Tick vs Bed Bug: Spotting the Difference Between Two Hotel Pests


Ticks and bed bugs are both pests that can have a presence in hotels. However, there are a lot of key differences between the two, from their habitat to the way they feed and survive.


As a hotel manager, it is important to know these differences as it can make the difference between a lawsuit from a guest and not. In this article, we go over the differences between ticks and bed bugs - and how each can create different issues for hotel guests.


The Differences Between a Tick vs Bed Bug

Ticks are usually found in the woodland or fields and prefer to feed and latch onto animals rather than humans. The most common types of ticks are small in size, and smaller than the typical fully grown bed bug, making them more difficult to spot.


The key difference between ticks and bed bugs is that although both are major pests, bed bugs do not carry diseases. Different types of ticks can carry different diseases, ranging from Lyme Disease to tick-borne relapsing fever. The most common ticks that affect humans are Wood ticks, more commonly known as Dog ticks, as they are the pests most likely to attach themselves to pets.


Unlike ticks, whose habitat is predominantly outside in fields or forests, the habitat of bed bugs is almost always within places that humans reside. This does mean that as a hotel, ticks are typically less likely to become a problem, however, the effects of their presence are equally as bad as bed bugs.


Their feeding habits are also very different.


Bite Marks: Tick vs Bed Bug

The feeding habits and behaviors of the tick have some similarities to the bed bug but are mostly entirely different from one another. They both are drawn to body heat and the carbon dioxide that is expelled from bodies. This is backed up by research into the behaviors of ticks, where they were found to be drawn to a sheet of dry ice, due to the CO2 that it gave off.


Once they have located a host, they wait patiently to be able to latch onto them when they’re in close contact. This is the first main difference from bed bugs, as bed bugs move in a smaller radius, making it easier for them to feed on a host at night.


How they feed is also a big difference in their behaviors. Bed bug bites are usually in places where their skin is exposed overnight. They can leave multiple bites in one ‘sitting’. Bites of bed bugs tend to leave a straight line pattern on the exposed skin from where they feed.


Ticks, on the other hand, favor moist and warm areas of the body such as the armpits, the groin, and the scalp/the hair, among others. They will find a host and bury their head in the area to start feeding. Ticks will remain there until they are completely done with feeding and simply drop off of the host.


Signs of a Tick Infestation

Checking for a case of ticks, and potentially an infestation, is a lot more difficult than checking for bed bugs, as the main sign of them is either finding them attached to a human host, or small black or brown spots in the areas that they would have been attached to. There is also a possibility that you may find tick eggs or shells from a tick's nymphal stage, usually located around window frames or room furniture.



The other main sign of a tick infestation is the presence of tick-borne illnesses. Yes, ticks can carry major diseases and other illnesses - but the main one, tick-borne relapsing fever, is caused by an infection where the tick has bitten. The symptoms are very similar to other types of illnesses, so looking for these black spots on the body is important to rule out ticks. The symptoms include:

If you believe a hotel guest has been bitten by a tick and is displaying these symptoms you should direct them to get medical care as quickly as possible.


What Does This Mean for Your Hotel?


During warmer weather, such as in summer, the breeding cycle of ticks speeds up - and busy guest turnaround times and increased population density make it more likely for ticks to become an overwhelming presence in the hotel industry. If you are a pet-friendly hotel, you need to ensure that your guests are aware of whether there is a tick outbreak in the area and make sure they are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and other guests.


As ticks don’t reside naturally in hotels, it is less likely that any major repercussions would come from guests having been bitten by one. However, you need to protect yourself and ensure that you are doing everything possible to minimize risk.


Bed bugs, despite not being as likely to cause long-term harm to those that they bite, can have a larger impact on your hotel’s reputation. With them being solely present in spaces where people reside, any injuries or trauma caused will be blamed on the hotel.


How to Treat Pests

Both ticks and bed bugs can be treated and removed by professional pest control exterminators, but the best control measure is early detection and prevention.


With Spotta, your hotel can be the first to know about the presence of bed bugs which is an important step to eliminating the worry associated with the risk of infestation.


Get in touch with us today for more information about how we can become part of your pest solution.