly wrote back:
“It is something in the genus Buprestis or Cypriacis (which was once lumped in Buprestis). My friend Rick Westcott, retired from the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, could tell you more. Individual specimens can be extremely variable in color, so that complicates matters. Eric”
More info on the Buprestid Beetle. He/She was about 1″ long, and was found, as in picture, dead, on kitchen floor in Acton, CA which is rural area north of Burbank. Thanks for your help.
The buprestid from Acton, California is Buprestis viridisuturalis Nicolay & Weiss. It is found in dead Fremont Cottonwoods. Thanks,
Natural Resource Specialist/ Park Ranger
Englebright & Martis Creek Lakes
Letter 14 – Buprestid Grub
i am in the middle of my bathroom reno and i ran into this creature……i hate bugs and ended up tearing all the drywall down to make sure there was no more hiding. i only found the one , looked as if it was trying to chew into the floor? it is tapered and has little jaws on the front. pics arent that great cause it is dark.
This is a beetle grub from the Family Buprestidae. They are Wood Boring Beetles and sometimes the grubs can live in milled lumber for many many years, emerging as adults long after something has been built. Eric Eaton adds:
“That flattened first thoracic segment is your clue. Cerambycids are known as roundheaded borers because in the larvae the first segment is not nearly as flattened. Your comment about them living in milled lumber applies to both beetle families”
Letter 15 – Burdock Beetle
This summer’s curiosity
I assume, after viewing your sight, that this is a Colorado Potato Beetle, but seek confirmation. This guy found his way to my arm and stopped to pose for photographs. I am a beetle lover and slowly becoming an entomological hobbyist (photographs in the wild, I don’t collect.) Fantastic site!
You are correct. This is a Colorado Potato Beetle, Leptinotarsa decimlineata. It was originally native to mountain meadows in the Rocky Mountains, but widespread cultivation of potatoes has greatly increased its range as well as its status as a bonafide agricultural pest.
Correction from Eric Eaton: (10/18/2005)
Hey, the Colorado potato beetle is actually a related species, Leptinotarsa juncta (burdock beetle if I recall).
Letter 16 – Cochchafer
Please Help in IDing the Bug!
Would you be able to identify this bug for us? The bug is on the blinds inside our friends house in England. Thanks soooooo much.
This is one of several species of European Scarabs known as Cockchafers.
Letter 17 – Death Feigning Beetle
I don’t think this went through the last time I sent it, if it did, I apologize. Do you have any idea what this is? I found it while wandering around Valley of Fire State Park, near Las Vegas.
This is a Death Feigning Beetle, Cryptoglossa verrucosa, though it is sometimes called an Ironclad Beetle.
Letter 18 – Death Feigning Beetle
Help with identification
My daughter Hanling took this photo of a beetle we saw while camping along the Colorado River south of Hoover dam this past April. We are hoping you would be able to help identify it.
We thought this might be one of the Ironclad Beetles in the Darkling Family, but it didn’t quite look correct. We searched the Darkling Beetles on BugGuide and came up with a match. This is a Death Feigning Beetle, Cryptoglossa verrucosa, though it is sometimes called an Ironclad Beetle. The mottled coloration seems a bit odd.
Hi there, Just wanted to let you know that you are indeed correct on the Cryptoglossa verrucosa picture posted on 5-15-06. It is a death feigning beetle or blue death feigning beetle but you mention that the mottled coloration is odd.
I was just going to add that this occurs when the beetle gets wet in anyway. If they get a drop or dew or something of the sort, that area will turn flat black in a blotch.
Or, if it gets totally wet via rain or a otherwise, the entire beetle will change in color from that light blue/gray to pure black, and stay this way for several hours to a few days. Just a FYI!
Letter 19 – Dermestid Beetle Larva
i need your help to identify this bug i found in our kitchen. We have recently become infested with lots of them and need your help so that we can take care of the problem.
They are found near our cats food in the kitchen and under the cooker as there are lots of cracks. i have found them where cats hair & dust is the most gathered, can you help?
You have a type of Dermestid Beetle Larva that include many Pantry or Larder Beetles and Carpet Beetles. The larvae can be infesting the cat food as well as eating the cat hair that accumulates in dark corners.
Letter 20 – Dermestid Beetle Larva
What is this?
Can you please help me identify this bug. They are found on the walls in my home. They crawl very fast and are very tiny. I took a picture next to a dime.
Thanks for any help
You have a Dermestid Beetle larva which include household pests like carpet beetles and larder beetles.
Letter 21 – Dynastes tityus
Thanks for a great site!
After unsuccessfully searching Google images and several websites to identify this beefy dude (painful over a modem…), you came to my rescue. I believe this may be either a Unicorn or a Hercules beetle?
Found him legs up on my roof in rural northwest SC. Love your website, and since I’m from CA and am not familiar with the local fauna, will now refer back to it frequently to find out whether the buggies get to listen to me jabber at them or feel the wrath of my vengeful heel (The latter may be preferred over the former, since most seem to flee after the first “Hello, Mr. Insert-generic-bug-name-here.”
Word gets around these rural small towns rather quickly…). Your tips on what these insects eat and their preferred habitats make it easier for me to relocate them to the proper environs if necessary.
We have heard this guy called both the Hercules Beetle and the Unicorn Beetle, but to be safe, we could go scientific and call it Dynastes tityus. We sympathize with your modem searching, but imagine trying to upload What’s That Bug? on dial-up. That is our excuse for answering so slowly when we have 100’s of letters.
Letter 22 – European Chafer
Hi There, Since a few days we are invaded by thousand of bugs like this in the garden. We tried to identify them, but no chance. They show up only in the evening when the temperature cools down.
Are they pests? Do they eat potatoes or tomatoes plants? Or cherry, plum, apple or peach trees? How we get rid of them is impossible to stay in evening outside in the garden.
We weren’t familiar with your species of Scarab, one of the Chafers, so we wrote to Eric Eaton. He thinks you might have a situation. Here is his response:
“This is some other kind of scarab. Try searching European Chafer and see if that might be a match. If so, the submitter might want to contact their state Agricultural Dept. as the insect is a relatively recent introduction and we need to know how it is spreading.” So Adrian, contact the experts.
Ed. Note: This letter just arrived.
(08/11/2005) Reaction to “European Chafer (06/27/2005) Strange Bug”
Hi, The chafer pictured at the post “European Chafer (06/27/2005) Strange Bug” looks to me like a common cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha), or Meikever (may chafer) as they are called in Dutch.
These fellows are quite noisy in flight, and come out of the ground after being a larva for 3 years. For more info, see http://www.kendall-bioresearch.co.uk/chafer.htm
Letter 23 – Brazilian Blister Beetle
orange bug with blacks splotches and giant clampers
September 20, 2009
We walked outside and saw this on the ground. Please advise!
Sao jose dos campos, Brazil
We vowed this would be our last posting for the moment since we need to go to the market. We anticipate that an exact identification may take us some time, so we are just posting your unidentified beetle in the hopes a reader can provide the answer before we return to attempt an identification.
Though it resembles a Stag Beetle, the antennae are wrong. We also don’t believe this is a Longhorned Borer, since again the antennae seem wrong. We are hard pressed at the moment to even place this interesting specimen into a family classification. Our first guess is perhaps some species of Ground Beetle in the family Carabidae.
Eric Eaton provides identification
September 21, 2009
Yes, it is, believe it or not, a blister beetle, family Meloidae. More specifically, it is Cissites auriculata. Lots of images pop up in a Google search for that genus.
Thanks for the response Eric. A web search immediately brought up a posting on BugGuide from Texas with an comment that the common name is the Large Eared Blister Beetle. There is also a page on the Texas Beetle Information website.