Bed bugs are one of the worst pests that can infest a home.
You can usually tell if you have bed bugs by the itchy red bites they leave, but some don’t leave marks at all.
In those cases, you can only tell by seeing bed bugs yourself–and with this guide on bed bugs pictures, you’ll be able to do just that.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to identify a bug when you only see it briefly. However, bed bugs have a few distinguishing features that can help you identify them.
Size and Shape
Bed bugs have small, flat, oval-shaped bodies, about four or five millimeters in size. Though young bed bugs, called nymphs, are the size of a pin, adults are visible to the naked eye.
You might often see them in cracks and crevices of walls or the nooks and crannies of furniture.
Adult bed bugs are brown, though bodies become red after feeding on human blood.
Newly hatched nymphs, on the other hand, are white or tan before feeding.
Bedbugs are primarily nocturnal creatures and feed near dawn, though they can adjust depending on when you’re awake.
They bite into their host’s skin and feed for several minutes, shifting their position if they’re disturbed–which is why bed bug bites tend to appear in rows.
Lifecycle of a Bed Bug
After hatching, bed bugs go through five different life stages, during which they grow increasingly large.
The youngest bed bugs are about 1.5 millimeters in size, while the oldest are about 5.5 millimeters.
Bed bug eggs are very small, being no larger than a pinhead.
However, if you do see one, you can recognize it by its pearly color and possible “eye spot”–a dark spot in the egg that appears if it’s over five days old.
After bed bugs hatch, they become nymphs. They start this stage at about 1.5 millimeters in size but go through four larval life stages.
During each life stage, they grow 1 millimeter. By the end of this life phase, nymphs measure around 4.5 millimeters.
By the time they reach adulthood, bed bugs measure around 5.5 millimeters long.
How to Spot Bed Bugs
People often confuse bed bugs with other pesky bugs.
Check for these telltale signs that the insects in your home are truly bed bugs.
As their name suggests, bed bugs frequently inhabit mattresses and box springs.
But they are just as common in various other places, including pillows, curtains, and crevices, so be vigilant if you think you have an infestation (more on that in a moment).
Unlike many other insects, bed bugs do not fly.
However, they are extremely agile and can move quickly across floors, walls, and ceilings.
How to Search for Bed Bugs
Because bed bugs are elusive, it’s good to be thorough.
Use a flashlight to increase visibility and run a flat-edged object over things in your bedroom–your mattress, the insides of drawers, curtains, etc.–to detect and sweep away bed bugs.
Be sure to check crevices!
What Are Bed Bugs Commonly Mistaken For?
Bed bugs are fairly similar in appearance to cockroaches and carpet beetles. However, they can usually be distinguished upon close examination by their oblong shape and ruddy color.
Bed bugs leave several signs to indicate their presence. Most notably, you might find small blood spots on your sheets or pillows from where they’ve bitten you.
However, you also might see rust-colored excrement, milky white eggs, or shed skins on your mattress or the underside of your bed.
Bed bug bites are very easily confused with mosquito bites: they are small red welts that might be anywhere on your body.
For that reason, you usually need to be able to see a bedbug to confirm that you’ve been bitten by one.
Bed bugs have a distinctive smell–they give off a musty or sweet odor produced by glands on the underside of their body.
If your room has an unidentified smell matching that description, you might have a bed bug infestation on your hands.
Getting Help Identifying a Bed Bug
If you feel uncertain about whether the bug you’re seeing is a bed bug, try giving a call to the National Pesticide Information Center’s county extension offices.
These offices are connected to resources at state university entomology departments and can help you identify a possible bed bug.
Where Are Bed Bugs Found?
If you’re suspicious of a bed bug infestation, check the following areas for these tiny intruders.
Where Do Bed Bugs Live?
Bedbugs are very adaptable and can make their home in a wide variety of places.
You’ll typically find them in shelters, hotels, and other places where many people travel through–and they can hide in books, phones, radios, carpets, or even outlets.
What Places Are Likely to Get Bed Bugs?
You can find bed bugs across the United States, most commonly in major cities throughout the East, West, and Southwest.
While areas of the Midwest and Great Plains do not see bed bugs as commonly, infestations are still possible.
Why Are Bed Bugs So Common?
Professionals exterminated bed bugs for decades following World War II with DDT, a pesticide that is very hazardous to humans.
It was later banned, causing the bed bug population to recover to the level it maintains today.
Things to Consider
Because bed bugs are both persistent and adaptable, it can be challenging to get rid of them. However, here are a few things to consider to help you end your infestation:
- Bed bug bites are commonly confused with mosquito bites. However, you can often tell the difference by noting whether there’s any pattern to the bites; if there are a line of multiple bites, then you’ve been bitten by bedbugs.
- After finding bed bugs, clean your linens, curtains, and clothes in hot water and tumble dry them on high.
- Vacuum your bed and the surrounding area often, but before you do that, make sure to scrub the mattress with a stiff brush to dislodge the bed bugs.
- After you vacuum, empty the vacuum into a trash can and immediately put it outside–you don’t want the bed bugs to escape!
- Wrap your mattress in a tight, zippered cover for at least one year. Since bed bugs can live up to one year without feeding, this will starve out any who remain in your bed.
- Frequently check your plaster and wallpaper to make sure there are no places where bed bugs can hide.
- Remove clutter from around your bed.
- Consider disposing of your mattress and buying a new one entirely–but clean your entire home before purchasing a new one so that you don’t get a new infestation.
- You often need chemical agents to eliminate bed bug infestations, but make sure you’re using one with a specific label that notes it’s safe for mattresses and linens.
- If all else fails, hire an exterminator. They’ll be able to take extreme measures to take care of your bedbug infestation.
Though bed bugs are pesky pests, identifying them is crucial to removing an infestation from your home. In particular, be on the lookout for tiny, red-brown, oblong bugs and their whitish-yellow spawn.
If you find any of the signs of bed bug infestation that we mentioned previously, be vigilant for the bugs or their eggs around your space–and when in need, always be ready to give a call to a local pest control expert.