What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Imagine you wake up after a restful night of sleep. You yawn and stretch, and ... then you itch?  Wait a minute ... You glance down to your leg to see those dreaded red bumps you've read about, but thought you could never get.  Could it be...bed bugs??  

What do bed bug look like?   Could it be another insect?  Is there a difference between what an adult bed bug looks like and what a newly hatched bed bug looks like?  Where do you even look for those “buggers”?

Well, slap on some Calamine Lotion and keep reading for some answers to the question what do bed bugs look like.  We'll help you learn what bed bugs look like, whether you have them or not, and if you do, what you can do about it!

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like - A game of Hide and Seek

Bed Bug Up Close

The photo above is a close-up of an adult bed bug, that shows is a great amount of detail exactly what bed bugs look like.  In order to determine if you have them, you’ll first need to look for them and compare what you find.

Adult Bed bugs are generally brown in color, and about the size of an apple seed (4.5mm).    Baby Bed Bugs, more commonly called larva or nymphs are more clear in color, but can have red spots, if they've recently fed (yes the red is most likely your blood being digested).

We'll warn you, they are hard to find ... often nearly impossible.  They are really good at hiding, and can move quickly when they feel threatened.

The obvious place you'll want to first look is on your bed, mattress, boxspring, and in your bedding, of course. There's a reason they are called BED bugs after all!

See, bed bugs need to feed to live in grow, much like you and I.  There source of food, is unfortunately you.   Adult Bed Bugs generally feed every 3 days.  They'll come out of hiding, at night when they sense you in the bed and feed on your blood.  They'll then crawl away to mate, and digest, while you wake up and suffer from the intense itching left by their bite marks.

Your bed is the perfect hiding spot for them.  It has lots of small hiding places, and provides easy access to you.  But your bed is not the only location bed bugs can be found.

They can also be found in dresser drawers, furniture, or even that pile of clothes you forgot to put away last week. Bed bugs have even been known to make their hideouts in electrical sockets as well. Shocking, we know (sorry, we couldn't resist)!

What do bed bugs look like

If you don't find any bed bugs, that does not mean you don't have an infestation, it just means that you couldn't find them.   Fortuantely there are a number of other signs that will tell for you for sure that you have bed bugs.

Bed bugs like to leave you little “gifts”, such as the skin casings they will shed as they start to mature. You can also determine you have some uninvited house guests by looking for small blood stains and bug “droppings”.  Droppings are small black dots, that smear when touched.

Bed bugs also lay eggs, and lots of them.   Eggs are semi-transparent while, and are often layed in clusters.  Bed bug eggs are also very sticky.

Not only are bed bugs an unwelcome nuisance, but they are rude and do not clean up after themselves!  They even bite!

>> Check out our Bed Bug Detection Guide for more information <<

What Does a Mature Bed Bug Look Like?

Like all living creatures, Bed Bugs have a lifecycle.  They start off as eggs, and grow into adults, by feeding on blood, preferably human blood.

In general, an adult bed bug will be roughly the size of an apple seed (4.5mm). A common misconception that developed is that bed bugs are microscopic and not noticeable to an astute observer!  Not true.

As we mentioned, bed bugs are just really good at hiding, and therefore are often not seen, making them difficult to detect and see.  But they are definitely visible to the naked eye.  

Check out this video of a NY Pest Company that came across one of the worst bed bug infestations we've ever seen!

Adult Bed Bugs are very flat, much like a tick, oval in shape, and wingless. That’s right, thankfully these little creeps cannot fly!

Mature bed bug are brown in color, however if has just fed, it will turn a rusty red color.

Adult Bed Bug

They Have Gross Babies Too

Bed bug babies, or nymphs as they are called, will definitely be more difficult to see. The newly hatched baby bed bugs are roughly the size of the head of a pin and are translucent white or tan.

Talk about finding a needle in a haystack!

Luckily, these immature bed bugs will also have that after dinner rust red glow about them, making detection a bit easier albeit with some scratching most likely involved.

Baby Bed Bug

A “True Bug”

Another defining characteristic of bed bugs that will help you answer the questions of: What do bed bugs look like, is that they are classified as a “true bug”.  Meaning that they have a beak, their antennae will be in four parts, there will be vestiges of wings, but they are flightless. Bed bugs have short golden hued hairs that run along their bodies, and like all true bugs, have six legs.

Bed bugs also produce a sweetish, slightly musty stink that originates from odor glands on the underside of their little bodies. They can literally be sniffed out, especially by trained dogs!

In fact, there are some exterminators that use specially trained bed bug dogs to help determine if that odor is from a bed bug infestation, or just some bad cologne you bought.

How to Quickly Identify a Bed Bug

Adult bed bugs have the following characteristics:

  • Size of an apple seed
  • Brown to rust red in color
  • Commonly found in dark crevices
  • “True bug” with six legs, a beak, flightless
  • Stinky!

How to Quickly Identify a Baby Bed Bug

Baby or nymph bed bugs can be identified by the following:

  • Size of the head of a pin
  • Whitish to tan in color
  • Sheds its casings as it matures

>> Visit our Bed Bug Pictures Page! You'll find lots of pictures to view and compare against <<

Rest Easy!

So, what do bed bugs look like?

Truly the stuff of nightmares! However, now that you are armed with all of this itch inducing information, you will now be able to sleuth out the answer like a true Sherlock Holmes in the Case of the Itchy Epidermis!

Sweet dreams, sleep tight and oh ... don’t let the bed bugs ... well you know the rest!

If you think you may have bed bugs, head over to our bed bug detection and bed bug treatment guides for more information.  Don't wait, the longer you wait, the worse your infestation may get!

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