What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

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If you search for bed bugs on the internet, you will quickly get many images to reference what bed bugs look like. And, if you look long enough and close enough, you'll see all of the information you need to detect these bugs in your home, on vacation, at your workplace, and all of the other many locations these blood-eating pests can infest. But, when looking at a photo of a bed bug, you need to take in all the information.

a bed bug on a human body

Bed Bug Identification

Few people would not recognize a photo of an adult bed bug. This oval-shaped, rust-colored insect with its two antennae, six legs, and shiny lines across its abdomen is quite distinct. But, when you see a bed bug in real life, that stereotypical image of a bed bug may fail to help you recognize this bug. Here are a few ways that may happen:

Bed Bug Color

If you look at the photo of a rust-colored bug, you may be tempted to think that bed bugs are only rust-colored. If you see an image of a bed bug that looks black or dark brown, you may think all bed bugs are this color. The truth is bed bugs come in many colors.

  • When this bug first hatches from its egg, it is mostly transparent and pale in color.

  • As a bed bug grows, it will become more rusty-red in color.

  • If a bed bug has had a blood meal, its abdomen will be filled with blood. This blood will change the color of the bed bug because, in all stages of development, bed bugs are somewhat transparent. This transparency is more pronounced in the first instar (development stage) of the bug. But, if a newborn bed bug has fed or is feeding, it will look bright red.

  • Bed bugs can look black. This is because the feces of a bed bug are black. Since these bugs have transparent skin in all of their instars, they can see their feces coated on their internals. The younger the bed bug, the more this black coloring will look on the inside of the bug. But, since the skin of an adult bed bug is more opaque, this black internal coloring can make the bug look like a black bug in certain lighting conditions.

Bed Bug Size

When you look at a picture of a bed bug, it can be easy to miss the scale of this insect. When bed bugs first hatch, they are smaller than the tip of a pen; and even a fully mature adult bed bug is no more than the size of an apple seed. Here are a few things you should look for in the photo of a bed bug to understand the scale of this bug.

  • When bed bugs are pictured on the skin, you're likely to see details like creases, pores, and wrinkles. When you see this bug on your body, be aware that it will be extremely tiny.

  • When you see photos of bed bugs on items, you'll notice that you'll see fabric threads, detailed wood grain, and other minute details. If you're looking for bed bugs in your home, you're going to have to look close. Very close. It is probably possible to fit 50 adult bed bugs on the face of a single nickel.

Fed Or Unfed

If all you see are pictures of a flat, oval-shaped, reddish bug, you may not recognize a bed bug when it is feeding on you. Bed bugs are only flat and oval when they are not filled with blood. Since you are most likely to see this insect when it is feeding on your skin, you should know that it will be more of a pill shape as it gets bloated with blood. It will also be more reddish in color.

The Smell Of Bed Bugs

When you look at a photo of a bed bug, you'll see that it has two antennae, six legs and that it comes in many colors depending on the transparency of its skin, the amount of feces inside its body, and whether or not it has recently fed. But, what you won't be able to see is what it smells like. If enough bugs are infesting a particular location, you may be able to identify these bugs by a pheromone scent that can only be described as the smell of a moist, dirty locker room towel.

It is important to know what a bed bug looks like. Proper identification of this pest can help you take measures to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking their way into your home or from continuing to plague you with bites if an infestation has already taken root.

Get Started With Professional Bed Bug Control!

For immediate assistance with a bed bug infestation in Nassau County, Westchester County, and Long Island, reach out to Parkway Pest Services for effective treatments to get rid of bed bugs. We'll help you make those bed bugs dead bugs.


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