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What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

As more and more bed bug infestations pop up across the United States, hysteria concerning these bugs is climbing with them. In fact, of the top 50 pest control terms searched for on the internet, the term "bed bugs" wins, hands down, beating out termites by over 5 times as many searches! If these bugs make you nervous, we have some good news. Bed bug infestations can be prevented by learning how to identify these pests and the signs they give. When you recognize a bed bug threat, you can prevent these hitchhiking bugs from traveling home with you. Here's what you need to know.

Visual Identification

Bed bugs can look different depending on when you see them. So, looking at a picture of a bed bug on the internet isn't going to give you all the information you need. These are the visual clues to look for:

  • Insect Characteristics: Since bed bugs are insects, the first things you want to look for are the characteristics that make these pests insects. All insects have 2 antennae, 6 legs, and 3 body parts. You might have trouble distinguishing the three body parts because the head and thorax of a bed bug looks like one big head, but you are sure to see the 6 legs and 2 antennae, and this will help you tell bed bugs from many other bugs.
  • Unfed: Bed bugs that have not had a recent blood meal can look black and are oval in shape. If you're seeing bugs that look like a tick but have only 6 legs, you could be looking at an unfed bed bug.
  • Fed: Bed bugs that have had a recent blood meal will have a bloated pill shape. Their coloring will also be rust-colored to bright blood red.
  • Female: If you're looking at a female bed bug, it will have more of a point on its oval abdomen. If it has recently had a blood meal it will be pill-shaped, but still have that distinct pointed abdomen.
  • Larvae: Bed bugs go through 5 instars (stages of development). The smaller they are, the more transparent their bodies will be. The youngest bed bugs can be as small as the tip of a pen.
  • Eggs: Bed bug eggs are white, and incredibly tiny. When seen through a magnifying glass, these eggs appear as shiny, smooth pieces of rice. These eggs can be in a clump or littered about.

When bed bugs get large enough, they will begin to show horizontal creases on their large abdomens. Since these are shiny bugs, those indents, or creases, are often quite visible.