Swallow Bug (or Bat Bug or Bed Bug)

Bug Idnetification
January 23, 2010
these bugs started showing up last summer in our log home. We have a bat problem that we are trying to remedy. Reroofing and reunsulating. These bugs are found mostly up in the loft and master bedroom. But have also been seen all over the house. They are biting myself but not my husband (he’s a logger) and I believe they are occaionally biting the 2 cats and dog. The bite leaves quit a welt and is very itchy for days(similar to a flea bite). The bug seems to want to bite multipe times. It is not truley nocturmal but I am getting bitten alot at night. I am a Veterinary Technician and I have never seen this type of parasite. Can you please help ?
Mary MacKenzie
Algoma Mills Ontario

Swallow Bug

Hi Mary,
Your insect is in the Bed Bug Family, Cimicidae which is represented on BugGuide, but we don’t have the necessary skill to definitively provide you with a species.  We suspect, due to the description in your letter, that this is probably a Swallow Bug, Oeciacus vicarius, which may be viewed on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Bugs lay eggs that hatch in 35 days; nymphs mature in 10 weeks; adults are long lived and will mate and reproduce as long as food is available. Adults disperse to other nesting colonies by clinging onto the feathers of the host as it seeks for suitable nest sites. During the fall and winter when the birds are absent, the adults either seek alternative hosts (e.g. mice, bats, other birds) or remain in the empty nest- the bugs can survive for up to a year without food.
”  If your log cabin is in a remote area, we doubt that this is a Bed Bug, but Swallow Bugs and the related Bat Bugs, also pictured on BugGuide, might bite humans if their primary food source vanished.  The reroofing may have removed a bat or swallow population in the loft.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to ascertain from your excellent microscope photo if this is a Swallow Bug, a Bat Bug or a Bed Bug.

Swallow Bug

4 thoughts on “Swallow Bug (or Bat Bug or Bed Bug)”

  1. Hello. I found 5 or 6 bugs in a few screw holes of my wood bed frame. I assumed they were bed bugs but after researching a bit, I’ve found that the ones I killed were larger than bed bugs and their color was more of a gray color than red brown. I didn’t notice any hairs but I squished them pretty quick because I was freaked out. My daughter looked at pictures of bed bugs and feels too that what we have are slightly different. They girls did have bites and I found the ink black blood smears on the mattress encasement. I’ve never found shed skins or eggs. I found two more of the same bugs under the carpet when I tore it up and replaced it with tile. There’s been no sightings or bites since, it’s been 30 days. The one bug I found was 1/4 inch long and very wide. Not fat or puffy, but wide. Any opinions would be helpful. Thank you.

    • Swallow Bugs, Bat Bugs and Bed Bugs are all blood suckers in the same family, and both Bat Bugs and Bed Bugs will readily feed on humans.

  2. I found what looked like bed bugs on my matressi dryed all clothes and my moms bombing tommorow after research and questioning i discovered they’re no bed bugs what a relief

  3. You all have been very helpful in your reply and description thank you and now i’m going to see about some kind of pestiside or fumigation im getting a matal bed and am going to paint all my furniture.


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