Can you see bed bugs?

Can you see bed bugs?

There is a common myth, that bed bugs are too small for the human eye.   Is this true?  Can you see bed bugs?  The reason for this myth, isn't due to bed bugs being too small to see, but due to the fact that bed bugs are incredible good at hiding.

Bed bugs can be seen with the human eye.  They are about the size of an apple seed (up to 5mm).  While they CAN be seen, they often aren't for a number of reasons.

Close up and front view of an adult bed bug


Can you see adult bed bugs?

Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed (4.5 - 55mm).  So yes, you can see adult bed bugs, that is IF you're lucky enough to find them out and know when and where to look.

Bed Bug Size

See, bed bugs are big enough to easily be seen, especially on a light background, like a white bed sheet.  The problem is they are difficult to find.   We touch on this later in the article.

The other issue is that many other common insects look like bed bugs, so while you may find a bug in your bed, it may or may not be a bed bug.  

Fortunately, with a little help, bed bugs are pretty easy to identify.  See our guide on What Do Bed Bugs Look Like for more information, including lots of photos.

Bed Bug Color

Adult Bed bugs can also be different colors.  Normally they are a brown, but if they have just eaten, they will be bloated looking, and a reddish brown color.

Adult Bed Bug


Traditional Bug Characteristics

Adult Bed bugs have the traditional "bug" characteristics as well, which include:

  • Four-part antennas
  • A three segment beak
  • No wings
  • Short hairs with a light brown/golden appearance
  • Six legs

A unique smell

Bed bugs often have a very unique smell as well.  When examining your bed sheets, or even a bug itself, you'll often smell a sweet/musty smell.  It's hard to describe, but you'll know it when you smell it.

Can you see baby bed bugs?

While adult bed bugs are easy to see, assuming you can find them, baby bed bugs are a much bigger challenge.  You'll more than likely see bed bug eggs before you see a baby bed bug, or bed bug nymph.

Baby Bed Bug

Not only are baby bed bugs much smaller than adults, they are translucent in color making seeing them very difficult.  However, if they have recently eaten, they will be a bright red, which helps.   

Baby bed bugs are also often hiding, even more so than adults.  Again, they are excellent hiders, making them difficult to find.

Bed bug life cycle

Baby bed bugs are also much smaller than adults, with their size varying by the lifecycle stage they are in:

  • Stage one: 1.5 mm
  • Stage two: 2 mm (the size of a pin head)
  • Stage three: 2.5 mm
  • Stage four: 3 mm
  • Stage five: 4.5 mm (adult)

Can you see bed bug eggs?

One of the more common ways to confirm you have bed bugs is to find and see bed bug eggs.   Bed bugs eggs, are well gross, but a very good indicator that you in fact have bed bugs.

bed bug signs

Female bed bugs can lay up to 250 eggs in their average lifespan, and those eggs typically hatch inside of 10 days.   Baby Bed Bugs become adults within a month.   This gives you some perspective on how quickly a small bed bug problem, can become a big one.

Bed bug eggs are small, and pearly white in color.  They are laid in large groups, making them much easier to find.   They are very sticky, and have that typical bed bug sweet/musky smell.

Can you actually see bed bug eggs?  Yes, assuming you can find them.  They are often laid in very difficult to reach and see areas.  One of the most effective ways to reach and kill them is a bed bug steamer.

Vapamore MR-100

The Vapamore MR-100 Primo steamer produces steam with an output temperature between 210˚ to 220˚ degrees.  Bed bugs and bed bug eggs are killed on contact at a temperature of 180˚ degrees.

Using steam from the Vapamore MR-100 is an extremely effective and chemical free way to kill these bed bugs.   The tools supplied with the Vapamore MR-100 Primo allows you to treat all areas where bed bugs hide including bedding, sofas, furniture, pillows, carpet, cracks and crevices.

The included attachements offer easy steaming of furniture and bedding, along with high pressure access to more difficult to reach areas, and is highly effective at killing bed bugs eggs.  Pressure is fully adjustable, to meet all your needs.

The large water container lets you keep steaming for up to 60 minutes without stopping, which minimizes the risk of bed bugs running away.

The Vapamore MR-100 comes with a lifetime warranty and full access to customer support as well.


Why bed bugs are difficult to see and find

People can go months without seeing bed bugs, yet wake up with new bites almost on a daily basis.  In fact, we were talking with a Mom on our Bed Bugs Facebook page recently, and she has never actually seen a bed bug, but her son is getting bit by them frequently.   

How is this possible?  Well, bed bugs are exceptional at hiding, especially during the day.   They are small, and very flat, allowing them to hide in hard to reach, and difficult to see areas of your home.   They can often be very difficult to find.

What do bed bugs look like

Common hiding locations include:

  • Bed frames (where the mattress or box springs touches the frame)
  • Under drawers in dressers and nightstands
  • In the corners of furniture legs, on the bottom side
  • Inside power outlets
  • Behind picture frames
  • Behind trim molding, and under carpet
  • In your mattress, and in particular a box spring

But be aware, they can basically be anywhere, although they are often very close to where you sleep, since you or a family member is their main food source.

How to find and see bed bugs

While bed bugs themselves are difficult to see, it's not impossible.   The best way to see actual bed bugs is to:

  • Have a bright LED flashlight or headlamp with you.  
  • Put white sheets on your mattress with no other covers or sheets, and remove your pillows.
  • Turn off all the lights in the room with the infestation, typically a bed room.
  • Lie down on the bed, and be very still for about 10-15 minutes
  • Get up, and quickly use the flashlight to scan the mattress, box spring, and bed frame quickly

If you don't see anything, repeat the steps.   Even using this technique, seeing bed bugs is still often difficult.

So instead of finding the bed bugs themselves, the most tell-tale sign you will have in your home are signs of bed bugs.  These include:

For more information, see our guide on How to Check For Bed Bugs.

Wrapping Up

Yes, you can see bed bugs, including adults,  babies/nymphs, and bed bug eggs.  That is, if you can find them.  

However, bed bug bites, and signs of bed bugs are much more ways of verifying that you actually have bed bugs.

Think you may have bed bugs?  Start Here!

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