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Are Bed Bugs Worse Than Cockroaches?

If you have bed bugs and roaches, you may want to know which is worse so that you can determine your next course of action. 

So, honestly, are bed bugs or cockroaches more of a problem?

Really, neither bed bugs nor cockroaches are necessarily worse than the other. They are both pests that are hard to eliminate and can cause the occupants of an infected house a lot of stress. But, there are differences between the two that make some people believe one is worse. 

What Are the Differences Between Bed Bugs and Cockroaches?

Close-up photo of a cockroach.

Even though bed bugs and cockroaches are both annoying pests that are hard to get rid of, they are rather different insects that affect humans in distinct ways.

So, let’s look at some of the main differences between having a bed bug and a roach infestation. 

Bed Bugs Feed on People 

Usually, when people talk about bed bugs, the first thing they mention is their bites. 

Bed bugs are parasites and need to feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals to live. 

Thus, if you have bed bugs in your home, they will do everything they can to find a host and drink their blood. 

And although cockroaches do sometimes bite people, and their bites are more painful than bed bugs, roaches don’t like to be around humans and don’t consume human blood. 

Generally, it is the drinking of blood and propensity to bite that people find the most disturbing about bed bugs, and it is usually why some people believe they’re worse than roaches. 

Roaches Eat Human Food 

While bed bugs eat our blood, roaches prefer our food. 

Therefore, roaches get into our cupboards, where they consume, crawl over, and defecate on our food. 

Roaches can even chew through plastic, paper, and cardboard, making it hard to protect anything from them. 

The fact that roaches destroy food and make it inedible is the main reason some people see them as worse than bed bugs. 

Bed Bugs Are Small

If you have ever had to deal with bed bugs and roaches, you know that cockroaches are quite a bit bigger than bed bugs. 

And although many people are more disgusted by larger insects, tiny bugs pose a significant problem because they can hide in a lot more places. 

The average bed bug is about the size of an apple seed and is also pretty flat, meaning they can slip into just about any space. 

Roaches, on the other hand, are typically between 1.5 and 3.5 inches (4 and 9 cm) long. 

Thus, although both insects are frustrating to get rid of, many people find that bed bugs are more difficult to eliminate because they’re harder to see and therefore smash. 

Roaches Spread Disease 

Since bed bugs feed on blood, many people fear they will spread disease in the same way mosquitos do. 

But, there are no known cases of a person getting a disease from a bed bug. 

Roaches can, however, infect people with various ailments, including salmonella, dysentery, and staph and streptococcal infections

Roaches spread disease by ingesting bacteria, which can survive inside of them for months. 

Later on, when they defecate or vomit on food or food preparation spaces, they pass that bacteria on to the people who consume the contaminated food. 

So, although it is not too common for roaches to carry bacteria and pass it on to humans, it is possible. 

What Are the Similarities Between Cockroaches and Bed Bugs?

Since both roaches and bed bugs are pests, they, of course, share some similarities that make them equally annoying and troublesome. 

Both Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Many people don’t realize that bed bugs and roaches can both cause allergic reactions. 

And generally, people allergic to bed bugs will experience a reaction when the insect bites them. 

Meanwhile, a person with a roach allergy only has to make contact with a cockroach or its droppings for symptoms to appear. 

Both allergies can cause itchy skin, a rash, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis. 

Both Reproduce Quickly 

On average, female bed bugs lay one egg per day, but they can lay as many as seven during this time. 

These numbers work out to anywhere between 7 and 50 new bed bugs a week from a single mature female. 

Cockroaches lay a similar number of eggs, with a female producing two egg sacks every week, each containing up to 16 eggs. 

However, bed bugs hatch much faster, in only 10-15 days, whereas roach eggs take 6 to 8 weeks to hatch. 

Yet, both bugs can multiply in a short amount of time, leading to a sudden explosion in their population. 

Both Are Hard to Exterminate  

Whether you have bed bugs or roaches, you’re in for a fight because neither die easily. 

Both of these insects are good at hiding and squeezing into small places, which makes them difficult to find and kill. 

They are nocturnal bugs as well, meaning you won’t see them too much when you’re awake. 

Plus, their eggs are pretty hard to kill, so there’s a good chance the colony will come back. 

However, many people claim that bed bugs are a bit more challenging to get rid of completely. 

It’s a tad harder to exterminate bed bugs because they don’t fall for traps near as often as roaches. 

Basically, since roaches eat the same food we do, we can leave out food traps. 

Bed bugs, though, only consume human blood, so you can’t really tempt them with food. 

Both Cause a Lot of Stress 

Any bug infestation will leave a person and their family feeling stressed out, but roaches and bed bugs seem to be the ones that upset people the most. 

Roaches and bed bugs are particularly hated because they are difficult and sometimes expensive to exterminate. 


For the most part, which of these two insects you think is worse really comes down to your personal dislikes and your individual experience with them. 

Generally, though, people lump roaches and bed bugs into the same category since they’re both annoying, resilient, and can potentially cause health problems.