Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Control Technician
WHAT DO BED BUGS LOOK LIKE?
If you’re visiting this page then the chances are you are concerned you might have found bed bugs in your home. Correctly Identifying what you think are bed bugs is vital for treatment purposes as they can be confused with other similar looking bugs.
We’ve put together the very best and most comprehensive set of images you’ll find anywhere on the internet, ranging from bed bug eggs, nymphs, exoskeletons, and adults. You’ll also see what an infestation looks like and the unlikely places you’ll find them.
The bed bug images and pictures below will give you a clearer idea of what they look like, and help you to identify them.
From these images, you’ll see that adult bed bugs are small, long, oval insects similar in shape and size of an apple seed, with six legs and two antennae. If they are unfed they’re a light brown color and flat but once they feed they become a darker brown/reddish color with an engorged and elongated body.
WHAT DOES A BED BUG LOOK LIKE? IDENTIFYING FEATURES
Head – the bed bug has a short and broad head with distinct eyes that are clearly seen on each side of the head. They have a long proboscis, which is like a beak, that they use similar to how we use a drinking straw, except that it pierces the skin enabling blood to be sucked up for a meal. When not feeding, the proboscis will be tucked back underneath the body. Bed bugs also have two antennae, each having four segments that work together as sensors to locate their blood meal.
Thorax – the thorax is attached to the head and abdomen and enables the body to move. It’s not always easy to distinguish the thorax from the body. The thorax is in three segments and the segment nearest the head is flatter and appears to partly surround the head. The legs and wing pads are also attached to the thorax.
Abdomen – the bed bug has 11 segments on its abdomen which allow the body to expand whilst feeding. After feeding the body will look 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 than the male and has a rounded abdominal tip, whereas the male has a more pointed abdominal tip.
The adult grows to around 5-7mm (3/16″) in length but elongates after a blood meal.
Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, as they are called are semi-translucent and can easily be missed when looking for a potential infestation. However, when they feed their abdomen fills with blood and becomes red in color, making them easier to spot. As they mature they become darker in color. Look at the photos below for an idea of what they look like and what to look for.
Below are 65 of the best and most comprehensive bed bug images both from the internet and from pictures I’ve taken myself while treating infestations.
BED BUG PICTURES CLOSE UP
1. This image is one that I took when treating a bed bug infestation. In this close up you can see the segments on the abdomen and you can also clearly see its six legs as it’s crawling on the bed. In front of the bed bug is a speck of fecal matter and just behind it is an egg. This image is not the actual size of a bed bug, but helps you to identify it if you think you have them.
2. This picture is a good example of a bed bug close up. You can see it’s feeding on a person by piercing the skin and sucking up its blood meal through its elongated mouthparts. One particular identifying feature of the bed bug is the eyes, which are situated to the side of the head.
3. I took the magnified picture below to show what bed bugs look like close up and also how they compare in size to an apple pip (left) and a flax seed (right).
4. Here is another bed bug image from a side view and is feeding on a human. You can see how its body has become engorged and darker in color as it takes in blood. This is what a bed bug looks like after feeding.
5. A closer image of number 1 above. Although this picture is a bit blurry, you are still able to see the bed bug’s identifying features.
6. This frontal view image of the bed bug close up shows it is biting to feed. Notice its body is similar to the shape of an apple seed. In this image, you can clearly see the wing pads which don’t actually develop into wings, so bed bugs cannot fly.
7. A close up photo I took of an infestation where the adults are clustered together. You can see the numerous pearly-white, almost translucent bed bug eggs. The mattress and box spring were heavily infested so it allowed me to capture the detailed body of the bed bug.
8. This is an extremely detailed picture of the head and thorax. Obviously you won’t be able to see this level of detail with the naked eye, but it gives you a good idea of what they look like up close.
9. Another close up photo of the dreaded bed bug using its mouthparts to pierce the skin and feed. 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 its blood meal.
11. This picture is taken from a slide that shows the insect’s body structure.
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 larger than the male.
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 from the female, which is digested blood.
ACTUAL SIZE OF BED BUGS PICTURES
14. How big is a bed bug? This photo of a bed bug close up shows its size in millimeters. This is an adult and as you can see they are very small so they are excellent at hiding in the smallest of spaces in areas where people are found, such as the bedroom, hotel room, workplaces, etc.
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.
16. This is a picture of a bed bug baby, or nymph as they are called. 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.
17. This 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.
18. If you look closely at the picture below you’ll see an adult bed bug crawling where the seam of the label joins the box spring. Bed bugs can be found anywhere near the bed, and this shows just how carefully you need to inspect everything as they are so small and can easily be missed.
19. The image below is one I took after treatment a house for bed bugs. This shows the bed bug’s actual size and you can also see it had fed before death.
20. How small are bed bugs? As you can see, bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye. This is a photo I took of a baby bed bug, probably 4th/5th instar, that I found a few weeks after treatment.
21. The picture below is a close up that helps you identify if you’ve found a bed bug. I placed it on the pen tip for size comparison to show just how small bed bugs are.
22. I took the photo below to show the size comparison of a bed bug (middle) and apple pip (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. There is also a close up version of this picture at number 3 above.
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). These pictures show just how small these pests are and how easily they can hide on the seams of your mattress.
24. And another for size comparison with the bed bug next to the Q-tip.
IMAGES OF BED BUGS FEEDING
25. The image below shows an adult getting its blood meal from a person.
26. Another picture of a bed bug crawling on a person’s hand and feeding. It pierces the skin with its elongated beak and injects an anesthetic so you can’t feel the bite, and also an anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clotting so it can feed easily.
27. This is a great bed bug poop photo! Not only is it defecating but it’s also feeding on a human at the same time. The fecal matter is digested blood taken from a person. This image also shows how the bed bug’s body has become engored as it feeds.
28. Another good image of a bed bug feeding and taking a blood meal from a person. You can see from this image exactly what bed bugs look like after feeding as the abdomen becomes longer as it fills with blood.
BABY BED BUG PICTURES
29. Apologies for the blurry image, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to get into spaces and get good photos. This close up image of an infestation shows baby bed bugs (nymphs) in different life stages as their exoskeletons are visible. You can also see two adult bed bugs that have had a blood meal as their abdomen is a darker color.
30. If this baby bed bug (nymph) wasn’t feeding and filled with blood, it would be hard to see it due to its level of transparency. Notice the prominent eyes at the side of the head.
31. This image of a baby bed bug shows it has fed by the dark color in the abdomen.
After each feed, the nymph will molt and leave behind its exoskeleton, which you can see in the top right of this photo. Immature bed bugs will molt five times, each time moving into the next stage of growth (called instars) before reaching adulthood.
32. This image of baby bed bugs below shows a cluster of bed bug eggs, nymphs, and casings that has been magnified many times.
A newly emerged female nymph will take a blood meal then mate and lay eggs around 3-6 days later. A female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs a day and hundreds throughout her lifetime.
The eggs are extremely small like a speck of dust (1mm) and are a translucent white color so they are hard 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.
33. The image below shows bed bugs in various life stages from nymph to adult. You can see there are bed bug exoskeletons which are the shells left behind after they molt.
Notice how they look almost exactly the same as the nymph due to their color.
34. The picture below is 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 this size and hiding near the seam would be difficult to spot unless you looked very closely. In situations where the infestation is growing, it is advisable to contact an exterminator.
35. A picture of baby bed bugs clustered underneath a box spring. Notice lots of fecal matter everywhere, so they’ve had a few good blood meals.
36. Another image showing baby bed bugs at various days old, along with an adult and lots of eggs and feces that have infested a mattress.
IMAGES OF BED BUG MATTRESS INFESTATIONS
The bed is the main place you’ll find bed bugs as they like to hide in the mattress, box spring, and all other areas close by and wait for their blood meal. As soon as you discover you have bed bugs, it’s really important you decide if you want to get rid of them yourself, or have an exterminator come in and treat the infestation.
37. Bed bugs are hiding under the mattress piping in this picture. When checking your mattress, this is one area where you are likely to find them. The dark spots are bed bug fecal matter, which is digested blood!
38. The image below shows a bed bug infestation that has been left for some time. The tell-tale signs are the dark blood spots on the mattress.
39. This is a photo I took while treating an infestation. This mattress was heavily infested which is evident by the number of blood spots and smears on it. Blood spots on a mattress are one of the early signs of bed bugs.
If your mattress has got to this stage, then the infestation needs treating by a pest control company. You might want to buy a new mattress, but check out these guidelines so you know how to dispose of the mattress and box spring properly.
40. This is an up-close version of the photo I took above. You can see the smeared blood spots from the fecal matter.
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 bed frame.
42. This is another photo I took of a bed bug infestation. This image shows a heavily infested box spring that can be seen by the level of bed bug feces.
43. The picture below was taken by a colleague of mine and it shows bed bugs and smeared blood spots along the piping of the mattress.
When staying in a hotel or moving to college, the piping of the mattress is one of the areas of the bed that you should check for bed bugs.
44. Below is a photo I took of an adult bed bug on a box spring while treating the bedroom.
45. A colleague’s photo, you can see live bed bugs and fecal matter on the box spring. If you look closely, you can see they are also behind the material/lining.
46. This is a close up of the above photo where you get a clearer view of the live bed bugs and the dark blood spots on and behind the box spring’s material.
47. An even closer view of the infested box spring. As mentioned above, look at how they can be seen behind the lining. These are just one of the areas that should always be checked when looking for bed bugs.
48. Again, the same box spring but showing the internal area where they are hiding. Bed bugs like to lay their eggs on rough surfaces like wood.
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 everywhere has to be checked.
50. Below is a cluster of bed bugs that have set up their harborage area in the folds underneath a bed.
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 look is really important!
52. A heavily infested couch where bed bugs are often found hiding between cushions, in seams and folds.
53. A picture of bed bug eggs that have been laid on a wooden surface.
54. The picture below shows 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 in this screw head.
55. I took the photo 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 for a while and had grown so the usual hiding places had become a bit overcrowded, hence the bed bug poop on the ceiling.
56. Another picture of bed bugs that I took. This time they were found behind a strip of wallpaper.
57. A close up of bed bug eggs hidden away in cardboard.
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 biting insects. Bites from bed bugs often occur in a row or cluster on a small area of your body that is usually not covered when in bed. The bite is not actually felt as an anesthetic and anticoagulant is injected into your skin. It’s only later when the skin reacts that you realize you’ve been bitten.
58. The following image shows bed bug bites on the face. Bed bugs will bite mainly exposed areas of the body and not everyone has a reaction.
59. The bed bug bites picture below shows large welts on a person’s back.
60. This image shows bed bug bites on the arm. This is a common area to be bitten as the arms are often outside the duvet when in bed.
61. This picture shows the effects of the bites. Bed bugs crawl down the hair to get to the skin to feed. This image was taken several hours after being bitten leaving small red marks. The appearance of bites will differ from person to person due to their reaction if any.
62. The picture below was taken in a controlled environment where bed bugs were allowed to feed on the person through a screen. This image shows inflammation developing 3 hours after feeding.
63. This image is the same as the one above but is showing the inflammation effect of 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.
DEAD BED BUG PICTURES
64. What do dead dried up bed bugs look like? This is a close up picture I took of a dead bed bug I found a couple of weeks after carrying out a heat treatment. Its features, such as the eyes and antennae are still very prominent despite it now being flat, dull in color, and dried out.
65. This is what a bed bug looks like upside down. This close up image of this dead pest 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.
Hopefully, these images have helped you get a better idea of what bed bugs look like and where some of their hiding places might be.
If you think you might have these pests in your home and the infestation is in the early stages, then there are options to get rid of them and do it yourself. Alternatively, instruct a bed bug exterminator, but do your research and make sure you hire a company that has experience in treating bed bug infestations.
Anthony O’Neill, Licensed Pest Control Technician
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 control technician I’ve seen and treated just about any 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. But what is more concerning to see is the effect and hardship caused to the homeowner, when this could have been avoided.
For this reason, peststopsolutions.com was created. I understand how stressful it is for you when you find a pest invading your home. 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.