What Do Bed Bugs Look Like? 65+ Pictures Of Bed Bugs

Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

Did you know 84% of pest control companies reported they get called out to treat a particular pest (people often think it’s fleas), only to find that it’s actually bed bugs? 

Close up of reddish-brown adult bed bug

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?


It’s important to be able to identify a bed bug as you don’t want to delay treating a growing infestation. From the description below and the following images, you’ll see that bed bugs are:

  • Small with protruding eyes, six legs, and two antennae
  • Light brown color with flat bodies when unfed
  • When feeding they become a dark brown/reddish color with an engorged and elongated body
  • The adult grows to 5-7mm (3/16 of an inch) in length and up to 10mm (just over ⅜ of an inch) after a blood meal
  • Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, grow from 1mm – 4.5mm, are semi-translucent, so they are easily missed when looking for an infestation. When feeding their abdomen fills with blood, becomes red in color, making them easier to spot.  As they mature they become darker in color like the adults. 

Let’s find out a bit more about these pests.

What Are Bed Bugs?

The scientific name for bed bugs is Cimex lectularius and they are small, wingless insects with flat bodies.   They are reddish-brown in color and are about the size and shape of a small apple seed.

They only feed on blood and prefer the blood of humans, but will also feed on animals.

They are nocturnal, so they hide during the day but a close inspection will find them on mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and in cracks and crevices near to where you sleep.

Bed bugs are not seasonal so they bite all year round, but they do prefer warm temperatures of between 70-80°F (21° – 26°C) so the female can lay her eggs. 

It’s easy to get them confused with similar-looking pests, and as mentioned above, a lot of people misidentify them, so the photos below will give you an idea of what they look like and what to look for.

We’ll begin by looking at what these bugs look like up close. 

Bed Bug Pictures Close Up

1. This photo is one that I took when treating a bed bug infestation

In this close up you can see the segments on the abdomen and its six legs as it’s crawling on the mattress. 

In front of the bed bug is a speck of fecal matter and just behind it is a bed bug egg. 

Although this is not the actual size of a bed bug, it does show you what they look like and help you identify it if you think you’ve found one.

Close up of adult bed bug crawling of white mattress

2. This picture is a good example of a bed bug close up. You can see it’s feeding by piercing the skin and taking blood from the person. 

One particular identifying feature of the bed bug as I mentioned above is the protruding eyes, which are situated to the side of the head.

Bed bugs will bite any area of skin exposed when you’re sleeping. 

We’ll get to the photos of bites to the face, back, and other areas of the body further down the page to get a good idea of what the welts look like.

Close up image of an adult bed bug feeding on a human
CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack Publicdomainfiles.com.

3. I took the magnified photo below to show what bed bugs look like close up and how they compare in size to an apple seed (left) and a flaxseed (right).

Dead bed bug between apple seed and flax seed size comparison

What Does A Bed Bug Look Like Up Close?

Although other bugs are mistaken for bed bugs, they do have some features which will help you to correctly identify them, and these are:  

Head – short and broad with distinct eyes that are clearly seen on each side of the head. 

They have a long proboscis to feed, which pierces your skin and sucks your blood.  When not feeding, the proboscis is tucked back underneath the body. 

Bed bugs have two antennae, each with four segments that work together as sensors for locating a blood meal.

Thorax – is attached to the head and abdomen and enables the body to move. 

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the thorax and the body, but the thorax is in three segments and the segment nearest the head is flatter and partly surrounds the head. 

The legs and wing pads (bed bugs cannot fly despite having wing pads) are also attached to the thorax.

Abdomen – the bed bug has 11 segments on its abdomen so the body can expand whilst feeding. 

After feeding the body looks swollen, elongated, and darker in color. 

You can also tell if the bed bug is male or female by the shape of this area. The female is larger with a rounded abdominal tip, whereas the male has a more pointed abdominal tip.

4. Here is a good picture of a bed bug as it shows you in detail all of the features mentioned above.

You can see how the segments on its body expand and become darker in color as it fills itself up with blood.

This is what a bed bug looks like after feeding.

Close up photo of adult bed bug from side view feeding on human
Credit: Public Health Image Library publicdomainfiles.com

5. A closer image of number 1 above. Although this photo is a bit blurry (it’s hard to take photos when you’ve got all of your pest control gear on).

Again, you can see the segments on the abdomen as it crawls across the mattress.

Close up picture of bed bug adult on mattress

6. This frontal close up image of the bed bug shows it is feeding. Notice its body is similar to the shape of an apple seed. 

You can see the wing pads which don’t actually develop into wings, so thankfully, bed bugs cannot fly.

Close up pic of bed bug mouthpart piercing human for blood meal
CDC/ Harvard University, Publicdomainfiles.com

7. I took this close up photo when treating a heavily infested mattress and box spring . 

The adults cluster together in their hiding spots. 

You can also see what bed bug eggs look like which are the pearly-white, almost translucent oblong shapes in the photo. These have hatched as there is an opening at one end of them. 

harborage site adult bed bugs and eggs

8. The next photo is an extremely detailed one of the head and thorax. 

Obviously, you won’t be able to see this level of detail with the naked eye, but I hope it gives you a good idea of their body shape.

Close up of adult bed bug head, thorax and wing pads
Credit: CDC/ CDC-DPDx; Blaine Mathison. Publicdomainfiles.com

 

9. Another good close up photo of this dreaded pest using its mouthparts to pierce the skin and take in a blood meal. 

Notice how the body has become longer as it feeds.


10. This is a great (but rather scary looking) image that was created using a digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM).

From this view, you can see the mouthparts of the bed bug which it uses to suck up your blood.

Image of bed bug under SEM
Credit: Janice Harney Carr, CDC [Public domain]

11. This picture is taken from a slide that shows bed bug’s body structure.

Adult bed bug microscopic slide image
Image credit: Adam Cuerden https://commons.wikimedia.org

12. Can you tell the difference between male and female bed bugs? This picture shows a male (left) and a female (right) as well as bed bug eggs.

The male’s body is more pointed as this is where the sex organ is, and the female’s body is more of an oval shape and is wider than the male’s.

picture of male bed bug and female bed bug and two semi-translucent eggs
Image credit: T Myers/NPMA

 

13. This photo (magnified picture at the top), although not very clear, shows both a male and female bed bug, as well as bed bug eggs.

You can see the fecal matter, which is digested blood.

bed bug male and female with eggs and fecal matter
Credit: Flickr.com/CC

Actual Size Of Bed Bugs Pictures

How Big Is A Bed Bug?

14. An adult bed bug is about 5-7mm long. This up-close photo shows its size in millimeters.

This is an adult and as you can tell they are very small so they are excellent at hiding in the smallest of cracks and crevices in your bedroom, hotel room, workplaces, and anywhere people generally are.

Image of actual size of bed bug against measurement
Credit: CDC Public Health Image Library publicdomainfiles.com

15. This image indicates the size of a bed bug by the scale at the bottom of the picture. Again this is an adult and you can clearly see the segmented parts of the body.

Actual size bed bug compared to 1 mm measurement
Credit: Pest and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org

16. This is a picture of a nymph, or bed bug baby after feeding.

Baby bed bugs can be hard to see as they are semi-translucent and as the measurement scale on the image shows, they are tiny.

This baby bed bug has had a blood meal which is the dark area in the abdomen.

Image showing size of baby bed bug after a blood meal against a 1 mm scale measurement
Credit: CDC Blaine Mathison Publicdomainfiles.com

 

17. The next picture shows the size of bed bugs in comparison to the coin.

The adult bed bug on the left has an elongated body meaning it has recently fed. If you think you’ve got bed bugs, then just remember this image to see how small they are when searching for them.

Picture of three different sized bed bugs on a dime for actual size comparison
Image credit: Patrick Porter, Texas Cooperative Extension, Bugwood.org

 

18. What do bed bugs look like on a mattress?  If you look closely at the picture below you’ll see an adult crawling where the seam of the label joins the mattress. 

Bed bugs can be found anywhere on or near the bed, and this shows just how carefully you need to inspect everything as they are so small and can easily be missed.

image adult bed bug under label
image adult bed bug under label

19. The image below is one I took after treating a house for an infestation.

To show the actual size of a bed bug, I placed it alongside a ruler and if you look close enough, you’ll be able to see it had fed shortly before it died.

bed bug placed alongside ruler for actual size measurement

20. How small are bed bugs? Small but you can see them with the naked eye. 

I took this photo of a baby bed bug, probably 4th/5th instar, that I found during an after treatment inspection.

Image of bed bug on fingernail showing how small bed bugs are

21. The next photo is a close up of a dead bed bug which was placed on the pen tip for size comparison, again to show what size they are.

A picture of a bed bug close up sitting on a pen tip

22. I took the photo below to show the size comparison of a bed bug (middle), apple seed (left), and flaxseed (right). 

This bed bug was not quite an adult, so an adult would have been slightly larger, but it still gives a good indication of their size and similarity.

There is also a close-up version of this picture at number 3 above.

picture of bed bug size compared to apple pip and flax seed

23. Another close up image I took of a bed bug at the end of a Q-Tip (or cotton bud if you’re in the UK).

Hopefully, these pictures are giving you a good idea of what they look like and how easily they can hide away in the seams of your mattress.

Bed bug on Q-tip for size comparison

24. And another for size comparison with the bed bug next to the Q-tip.

This bed bug had been dead a few weeks as you can tell by its dried out appearance.

Dried up dead bed bug above q-tip to show actual size

Images Of Bed Bugs Feeding

The following are pictures of bed bugs feeding on people. 

As these pests are nocturnal, you often won’t know you have bed bugs straight away because not everyone reacts to the bites, and if they do, they usually think it’s a bite from a different insect.  

Adult bed bugs and nymphs will feed about once a week, and they need regular access to a blood meal so they can grow and reproduce.  

Although they feed on your blood, and the blood of animals, thankfully they do not transmit diseases!

25. The image below shows an adult getting its blood meal from a person.

Credit: CDC/ Donated by the WHO, Geneva, Switzerland publicdomainfiles.com.
Credit: CDC/ Donated by the WHO, Geneva, Switzerland publicdomainfiles.com.

26. This picture of a bed bug shows the pest crawling on a person’s hand and feeding.

If you woke up and discovered a welt on your hand, would your first thought be that it’s a bed bug bite?

Bed bug crawling on persons hand to feed
Image credit: Flickr.com/ BPCA

27. This is a great bed bug poop photo! Not only is it defecating but it’s also feeding on a person at the same time.

The fecal matter is actually blood taken from a person which the bed bug has digested.  

Notice how dark the dropping is.  We’ll take a look at how you can spot this on your mattress in the photos further along.   

bed bug taking a blood meal and pooping at the same time on a person
Flickr.com https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BPCA

28. You can see from the next picture exactly what bed bugs look like after feeding when the abdomen becomes longer and fuller as it fills with blood.

Side view of bed bug feeding body engorged and elongated with blood meal
CDC/Harvard University, Dr. G Alperts, Dr. H Harlan, R Pollack publicdomainfiles.com

Baby Bed Bug Pictures

What Do Baby Bed Bugs Look Like?

Newborn baby bed bugs (or nymphs or larvae as they are also called) are about 1mm (1/16”) in size and look almost transparent as they are so pale.  

They go looking for a blood meal after they hatch, and when fed their abdomen becomes red making them easier to spot.  

Nymphs will molt five times before they mature, as long as they have access to blood. 

As they molt and become bigger (a 5th stage baby bed bug will grow to about 4.5mm), they look like the adult bed bugs only smaller and become brownish-red in color.

Baby bed bugs can reach adulthood in about 21 days if temperatures are between 70-80ºF (21-27ºC), but the average time is usually about five weeks. 

Once they become adults, they can reproduce and add to the infestation.

29. Apologies for the blurry image, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to get into spaces and get good photos. 

This close up photo of an infestation shows baby bed bugs (nymphs) in different life stages as their cast exoskeletons are visible.  This means they have been able to grow to the next molting stage as they have had access to blood.  

You can also see two adult bed bugs have fed as their abdomens are a darker color.

photo of cluster of nymphs exoskeletons and bed bug eggs

30. If this baby bed bug (nymph) wasn’t filled with blood, it would be hard to see as it’s almost see-through.

Notice the prominent eyes at the side of the head.

Picture of Bed bug nymph feeding on human and abdomen filling with blood
Image credit: CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack. Photo Credit: Piotr Naskrecki – http://phil.cdc.gov/phil

31. In this photo you can again see that the immature bed bug has recently fed because of the dark area in the abdomen.

As it has had access to blood, it has been able to molt to the next growth stage (called instars) and leave behind its exoskeleton, which is at the top right of the photo. 

Image of bed bug with blood meal in abdomen and shedded exoskeleton nearby.
Image credit: Verslinykas under Wikipedia: GNU Free Documentation License

32. This magnified image of baby bed bugs below shows a cluster of hatched bed bug eggs, tiny nymphs, and casings.

An adult female bed bug lays about  5 eggs a day and hundreds throughout her lifetime.  She also mates with her offspring, so the infestation will just grow and grow unless treated. 

The eggs are extremely small like a speck of dust (1mm) and are a translucent white color so you can imagine how hard they are to see with the naked eye.

The female uses a clear and sticky substance to attach the eggs to cracks and other surfaces like wood. 

Close up image of cluster of bed bug eggs and nymphs
Image: Mohammed El Damir, Bugwood.org

33. Next, you can see bed bugs in various life stages from nymph to adult.  You can also see the exoskeletons left behind after they molt.  

Notice how the exoskeleton looks almost exactly the same as the nymph due to the color.

Close up image of adult bed bugs nymphs at different lifestages
Image credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

34. The photo below is one that I took to show a close up of a baby bed bug on a mattress label.

This nymph has recently fed as you can see the undigested blood in the abdomen of its nearly translucent body.

A nymph of this size and hiding near the seam would be difficult to see unless you knew where to look. You have to look very closely as they have so many hiding places.

A pest control professional will know exactly where to look.

close up image of nearly see through nymph behind mattress label

35. This is another photo I took which shows baby bed bugs clustered underneath a box spring.

Notice the amount of fecal matter everywhere, they’ve obviously had a few good blood meals.

image baby bed bug and blood spots

36. Another image showing baby bed bugs at various days old, along with an adult and lots of eggs and feces on a mattress.

bed bug adult nymphs eggs image

Images Of Bed Bug Mattress Infestations

The bed is the main place you’ll find evidence of bed bugs as they like to hide in the mattress seams, box spring, bed frame, and all other areas close by and wait for their blood meal.  

Below are several infestation pictures of bed bugs on mattresses and the signs they leave behind that you can look for.  

What Does Bed Bug Poop Look Like?

Bed bug poop is digested blood and as it dries and soaks into fabric, it looks like rusty brown/black streaks or dots, similar to an ink stain. 

The first place to look for bed bug droppings is in the corners and seams of your mattress as they hide close to a host.    

You might also find bed bug feces in clusters on your pillowcases, duvet, sheets, behind switch plates, on curtains, the couch, and anywhere else they hide

37. Bed bugs are hiding under the mattress piping in this picture.

The mattress is the first place to inspect if you think you have bed bugs.

The dark spots are fecal matter.

A picture of a bed bug in mattress seam
Credit: Flickr.com/photos/lou bugs pix CC Licenses/by-nd/2.0/

38. The image below shows a bed bug infestation that has been left to grow for some time. The tell-tale signs are the dark blood spots on the mattress.

Bed bug infestation in mattress
Image credit: Flickr.com Lou bugs pixCC Licenses/by-nd/2.0/

39. This is a photo I took while treating a bad infestation. This mattress was very heavily infested which is evident by the number of blood spots and smears on it.

If your mattress has got to this stage, don’t try and treat it yourself as it will be impossible to get rid of the infestation.  Only a pest control company will be able to eradicate it at this point. 

If the infestation is really bad then the pest control technician will most likely recommend you get rid of your mattress. 

But before you do, check out these guidelines so you know how to dispose of the mattress and box spring properly.

Heavily infested bed bugs on mattress seams with lots of poop

40. This is an up-close version of the photo I took above. You can see the smeared blood spots that look like dots from a marker pen.

bed-bugs-on-mattress with smeared blood

41. The picture below shows a heavily infested bed frame and how bed bugs can hide anywhere in it, like the lining under the box spring and in the corners of the frame.

Heavily infested bed frame with bed bugs found between the wooden bed frame and material
Image Credit: Flickr.com/BPCA CC Licenses/by/2.0/

42. This is another picture of a bed bug infestation I took which is of a heavily infested box spring. 

Notice how the feces looks like smeared ink.

bed bug infestation box spring

43. The picture below was taken by a colleague (apologies for the blurred photo) showing bed bugs and smeared blood spots on the mattress piping.

Did you know that one of the most common ways you pick up these little hitch-hikers in the first place is when you travel?

So, it’s always a good idea when staying in a hotel or moving to college, to look at the mattress piping and seams as soon as you arrive for any signs of bed bug activity.

bed bugs along mattress piping

44. Below is another photo I took of an adult bed bug crawling on a box spring while treating the bedroom.

Picture of adult bed bug crawling along box spring

45. Live bed bugs and fecal matter are evident on the box spring. If you look closely, you can see they are also behind the material/lining.

Picture of box spring infested with bed bugs

46. This is a close up of the above photo and a clearer view of the live bed bugs and the dark blood spots on and behind the box spring’s fabric.

Pic of bed bug adults on box spring and hiding behind material

47. An even closer view of the infested box spring.

Look at how they are hiding behind the lining. This is just one of the areas that should always be checked when looking for bed bugs.

image close up of bed bugs infestation with fecal stains on box spring

48. Again, the same box spring but showing the internal area of the frame where they are hiding.

Bed bug fecal matter can be seen on the, which are the black dots.

Bed bugs like to lay their eggs on rough surfaces like wood.

bed bug poop smears on box spring wooden frame

Images Of Other Bed Bug Infestation Areas

49. Bed bug infestations aren’t just found on the bed as this picture shows a heavily infested slipper.

If you suspect you have bed bugs, then even the unlikeliest of places have to be checked.

photo of bed bug infested slipper with bed bugs mainly on the sole
Flickr.com/pixlouento.pix under CC license

50. Below is a cluster of bed bugs that have set up their harborage area in the folds underneath a bed.

 Inspecting the folds and creases of fabric furniture is also important when looking for these pests. 

bed bug infestation box spring creases image

51. I found the bed bugs in the image below in the rivets of a bed frame. You probably wouldn’t think to look here, so knowing where to inspect is really important!

bed bugs hiding in rivet bed frame lots of fecal stains

52. A heavily infested couch where bed bugs are often found hiding between cushions, in seams, and folds.

Photo of heavy bed bug infestation on couch
Image credit: Mohammed El Damir, Bugwood.org

53. In the picture below, you can see the bed bug eggs have been laid on a wooden surface, this gives you some idea of what they look like and what to look for when inspecting your furniture. 

Image of tiny white bed bug eggs on wooden surface
Image credit: Mohammed El Damir, Bugwood.org

54. The next image highlights the unusual places you probably wouldn’t think to look in for bed bugs.

It also shows just how small they are as there are several adults and bed bug eggs in this screw head.

Multiple bed bugs and eggs in screw head
Image credit: Flickr.com Lou bugs pix

55. I’m often asked if bed bugs crawl on walls and ceilings, and my photo shows that yes, they do!

I took the picture below to show other areas of the room where bed bugs can be found.

This is the area where the wall adjoins the ceiling. This was an infestation that had been left untreated and had grown so the usual hiding places had become a bit overcrowded, hence the bed bug poop on the ceiling.

Photo of Infestation of bed bugs between the wall and ceiling

56. Bed bugs can also be found hiding behind a strip of wallpaper.

image bed bugs behind wallpaper

57. A close up of bed bug eggs hidden away in cardboard.

Image of bed bug eggs close up hidden on cardboard
Image credit: Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

 

Pictures Of Bed Bug Bites

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Bed bug bites are not easy to diagnose as they look very similar to bites from other insects.

Bites from bed bugs can occur in a row or cluster, or singularly, on any area of your body uncovered when in bed, so the arms, face, shoulders, and back are common areas for bites. 

The bite itself is not actually felt as an anesthetic and anticoagulant is injected into your skin. It’s only later if the skin reacts and the bite develops into a welt and itches, that you realize you’ve been bitten.

Hopefully, the following images give you some idea of what they look like. 

But remember, if you don’t find any other evidence of bed bugs, then it probably isn’t bed bugs that are biting you.

58. This shows a bad case of bed bug bites on the face. 

In reality, you wouldn’t really be able to tell if this was a bed bug or mosquito bite, so it’s always advisable to look for other evidence of bed bug activity.

Bed bugs will bite mainly exposed areas of the body and not everyone has a reaction.

Bed bug images bites on the jawline of the face
Image credit: Andybrookestar at English Wikipedia. [Public domain]

59. Large welts develop on this person’s back after being bitten by bed bugs.

Large red welts from bed bug bites on human back
picture of bed bug bites on back James Heilman, MD / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

60. This image shows a reaction to bed bug bites on the arm. This is a common area to be bitten as the arms are often uncovered in bed.

Image of bed bug bites on person's arm
Image: By James Heilman, MD – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

61. The next picture shows how a person can react to the bites. Bed bugs crawl down the hair to get to the skin to feed.

This image was taken several hours after being bitten and the small red marks have developed during that time.

The appearance of bites will differ from person to person due to their reaction, if any.

Small red marks bed bugs bite reaction
Image credit: Flickr.com louento.pix CC Licenses/by-nd/2.0/

62. The picture below was taken in a controlled environment where bed bugs were allowed to feed on the person through a screen.

This shows the inflammation developing 3 hours after the bed bugs fed.

Image of inflammation effect three hours after bed bugs fed on human
Image: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

63. This image is the same as the one above but is the reaction and inflammation caused by the bites two days after feeding.

Some people experience reactions other than just itchiness and inflammation, such as blisters, hives, and a painful burning sensation.

Unfortunately, the effects on your mental health caused by having bed bugs can be longer-lasting than the physical symptoms.

Image of bed bug inflammation on skin mark two days after feeding
Image: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Dead Bed Bug Pictures

What Do Dead Dried Up Bed Bugs Look Like?

64. This is a close up picture I took of a dead bed bug after treatment (apologies for it being out of focus).

Its features, such as the eyes and antennae are still very prominent despite it now looking flat, dull in color, and dried out with a white flaky appearance.

Magnified image of a dried dead bed bug after treatment

65. This is what a bed bug looks like upside down.

This close up is a bit blurry but you can see the dark color in the abdomen so it managed to get a blood meal before dying.

Unfortunately, you can only see 5 of its legs as I took this picture a couple of weeks after treatment, so it had dried out and one of its legs had broken off.

Photo of bed bug on its back showing underneath of body
Ventral view of bed bug

I hope the images above help you identify whether you have bed bugs or some other pest, as well as where some of their hiding places are.

If you think you might have these pests in your home and the infestation is in the early stages, then there are steps you can take to get rid of them and do it yourself

But, if you don’t fancy the DIY method, or even if you’re still unsure it is a bed bug you’ve found, then contact a bed bug exterminator, but do your research and make sure you get a company that has experience in treating bed bug infestations.

You might also find the following useful:

I’ve been in the pest control industry helping people get rid of their unwanted pests for over 20 years, both in the UK and Canada.

As a licensed pest management professional, I’ve seen and treated just about every common household pest, insect, or rodent, you can think of. I’ve seen the damage caused when an infestation has been left too long and has become hard to get rid of.

For this reason, peststopsolutions.com was created. By having honest advice and the right guidance to hand, along with scientific evidence to back up claims, you are given information on the best eradication methods, as well as how to get rid of most pests yourself.