Do you think you may have bed bugs in your home, but you’re not sure? Bed bugs are so tiny they can be hard to identify positively, especially if you don’t precisely know what you’re looking for. So, what do bed bugs look like?
We’ve put together this guide with some helpful information. Plus, we included over 50 images of bed bugs to help you identify the pest that’s causing you a problem. Once you know who the culprit is, you can begin to take the right action to eradicate the pests.
But first of all, what is a bed bug?
What is a bed bug?
Bed bugs are tiny, parasitic insects that feed on human blood.
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They are attracted by your body heat and the carbon dioxide you exhale as you sleep. These pests are nocturnal, coming out of their hiding places to feed at night, typically when you go to bed. That’s one reason they’re so hard to spot.
Unlike fleas, bed bugs can’t jump; they move around by slowly crawling. By comparison, fleas also feed on mammalian blood, but they live on their host. Bed bugs live hidden away from their food source, but close enough to access it once darkness falls.
Not to be confused with head lice, bed bugs bite their victim all over the body, whereas lice live among your hair and only bite your scalp, hairline, and behind your ears.
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs have small, oval-shaped bodies. Their bodies are flat, allowing them to fit into the tiniest of hiding places. Between floorboards, under wallpaper, inside cracks and screw-holes in your bed frame, and inside the boxsprings of beds and other furniture are ideal spots.
Adult bed bugs are brown, turning a deeper reddish shade after feeding. A fully-grown bed bug measures between 4mm to 5mm in length, making them visible to the naked eye. Newly hatched nymphs (juvenile bed bugs) are roughly the size of a pinhead and are tan or white until they feed.
Signs of bed bug infestation
If you do have bed bugs, there are a few telltale signs to look out for, including:
- tiny blood spots on your sheets
- cast skins or minute amounts of bed bug feces on your bedding or the floor around your bed
- bites on your skin, typically in clusters or in a zig-zag pattern, on exposed areas of your body
Bed bugs can sometimes be found by using a magnifying glass and a bright light to check out favorite hiding places. You can check during the day when the bed bugs are resting-up, digesting their meal. Look around seams in your mattress, tiny cracks in wooden bedframes, gaps between floorboards or baseboards, under peeling wallpaper, etc.
What do bed bug bites look like?
Often, the first sign of a bed bug infestation is when you discover you’ve been bitten.
Thanks to a cunning evolutionary quirk, you won’t feel the insects biting you. That allows the insects to feed on your blood undetected for up to ten minutes! Once the bed bug has eaten its fill, it has plenty of time to make its escape while you slumber on unaware that you’ve just been assaulted.
Bed bugs usually bite on exposed areas of your body such as your face, arms, legs, neck, etc. Bed bug bites can go unnoticed for hours or even days.
Some people may develop a reaction to the bites. Victims often experience itching, reddening of the skin, a burning sensation, and sometimes a rash. However, other victims may not react all to bed bug bites.
Bed bug bites often appear in clusters or in lines of tiny, red marks where multiple bugs have marched along an exposed area, feeding as they go.
How do you get rid of bed bugs?
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate as they are so good at remaining hidden, only venturing out at night while you’re asleep.
It’s advisable to hire a professional pest controller to tackle a severe infestation. However, there are some steps you can take to stop a minor problem before it becomes a full-scale home invasion.
Bed bug traps can be used to prevent bugs that live away from your bed from gaining access to you while you sleep. You can also use a bed bug heater to exterminate any bed bugs living in your furniture, carpets, and clothes, without having to use toxic insecticides. Check out our Buyers’ Guides to the best bed bug traps and bed bug heaters via the links above for more detailed information.
Pictures of bed bugs
Now you know what kind of pest you’re dealing with, here are some images to help you make a positive identification.