Bed Bug Pictures (actual size and enlarged)
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are small insects with oval shaped bodies, six legs and two antennae. Their coloration will vary depending on their age as well as whether or not they have fed recently. Nymphs (young bed bugs) are semi-translucent. When they feed they fill with blood, making their belly a dark brown and sometimes causing a spotted pattern where the blood is visible inside their abdomen. Adult bed bugs will be either a light brown with a flat, oval belly if unfed or a deep brown/red color with an engorged belly if they have fed.
The bed bug’s body size also varies through their lifetime. Nymphs or juvenile bed bugs range from the size of a bed bug egg (0.09 inches, 2.5mm) to the size of full adult bed bugs at ( 0.18 inches, 4.5mm). For reference, 0.1 inches is slightly over the thickness of a quarter. Adult bed bugs are approximately the size of an apple seed.
What do bed bug eggs look like?
Bed bug eggs are small (around 0.1 inches, 2.5mm) long and appear white or semi-transparent, similar to a grain of uncooked white rice. They will be sticky to the touch and usually clustered together. You can also find shed egg shells after the infant bed bugs have hatched, but as these are very small and can resemble general debris you should look for active bugs and eggs as well.
On average female adult bed bugs will lay 1-5 eggs per day. They can be laid on almost any surface but are typically found in cracks or rough surfaces, especially around your mattress seams. They hatch within about a week. Over her lifetime, a female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs. This and the fact that bed bugs are good at hiding allows bed bug populations to spread and grow quickly.
Identifying Bed Bugs
There are two keys to identifying live bed bugs.
First, their front legs bend forward. Bed bugs are insects and therefore have six legs, three on each side. Their legs are clustered in the front of their body, with their large abdomens behind their third set of legs. They also have large antennae that extend straight out to the sides of their heads, beyond the curl of their front set of legs.
Second, bed bug bodies have a very distinctive body shape. Notice the oval, almost egg-shaped body shown in the illustration. This is what you want to look for and the majority of your bed bugs (especially all nymphs) will have this shape. Adult bed bugs are capable of ingesting several times their body weight worth of blood, so their shape can change as they feed. They will go from relatively flat to more round, with an engorged abdomen. In rare cases they may have a more elongated appearance instead of the rounded oval seen here, but that will fade as they digest their food. Bed bugs that have fed recently are the most dangerous because they may be prepared to lay eggs.
What do dead bed bugs look like?
After treatment dead bed bugs will appear shriveled and curled up, with their legs and sometimes their heads curled into the middle of their body. In heat treatment they will often cluster together into a pile, as seen in this picture taken in the aftermath of heat treatment using a ZappBug Room. If you’re treating with pesticides or other products the bed bugs can shed their skin in an attempt to prevent death.
Signs of Infestation
Bed bugs leave signs of infestation that are very useful to help identify them. The most obvious of these is the dark stains similar to blood left by their feces. These will be especially evident in the areas where the bed bugs spend most of their time, such as the underside of a mattress. You should also be on the lookout for eggs and molted shells, which will often be in the same location as staining. If the infestation is severe enough you may notice a characteristic smell that has been compared to sweet moldy gym socks or rotting raspberries, although some have contested that it’s more like coriander. While it’s uncommon for the smell to be notable it’s very evident to dogs and there are now many canine detection services that can help you find out if you do have an infestation.
Remember that when you’re looking for bed bugs it’s best to find an actual bug to confirm infestations; the signs above are helpful but it’s easy to become hyper-vigilant and assume that any general debris is a sign when you’re stressed out about bed bugs.
Heat Treating Bed Bugs
If you find bugs with both curled front legs and a distinctive, oval body shape then there is a good chance that they are bed bugs. We highly recommend that you take a proactive approach to the situation and follow our 8-Step Approach to Get Rid of Bed Bugs. It’s a completely free guide packed full of information on the easiest and most effective ways of fighting bed bugs.
Heat treatment is a great way to kill bed bugs: they die within one minute at temperatures of 120F, without the use of any pesticides or sprays! ZappBug makes a line of affordable products that are able to safely treat most household items, including chairs, area rugs, shoes, books, files, papers, clothes, bedding, electronics and more. We offer three different sizes to suit all your needs, from carry-on luggage up to mattresses and couches. Please check out our ZappBug Heater, ZappBug Oven 2, and ZappBug Room for more information.