Are the Black Bugs in My Bed Bed Bugs?

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: October 12, 2023
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Key Points:

  • There are many types of tiny black bugs, upon close examination, many are not bed bugs.
  • Most black bug infestations can be dealt with using home remedies
  • Check the crevices in your bed frame, headboard, and mattress often, and use a trap to catch and closely inspect the insect for proper identification.

If you see small black bugs around the house, especially in your bed, you may assume their bed bugs. Bed bugs, of course, are horrid little insects that hide behind tube lights, inside cushions, and peeling wallpaper. But, more famously, they love living in your mattresses and box springs. However, the presence of tiny black bugs in bed linen is not a sign of a bed bug infestation. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the facts behind these unpleasant black critters invading your spaces, what distinguishes the pests, infestation identification and how to get rid of small black bed bugs.

First, if you’re trying to identify if something is a bed bug, we recommend the Harris bed bug traps. They are affordable, easy to place, come in packs of 20, and allow you to capture bed bugs (among other creatures) and examine them more closely to confirm whether you do in fact have bed bugs or one of the other insects listed below.

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Types of Black Bugs

Tiny black bugs are not bed bugs. To be sure, bites aren’t an issue with many of these insects. The first thing to remember is bed bugs are brown or reddish-brown (a deep blood red if well-fed). They are also oval. While bed bugs do bite, they are never black.

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Any tiny black bugs in bed linen or soft furnishings may be the following:

Spider Beetles

Comparing sizes, spider beetles have bigger bodies. They are also more pantry invaders than bed inhabitants. But the creatures aren’t nomadic. Anywhere they land, especially if there’s a minute source of food, becomes their living space. And if they find a place to lay eggs, the insects hang up a home-sweet-home sign.

These insects are reddish-black or reddish-brown in color so the untrained can easily confuse them with bed bugs. But spider beetles are shiny and more reddish than the bed bug. They are also more spider-like, having three pairs of legs and antennae. Bed bugs are flat. Spider beetles have a hump. They also don’t leave bites. The creatures prefer dry foods and crumbs.

The spider beetle is bigger than a bed bug and inhabits the pantry.

©Henrik Larsson/

Black Carpet Beetle

The black carpet beetle is brown or black. They may have spots on their back. These insects lay eggs on materials and fabrics engineered from animal products. We’re talking leathers, silk, wools, feathers, and the like.

The black carpet beetle seems to find their way to beds in a lot of infestations. Like bed bugs, they’re oval-shaped in size but are slightly bigger. They hide in small gaps between the headboard and mattress, and bed frames. You’ll find them crawling on your sheets and blankets because — unlike bed bugs — black bugs aren’t nocturnal bloodsuckers that do their best (worst?) work at night.


Fleas are minuscule parasites that can appear black due to their size. But they’re actually brown and, like bed bugs, survive on bites and sucking blood. They usually find their way into homes via a pet. One good identification of fleas is the house pet’s doing a lot of scratching. If so, you may have a problem.

Female fleas lay up to 50 eggs a day. And the next generation of females will lay their 50. Left unattended, a single flea will live up to three months without blood. That means over time, a female can drop thousands of eggs in the home. Flea infestations happen quickly and you have to act fast to stop them.

Cockroach Nymphs

Cockroaches are nomads from birth. If you find the small bugs in your bed, it likely will be because they’re in transit. Nymphs are often mistaken for bed bugs simply because we see the tiny black bugs and perceive the worst. Cockroaches prefer dark places and close food sources. They are constantly searching for this which is how they end up almost anywhere. Bed bugs settle in and only come out to feed on hosts.

Bat Bugs

Bat bugs have an appearance similar to bed bugs, including the oval shape and size of an apple seed. They also have wing pads but don’t fly. Where the pests differ is the head of the bat bug has long hair. These critters are usually found where bats rest, including caves, chimneys, and attics. But if the bugs find themselves left behind because the bat dies or takes off, bat bugs will relocate and can show up in home beds.

While the pests of black color aren’t human bloodsuckers like the bed bug, the facts are they feed on human blood if no bats are around. An interesting note here is bat bugs cannot reproduce with no bats to feed on. Ergo, any bat bug invasion — depending on the infestation — may not last long, especially if you get right to work getting rid of them.

Are Bed Bugs Fully Black?

Bed bugs never appear black at any point in their life cycle. They start off as translucent when they hatch, then progress from a white or yellow hue as nymphs, transitioning to shades of orange, and finally adopting a reddish-brown color as they reach adulthood.

Fully grown bed bugs are reddish-brown as mentioned, and lack wings. They measure approximately the size of an apple seed.

Younger bed bugs, at any of their five nymphal instar stages, are also visible to the naked eye but are smaller than adults and have a translucent whitish-yellow appearance.

Finding Signs of Black Bugs Infestation

Should you wonder if you’re facing an infestation of these black insects, here’s what you want to look for.

  • Keep an eye out for eggs. They’re tiny in size and are often located in the crevices of bed frames, on mattresses, and around the bed.
  • If you’re finding a musty, damp smell in the bedroom, you’re looking at a resource little black bugs crave.
  • Watch for tiny eggshells or insect droppings around the bedroom, especially in the bed.
  • You may come across the following: bug wings, dead bugs, body parts. Those are insect remains and a clear sign a populace is hiding somewhere.
Cockroach nymphs are mistaken for bed bugs because we tend to think the worst when we spot a bug in the bed.


Getting Rid of Tiny Black Bugs

Bug infestations can be harmful to health, furnishings, and food. They can also be embarrassing. Here are a few tips to minimize their presence in the home.

Regularly Clean Closets

Bugs black in color may end up in your bed, but you can prevent their travel to your bedroom by keeping your closets and pantries clean. The bugs feed on fibers and many lay eggs in fabric. A cleaned closet will get rid of eggs and chase out invaders.

Maintain Your Pantry

Make sure you periodically check your pantry. Depending on the species, black bugs find themselves attracted to different types of food. That includes syrupy and sugary substances, grains, and old food giving off musty smells. Make sure you’re not holding onto expired products. Check containers as insects somehow find their way in.

Peppermint Oil

Take a drop of peppermint oil and mix it with an ounce of water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and get to work. Insects hate the touch and smell. They’ll look for somewhere else to be. And a bonus is the peppermint aroma helps keep the air fresh.

Neem Oil

A natural pesticide, facts are neem oil kills all types of insects and bugs without being harmful to household residents. Spray neem oil around the bedroom and anywhere else to help with a black bug infestation.

Use DE

Diatomaceous earth is a highly poisonous insect solution. Extracted from single-cell algae, it’s especially effective with bugs that have hard exoskeletons. DE’s not a threat to humans or pets and kills any insect it comes in contact with within two days.


Keep beddings clean with frequent washing and hot drying or steaming. Encasements can help too, keeping black bugs from hiding in your box spring and mattress. But they have to be good encasements (such as the right size) and properly installed. Creatures hiding in the bed will find themselves trapped. New bugs won’t be able to get in and will be easily spotted.

Get an Exterminator

If any of the above home remedy facts don’t do the job, reach out to pest control professionals. Most provide a free inspection, bug identification, and estimate. They have the expertise and experience for managing any black bugs in your bed.

Summary of Black Bugs:

  • Bat bugs
  • Cockroach nymphs
  • Fleas
  • Black carpet beetle
  • Spider beetle

The photo featured at the top of this post is © David Jara Bogunya/

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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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