Posted by: Mr Bed Bug in Canada Bed Bugs on December 22nd, 2021

Written by: A ONeill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

Did you know 84% of pest control companies reported they get called out to treat a particular pest (people often think its fleas), only to find that its actually bed bugs?

Its important to be able to identify and know what a bed bug looks like as you dont want to delay treating a growing infestation. From the description below and the following images, youll see that bed bugs are:

Lets find out a bit more about these pests.

The scientific name for bed bugs is Cimex lectularius and they are small, wingless insects with flat bodies. They are reddish-brown in color and are about the size and shape of a small apple seed.

They only feed on blood and prefer the blood of humans, but will also feed on animals.

They are nocturnal, so they hide during the day but a close inspection will find them on mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and in cracks and crevices near to where you sleep.

Bed bugs are not seasonal so they bite all year round, but they do prefer warm temperatures of between 70-80F (21 26C) so the female can lay her eggs.

Its easy to get them confused with similar-looking pests, and as mentioned above, a lot of people misidentify them, so the photos below will give you an idea of what they look like and what to look for.

Well begin by looking at what these bugs look like up close.

1. This photo is one that I took when treating a bed bug infestation.

In this close up you can see the segments on the abdomen and its six legs as its crawling on the mattress.

In front of the bed bug is a speck of fecal matter and just behind it is a bed bug egg.

Although this is not the actual size of a bed bug, it does show you what they look like and help you identify them if you think youve found one.

2. This picture is a good example of a bed bug close-up. You can see its feeding by piercing the skin and taking blood from the person.

One particular identifying feature of the bed bug as I mentioned above is the protruding eyes, which are situated to the side of the head.

Bed bugs will bite any area of skin exposed when youre sleeping.

Well get to the photos of bites to the face, back, and other areas of the body further down the page to get a good idea of what the welts look like.

3. I took the magnified photo below to show what bed bugs look like close up and how they compare in size to an apple seed (left) and a flaxseed (right).

Although other bugs are mistaken for bed bugs, they do have some features which will help you to correctly identify them, and these are:

Head short and broad with distinct eyes that are clearly seen on each side of the head.

They have a long proboscis to feed, which pierces your skin and sucks your blood. When not feeding, the proboscis is tucked back underneath the body.

Bed bugs have two antennae, each with four segments that work together as sensors for locating a blood meal.

Thorax is attached to the head and abdomen and enables the body to move.

Its not always easy to tell the difference between the thorax and the body, but the thorax is in three segments and the segment nearest the head is flatter and partly surrounds the head.

The legs and wing pads (bed bugs cannot fly despite having wing pads) are also attached to the thorax.

Abdomen the bed bug has 11 segments on its abdomen so the body can expand whilst feeding.

After feeding the body looks swollen, elongated, and darker in color.

You can also tell if the bed bug is male or female by the shape of this area. The female is larger with a rounded abdominal tip, whereas the male has a more pointed abdominal tip.

4. Here is a good picture of a bed bug as it shows you in detail all of the features mentioned above.

You can see how the segments on its body expand and become darker in color as it fills itself up with blood.

This is what a bed bug looks like after feeding.

5. A closer image of number 1 above. Although this photo is a bit blurry (its hard to take photos when youve got all of your pest control gear on).

Again, you can see the segments on the abdomen as it crawls across the mattress.

6. This frontal close-up image of the bed bug shows it is feeding. Notice its body is similar to the shape of an apple seed.

You can see the wing pads which dont actually develop into wings, so thankfully, bed bugs cannot fly.

7. I took this close-up photo when treating a heavily infested mattress and box spring.

The adults cluster together in their hiding spots.

You can also see what bed bug eggs look like which are the pearly-white, almost translucent oblong shapes in the photo. These have hatched as there is an opening at one end of them.

8. The next photo is an extremely detailed one of the head and thorax.

Obviously, you wont be able to see this level of detail with the naked eye, but I hope it gives you a good idea of their body shape.

9. Another good close-up photo of this dreaded pest using its mouthparts to pierce the skin and take in a blood meal.

Notice how the body has become longer as it feeds.

10. This is a great (but rather scary-looking) image that was created using a digitally colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM).

From this view, you can see the mouthparts of the bed bug which it uses to suck up your blood.

11. This picture is taken from a slide that shows a bed bugs body structure.

12. Can you tell the difference between male and female bed bugs? This picture shows a male (left) and a female (right) as well as bed bug eggs.

The males body is more pointed as this is where the sex organ is, and the females body is more of an oval shape and is wider than the males.

13. This photo (magnified picture at the top), although not very clear, shows both a male and female bed bug, as well as bed bug eggs.

You can see the fecal matter, which is digested blood.

14. An adult bed bug is about 5-7mm long. This up-close photo shows its size in millimeters.

This is an adult and as you can tell they are very small so they are excellent at hiding in the smallest of cracks and crevices in your bedroom, hotel room, workplaces, and anywhere people generally are.

15. This image indicates the size of a bed bug by the scale at the bottom of the picture. Again this is an adult and you can clearly see the segmented parts of the body.

16. This is a picture of a nymph, or bed bug baby after feeding.

Baby bed bugs can be hard to see as they are semi-translucent and as the measurement scale on the image shows, they are tiny.

This baby bed bug has had a blood meal which is the dark area in the abdomen.

17. The next picture shows the size of bed bugs in comparison to the coin.

The adult bed bug on the left has an elongated body meaning it has recently fed. If you think youve got bed bugs, then just remember this image to see how small they are when searching for them.

18. What do bed bugs look like on a mattress? If you look closely at the picture below youll see an adult crawling where the seam of the label joins the mattress.

Bed bugs can be found anywhere on or near the bed, and this shows just how carefully you need to inspect everything as they are so small and can easily be missed.

19. The image below is one I took after treating a house for an infestation.

To show the actual size of a bed bug, I placed it alongside a ruler and if you look close enough, youll be able to see it had fed shortly before it died.

20. How small are bed bugs? Small but you can see them with the naked eye.

I took this photo of a baby bed bug, probably 4th/5th instar, that I found during an after-treatment inspection.

21. The next photo is a close-up of a dead bed bug that was placed on the pen tip for size comparison, again to show what size they are.

22. I took the photo below to show the size comparison of a bed bug (middle), apple seed (left), and flaxseed (right).

This bed bug was not quite an adult, so an adult would have been slightly larger, but it still gives a good indication of their size and similarity.

There is also a close-up version of this picture at number 3 above.

23. Another close-up image I took of a bed bug at the end of a Q-Tip (or cotton bud if youre in the UK).

Hopefully, these pictures are giving you a good idea of what they look like and how easily they can hide away in the seams of your mattress.

24. And another for size comparison with the bed bug next to the Q-tip.

This bed bug had been dead a few weeks as you can tell by its dried-out appearance.

The following are pictures of bed bugs feeding on people.

As these pests are nocturnal, you often wont know you have bed bugs straight away because not everyone reacts to the bites, and if they do, they usually think its a bite from a different insect.

Adult bed bugs and nymphs will feed about once a week, and they need regular access to a blood meal so they can grow and reproduce.

Although they feed on your blood, and the blood of animals, thankfully they do not transmit diseases!

25. The image below shows an adult getting a blood meal from a person.

26. This picture of a bed bug shows the pest crawling on a persons hand and feeding.

If you woke up and discovered a welt on your hand, would your first thought be that its a bed bug bite?

27. This is a great bed bug poop photo! Not only is it defecating but its also feeding on a person at the same time.

The fecal matter is actually blood taken from a person which the bed bug has digested.

Notice how dark the dropping is. Well take a look at how you can spot this on your mattress in the photos further along.

28. You can see from the next picture exactly what bed bugs look like after feeding when the abdomen becomes longer and fuller as it fills with blood.

Newborn baby bed bugs (or nymphs or larvae as they are also called) are about 1mm (1/16) in size and look almost transparent as they are so pale.

They go looking for a blood meal after they hatch, and when fed their abdomen becomes red making them easier to spot.

Nymphs will molt five times before they mature, as long as they have access to blood.

As they molt and become bigger (a 5th stage baby bed bug will grow to about 4.5mm), they look like the adult bed bugs only smaller and become brownish-red in color.

Baby bed bugs can reach adulthood in about 21 days if temperatures are between 70-80F (21-27C), but the average time is usually about five weeks.

Once they become adults, they can reproduce and add to the infestation.

29. Apologies for the blurry image, but sometimes its quite difficult to get into spaces and get good photos.

This close-up photo of an infestation shows baby bed bugs (nymphs) in different life stages as their cast exoskeletons are visible. This means they have been able to grow to the next molting stage as they have had access to blood.

You can also see two adult bed bugs have fed as their abdomens are a darker color.

30. If this baby bed bug (nymph) wasnt filled with blood, it would be hard to see as its almost see-through.

Notice the prominent eyes at the side of the head.

31. In this photo you can again see that the immature bed bug has recently fed because of the dark area in the abdomen.

As it has had access to blood, it has been able to molt to the next growth stage (called instars) and leave behind its exoskeleton, which is at the top right of the photo.

32. This magnified image of baby bed bugs below shows a cluster of hatched bed bug eggs, tiny nymphs, and casings.

An adult female bed bug lays about 5 eggs a day and hundreds throughout her lifetime. She also mates with her offspring, so the infestation will just grow and grow unless treated.

The eggs are extremely small like a speck of dust (1mm) and are a translucent white color so you can imagine how hard they are to see with the naked eye.

The female uses a clear and sticky substance to attach the eggs to cracks and other surfaces like wood.

Read the rest here:
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like? 65+ Pictures Of Bed Bugs

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