Tick Look-alikes: Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

By Last Updated: April 26th, 2023Categories: Daily

Everybody hates ticks, it’s one of the most deadly bugs that we will see in our daily life.

It stings our kids, pets, and us so badly. And we can’t just pull it out from our skins when we see them sucking blood because doing so will make us get infected by the virus it contains. Horrible. It’s the last thing we want to see around us.

Luckily, ticks are not common. If you’re lucky, you won’t see one in your whole life.

Though we won’t see a bug every day, we will encounter some bugs that look like ticks. We may be freaked out at the first glance. Then have relief that it’s not a tick. To avoid panic when we see some bugs, we’d better learn to identify ticks and some lookalikes. Just in case we find them on our pets or even our skins and have no idea whether we should go to the hospital or not.

So, today, you will learn some common tick look-alike bugs and I will tell you how to identify them. Stay tuned.

A Brief Analysis of Ticks’ Characteristics

A lot of people have never caught or seen a tick before, let’s get familiar with ticks first. Otherwise, you have no idea how to compare a bug to a tick when you see it.

Ticks have 8 legs

The very obvious feature of a tick is that it has 8 legs. Compared to most 6-leg tick look-alikes, a tick has 2 more legs. Please note that ticks are a kind of mites. And all mites have 8 legs, like spiders.

While most bugs are typical insects that have only 6 legs. So, if you see a bug that looks like a tick, check the legs. If it only has 6 legs, it’s not a tick.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

Ticks have a pear/ovoid body shape

Another significant characteristic of a tick is that it looks like a minimized pear or ovoid with legs. A tick only has a head and an abdomen, no thorax.

Most bugs have 3 parts (head, thorax, and abdomen) that make them look like a thin and slender rice grain.

Ticks have no antenna

All insects have antennae, especially those common ones we’ve seen, like ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and beetles. But ticks have no antennae at all. You can’t find any from on their heads but the sucking mouthparts.

Weevil Beetles

There are around 97,000 accepted species of weevils and quite a lot of species look like ticks for their similar body sizes, colorful shells, and same pear-shaped bodies.

  • We’d better not judge an insect to be a tick or weevil based on its size. While an adult weevil is only a quarter inch (max) in length, a tick can be around 0.2 or 0.15 inch in length.
  • Also, the color cannot help you identify a bug as there are so many species and each has a different color on the shell.
  • Both weevils and ticks have similar pear-shaped bodies: small heads and big abdomens.

Then, how do we distinguish them? Take a look at the legs and the antennae.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

First of all, beetles, whatever species it is, have 6 legs only: all attached to the thorax part. And ticks have 8 legs.

Then, take a look at their heads. In China and Japan, weevil beetles are addressed as “insects that have long elephant-like noses”. How’s that? Check their snort. If you can see a long and straight snort on the bug’s head with two antennae attached, this is a weevil beetle for sure. And ticks? No snort and antennae, just a capitulum with two palps.

Other than these, if it flies, it’s not a tick. Ticks have no wings, while weevils have wings.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

What to Do if You Find A Weevil Around You?

Most weevil beetles are nontoxic, you can even eat them. If you see them in your house or on your clothes, just use the tissue to grab them and throw them outdoors.

Spider Beetles

Many people will take a spider beetle as a tick when they see it. That’s because the color and body of a spider beetle look so alike to a tick. That dull-red round body with long legs scares us.

But it’s actually effortless to identify a spider beetle and a tick: the antennae.

On the head, you will see two long antennae on a spider beetle’s head. The long antennae are why it’s called spider beetle – it’s so long that some will misunderstand them as legs.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

How about for ticks? No, they have no antennae at all!

Also, check the legs. All beetles have 6 legs, remember this. Spider beetles have 6 legs, of course, two less than ticks.

Head Lice

You may find some head lice on your kid’s hair and mistake them for ticks.

When we find this pest on our hair, we can’t help to take it as a tick since it makes us feel bad. It’s crawling on our hair and bites us on the scalp. It makes our heads feel itchy and very uncomfortable. As a result, the itchy feeling and similar look will remind you of another bug that lives and feeds on human bodies, the tick.

If you try to catch one head lice and take a close look at it, you will see the differences right away.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

First of all, they have different body shapes:

  • A tick has fused thorax and abdomen, making it look like a pear.
  • While a head louse is a typical insect that has three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. It’s narrower than a tick, like a grain of rice. Its thorax bears all 6 legs.

Also, head lice often appear in groups. It’s pretty difficult to feel the existence when it’s just one louse on your hair. When they breed for a week or also, you will feel itchy and find a group of head lice and the nits there.

As for ticks, they work alone.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

What to Do if You Find Head Rice on Your or Your Kids’ Hair? 

Head rice is so common that every day, there’re millions of victims according to the CDC. But don’t worry, it’s never deadly at all, it doesn’t carry the virus and germs as a tick has. So, you can calm down a bit.

Head lice are commonly found on children’s hair as they have more outdoor activities and will most likely have head-to-head contact (the way that head lice will be transferred)  with other kids.

When you find this pest and its eggs (officially, its nits) on your child’s hair, don’t worry. Wash his/her hair completely every day. All hair lice will be gone if it’s just the early stage. If they’re still there, go to the doctor.

Bed Bug

Having a similar pear-shaped body, bed bugs make us panic when we see them on our sheets and pillows. This disgusting pest lives where people sleep – the bed, and all those tight places near the bed, like joints and crevices of furniture. This is why it’s called bed bugs.

When you sleep in the middle of the night, a bed bug will come out from its dark corner and feed itself with your blood. Though it’s not as deadly as ticks, it still makes you itchy and painful.

If you only see it near your bed, it’s most likely to be a bed bug. Also, ticks love to stick their head into our skins and we can’t remove them easily. But bed bugs will return to their “cave” once they’re fed, leaving you rash on the skin only.

Bugs That Look Like Ticks, But Are Not

If you capture a bed bug, you will soon find out it has two antennae. Also, bed bugs have 6 legs, two less than ticks. By the way, though, you might need a magnifier: a bed bug has a head, a very small thorax, and a huge abdomen.

When bed bugs live in your house, don’t worry, buy some insecticides and use them near your bed.


When you see a bug that looks like a tick, don’t worry. Ticks are pretty easy to identify. First, check their heads, and find any snort and antennae. If you can’t find any, this bug is very likely to be a tick as it’s one of the very few insects that have no antenna on the head.

Next, find the thorax. If you can’t see a thorax on the crawling creature, it’s a tick. Most insects have three parts, head, thorax, and abdomen but the tick is special again for its two-part body, a small head, and a big round abdomen.

Also, count the legs. All insects have only 6 legs while ticks (not insects, but arachnids like scorpions and spiders) have 8 legs.


Most ticks hate indoor environments. They like grass and dirt. However, if you keep finding ticks in your house, that means you’ve somehow created an environment that they like.

First of all, do you have a garden or a lot of plants in your house? As mentioned, they like grass and dirt. And if both can be found at your place, they will breed there.

Next, is your place warm? No ticks like extreme heat and coldness. If you turn on the AC all day, making your house at a nice and comfortable temperature. Ticks live.

Then, do you have pets? Ticks love to target pets. Since pets are fluffy, you can’t really tell if ticks are hurting your pet. If you have pets, check carefully for ticks.

Lastly, check your small crevices at your place. Brown dog ticks love to breed in dark, narrow, and wet cracks. Check the wooden furniture especially.


Aphids look like ticks. Though they’re almost half the size of ticks, they have a similar body structure as a tick has – a fused thorax and abdomen. Also, for those wingless adults, aphids have short and obscure antennae that a lot of people will mistake as legs.

How to tell an aphid and a tick?

First of all, aphids come in groups and they will mostly be seen on trees, vegetables, and other plants. They suck the juice of leaves. While ticks live alone most of the time, it’s mostly seen on the skins of humans and pets. Also, some lucky dogs may catch one on the grass before it crawls up to your skin.

Then, check the color. aphids are mostly green, black, or orange while ticks are mostly brown.

Lastly, take a look at the head and the legs. On an aphid’s head, you will see two antennae that grow backward. Don’t mistake them as legs. An aphid has only 6 legs. What about a tick? It has no snort or antennae on the head. Also, it has 8 legs.

While mosquitoes are a big problem to humans, they are important to the ecosystem. They play a huge part in the food web as they feed fish, bats, dragonflies, and many more.

Yes, especially the bigger spiders. They can help you control and eliminate other pests in the house. However, there are times when the spiders become the problem, especially when there are too many of them.