What Is A Swallow Bug? How Bed Bug Is Different From It?

Many of our readers asked – what is a swallow bug?

So, we came up with a post which is the most comprehensive post on swallow bugs.

In this guide, we’ve revealed the differences between the bed bugs and swallow bugs that only the pros and etymologists know.

What is a swallow bug
Swallow Bug

The best part? It’s written in the simplest form that anyone can understand.

Once you’re done reading the post, you’ll be an expert in spotting them and getting rid of them from your home or property.  

Sounds good? Ok, let’s jump in.

What’s A Swallow Bug?

Swallow bug is one of the bugs that look like bed bugs. But these bed bugs look alike are a lot different from bed bugs.

Swallow bugs infest the nests of swallow birds. 

Swallow bugs are parasites that specifically target swallow birds and their nestlings to suck their blood. 

That’s how swallow bugs got their names. 

Swallow birds make nests out of mud pellets. They also use organic matters like grass, hair, feathers, and fur. These nesting materials make the swallow bugs hide easily inside the birds’ nests. 

There’re two kinds of swallow birds – cliff swallows and barn swallows. 

Both have different nesting habits. 

Cliff swallows build their nests in groups or colonies, nicely queued up one after the other. In contrast, barn swallows’ nests are solitary. You won’t find barn swallows building their nests in groups. 

The swallow bug infestation can get so severe that many adults abandon their nests and hatchlings. 

Barn Swallow Nest
Barn Swallow Nest

But it doesn’t end there. 

Swallow bugs latch on adult swallows’ feathers, making it possible for them to infest multiple nests. 

Many swallow birds, especially cliff swallows, return to the same nests. At least 44% of them prefer to get back to their old nests than build a new nest again.

Swallow bugs can go without food (blood) for a year. So, they lurk and wait in the nests till a new swallow bird shows up. 

The most exciting fact is that swallow bugs cannot multiply if they don’t drink blood. 

So, once they drank the blood of swallow birds, they reproduce. And the newborn swallow bugs wait for a year for the next swallow birds to show up. 

Swallow Bug Lifecycle

A female swallow bug can lay 20-30 eggs at a time. These eggs take 30-40 days to hatch. The newly hatched, known as nymphs, take another two and a half months to turn into an adult. 

An adult swallow bug can easily survive for 2-3 years. And female swallow bugs can lay 100 eggs in their lifetime. 

Swallow bugs live long. They don’t multiply as fast or in as big numbers as other bugs. It’s because their ability to reproduce is dependent on their blood meals. 

Can There Be Swallow Bugs In Your House?

Yes, there can be. If swallow birds are nesting in your home’s compound or building, there can be swallow bugs in your house. 

Some swallow bugs fall from the nests of the swallow birds in your home. That can be the moment when swallow bugs can crawl into your home. 

In your home, swallow bugs can hide in places like cracks on the floor, in the gaps of upholstery like couch foam, mattresses, and even in closets or wardrobes.

But it’s improbable that swallow bugs will infest your homes unless there’s a swallow bird nest in and around your home. 

Hotels and high rises in Colorado and Ohio have reported swallow bug infestations. That’s mainly because swallow birds are quite common in these states.

Do Swallow Bugs Bite Humans?

Yes, swallow bugs can bite humans if they’re living inside the home. 

The main reason swallow bugs biting humans is that their primary food source, swallow birds, is not around. 

If swallow bugs don’t find any swallows, then they can bite humans, mice, other birds, and bats. 

How Does A Swallow Bug Bite Looks Like?

The swallow bug bite looks more like bed bugs’ bite. But many people don’t get any red spots or itching when swallow bugs bite them. 

It’s only a sting like feeling that you feel when a swallow bug bites you. Some people can also have an allergic reaction to swallow bug bites.

How To Get Rid Of Swallow Bugs In Your House?

To eliminate swallow bugs, you need to check first if there are any swallow bird nests within your compound. 

If there is, then remove the nest. A swallow bird’s nest is the primary source of swallow bugs infestation. 

To treat your home to get rid of swallow bugs, we recommend hiring an experienced pest controller. It’s because getting rid of swallow bugs is like the process of getting rid of bed bugs, which means heat treatment. 

You’d also need to remove the swallow birds’ nest, treat the nesting area, and dissuade the swallow birds from nesting in your compound.

Only an experienced pest controller can do these. 

It’d be best if you don’t use any insecticide by yourself. You’ll expose yourself, your pets, your kids, and other birds to danger. 

As a temporary measure, you can use a bed bug spray on a swallow bug. Bed bug spray kills swallow bugs on contact. But this isn’t a long-term solution.

Some essential oils like rosemary oil, neem oil, and garlic oil, effectively kill swallow bugs if you apply them directly to them. 

But keep in mind that the effect of essential oils is not contagious, which means that it won’t kill the other swallow bugs that didn’t come in contact with the essential oil. 

Don’t use any insecticidal soap or bug bombs. It’s because the aerosol release from these repels the swallow bugs. It drives them into the inaccessible corners of the home.

It makes getting rid of them and treating your home complicated.  

Do Swallow Bugs Fly?

No, swallow bugs don’t fly, and they can’t fly. Swallow bugs don’t have wings either.

Swallow bugs have strong hind legs that help them to crawl and climb on the swallow nests. 

Swallow Bugs Vs. Bed Bugs – Differences Between The Two

Swallow bugs and bed bugs are quite similar looking, but there are some stark differences when you see them closely. 

Bed bugs are 5-7 mm in size, whereas swallow bugs are smaller, 3-4 mm in size. 

The significant difference between the two is that swallow bugs have visible antennae. Their hind legs are quite visible as well. Both features are absent in bed bugs, even though bed bugs have back legs. 

Another feature that distinguishes swallow bugs from bed bugs is body hair. Swallow bugs have a fine hair coating on their body, which is missing from the bed bugs’ bodies. 

And, finally, it’s the color. Swallow bugs are grayish, whereas bed bugs are reddish. 

It’s uncommon to find a swallow bug infestation in homes. Because humans, pets, and other warm-blooded beings are not a food source of swallow bugs.

But every home has a risk of bed bug infestation. 

Swallow Bug
Swallow Bug
  • 3-4 mm in size
  • Visible antennae
  • Visible hind legs
  • Grayish in color
  • 5-7 mm in size. Bigger than swallow bug
  • No antennae
  • Hind legs are not visible
  • Reddish in color
  • No hair coating on the body
Bed Bug
Bed Bug


In this post, we laid bare the differences between a bed bug and a swallow bug. We also revealed what a swallow bug is and where do they come from.

It’s important to note that swallow bugs are parasites on swallow birds, bats, mice, and other bird types.

Swallow bugs don’t prefer to bite you or infest your home. If they do, then it’s because there are no swallows around.