What Do Bed Bugs Look Like? Bed Bug Identifier

If you’ve spotted some stains on your bed or seen some bite marks on your skin, it’s natural to wonder if you have bed bugs. Although you might spot some pests around, it may be challenging to tell if you’re actually dealing with bugs or you have another pest problem.

Read on to learn more about bed bug identification.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs belong to the order Hemiptera and are related to aphids, stink bugs, and cicadas. While other insects will suck on sap or plant juices, bed bugs only consume blood. These parasites can’t survive without feeding on humans or pets. They follow the human scent and settle to feed while you feed.

You’ll spot them on walls, beds, furniture, carpets, and electronics. A study by the Scientific Journal found that a female bug could produce up to six eggs a day, something that could lead to an infestation.

How Many Bed Bug Species are There?

There are two main species of bed bugs, mainly the common bed bugs and tropical bed bugs. Cimex Lectularius is the most common species found in the U.S. these bed bugs have a dark brown color, are slightly hairy, and are the size of an apple seed. These bugs look enclosed and shaded spaces for safety. They suck blood like mosquitoes.

Tropical bed bugs or Cimex Hemipterus are similar to common bed bugs; the only difference is that they love the warm tropical habitats. Also, they share the same behavior, look the same, and their infestations are similar to the regular bed bugs.

Bed Bug Life Cycle

A bed bug’s life cycle takes around 40 days. However, this cycle may take longer with limited food sources. The lifecycle consists of three stages, mainly the egg, nymph, and adult.

Bed Bug Eggs

The bug eggs mark the first stage of their lifecycle. Eggs are laid in clusters or singly, and will be around tight cracks and crevices. The female bug can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime with a constant supply of blood.

These eggs appear milky white and have an oval shape. You’ll notice an eyespot on eggs that are over five days old.
Bed bug eggs are stuck to walls and surfaces around the house with a glue-like substance that bugs produce. These parasites like to lay their eggs in hidden spots. You may need a flashlight and magnifying glass to find the eggs.


Nymphs or baby bed bugs are yellow. These young ones go through five stages as they transition into adulthood. During this period, they molt and shed their exoskeleton to grow. They are the size of a pin and can be said to have the shape and size of an apple seed.

Bed bug nymphs need to feed once before they molt and process to the next stage. Each instar lasts for about four to eight days before growing into the adult stage.

They sometimes resemble adult bed bugs, but nymphs have thin cuticles. You may spot a dark area on their abdomen due to their light coloring. Nevertheless, this is only possible to see if the nymph has eaten. Identifying unfed larvae can be difficult and are almost invisible to the human eye.

Nymphs develop into adults after five weeks. In their adulthood, they can begin to reproduce. It’s critical to note that feeding must take place, as reproduction can’t be done on an empty stomach.

Adult Bed Bugs

Adult bed bugs have a brown color, but this turns to red after feeding. They have an oval shape with a flattened body. Although bed bugs are wingless, they have wing pads that do not develop into functional wings.

Fully-grown bugs measure about five millimeters and are slow. Bed bugs have a set of antennae with four parts.

Their body is also divided into three segments. It’s easy to mistake bed bugs for other insects like the carpet beetle. They both have an oval shape. However, adult bugs do not have colored dots or patterns on their skin. What’s more, bugs have recognizable horizontal indentations that sets them apart.

Are Bed Bugs Identifiable In Stages of Development?

Bed Bugs are identifiable in all stages of their development. However, with them being tiny and evasive, it can be challenging to detect and identify them. It’s easier to see signs of the pests than the bugs. Look out for bed bugs signs like eggshells, bloodstained spots, live bed bugs, and fecal spots as this indicate that you may be dealing with an infestation.

Identifying Features of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have three main parts:

The Head: a bug’s head is tiny and has a small eye on each side. You’ll notice a long proboscis for sucking blood. It’s tucked underneath when the parasite isn’t using it. They also have two small antennae that are as long as their first legs.

Thorax: Another bed bug identifier is the midsection or thorax, which is small.

Abdomen: A bug’s abdomen is four times the size of the thorax. It’s also wide. You’ll notice a round shape when looking at a bed bug from above. When fed, the abdomen looks elongated and plump, but when hungry, it appears flat.

Bed bugs have small wing casings near their thorax. They also have six legs, with the first pair extending from the thorax, and the second and third pairs coming out from the abdomen. Each leg has a bend and a hook to grip on human skin.

Differentiating Between Male and Female Bed Bugs

The difference between a male and female bed bug lies in the abdomen. Males have a smaller abdomen and appear elongated even after consuming blood. However, female bed bugs have a rounder abdomen.

Also, female bugs have a smooth tip at the abdomen, while males have a sharp tip.

How to Identify Shed Bed Bug Skin

Bed bug identification also entails recognizing their shed skin. When a bug sheds skin, it comes off in an instant. You’ll notice that the shell looks like the bugs, as it has the head and legs. The only difference is that the shed skin is pale in color and empty.

How to Identify Bed Bug Egg Casings

Egg casings are what’s left by baby bed bugs as they transition from bed bug eggs. They appear similar to bed bug eggs. Nonetheless, they are clear and flat. It’s difficult to spot the egg casings than the eggs, although you can find them in similar places.

How to Identify Bed Bug Feces

Bed bugs solely consume blood, but they do not excrete blood-colored feces. Their droppings are dark and black. You’ll notice a flat black dot if they pass on your mattress or clothing. These spots can also occur in the pipes along the mattress edges, around curtains, or near the sides of the baseboard and wall.

You may also identify fecal spots along the cracks and crevices in the box spring, bed frame, or headboard.

How to Identify Blood Spots

Blood spot is another sign of a bed bug infestation. Those spots may occur when bed bugs bite. The wound may bleed for a while after the bug unlatches itself. Sometimes crushing a bug in your sleep may cause undigested blood to leak.

These spots are on your bedsheets, pajamas, or comforter. Blood spots are light in color and have an uneven shape.

Bed Bug Bite

Apart from identifying the eggs, bugs, and spots, you can tell of infestation through the bite marks. Bed bugs are active at night, and they know that they are unlikely to be spotted in the dark. When a bug bites you, it may be difficult to notice the marks right away, especially if you don’t have sensitive skin.

It may take some time for the skin to develop a reaction, which could be in the form of itchiness. The bite wounds are invisible, but if you’re allergic to their saliva, you may experience other symptoms. These marks appear red, swollen, roundish, and can be itchy.

The bites may appear in lines, but at times you may notice a zigzag pattern if more than one bug fed on your skin at night. These bites are common on the arms, neck, ankles, and feet. Bed bugs can crawl in your pajamas to bite the skin underneath.

Some people may not experience the above symptoms, as their skin does not react.

What Pests are Confused for Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs can be a nuisance, and you may sometimes confuse them for similar-looking bugs that cause the same reaction. Some pests that can be mistaken for bed bugs include:

Swallow bugs and bat bugs

These two insects are identical to bed bugs. They also cause similar types of bites. Swallow bugs love to consume cliff swallows and live in bird nests. Swallow bugs may get inside when swallows migrate.

Bat bugs consume a meal of bat blood. They love temperate regions and will move into homes when bats become rare.

Carpet Beetles

These beetles are available in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Carpet beetles have six legs and short antennae-like bed bugs. However, they feed on fabrics, and you’ll find them on soft furnishings and carpets.

The only way to tell their difference is by their body. Carpet beetles are less round and are longer than bed bugs. You’ll also notice shiny wing casings on their body, not to mention they do not have segments. Carpet beetles are black and white, although you may find some that are pale brown.

Spider Beetles

Spider beetles are insects that have six legs. The smooth spider beetle has an oval shape and a red-brown color. However, they have long antennae that look like another pair of legs. Another difference is that spider beetles do not feed on humans but plant matter.

What’s more, they do not have segmented bodies like bed bugs. Their yellowish-tan color and long legs also tell them apart from bed bugs.


Booklice are not actual lice and are not parasites. However, like bed bugs, they have six legs and segmented bodies. Their difference lies in what they feed.

These pests feed on starches, mold, and fungus. Also, they have a cream color, larger thoraxes, and elongated heads than bed bugs. You’ll notice that their abdomen are narrow, and not as big as that of the bed bugs.


It’s easy to mistake cockroach nymphs for bed bugs. Baby cockroaches are reddish-brown and have segmented bodies. Nonetheless, cockroach nymphs have long antennae, and their bodies are narrow than that of bed bugs. Moreover, cockroaches feed on plants, meats, and starches.


Fleabites are often mistaken for bed bug bites as they both produce red, swollen marks that sting and itch. However, fleas are smaller and do not have antennae. They also jump something bed bugs do not do. Another point to note is that fleas will likely be on pests, and not around or near humans.


Although scabies mites are tiny to see with the naked eye, their bites have similar symptoms to bed bugs. The parasites live and feed on human skin, but bed bugs feed on human blood. You may suffer from a scabies rash that looks like tiny, itchy bumps. The doctor can tell whether you have a scabies rash.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

The only sure way to get rid of a bed bug infestation is to contact a professional pest control company. They will inspect and assess the extent of the damage and recommend the best treatment method to solve this problem.


Some common questions on how to identify bed bugs include:

What do Bed Bugs Look Like to the Human Eye?

Bed bugs are visible to the human eye, and you can identify them as eggs, nymphs, and adults. They may appear like small, rounded pests with long antennae and six legs.

What do Bed Bugs Look like after You Spray Them?

Bed bugs appear like dead insects after you spray them. You may need to clean up.

What is the main cause of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are brought into your home from outside. They simply crawl onto your pets, kids, you or anything that is put on the ground. Once inside, they drop off and make themselves at home. You just need to contact PestGuide to hire an exterminator and get rid of them.

What is the first sign of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are minute, so you cannot see them. Tiny dark spots on your mattress or bedding is usually the first sign of an infestation. You might also have bites that occur in a line. At the first sign of trouble, it is best to contact PestGuide.

How long does it take to notice bed bugs?

A bed bug takes about 7 weeks to go from egg to adulthood. But there are not likely to be enough of them for you to spot any of the warning signs until several breeding cycles have occurred. As soon as you spot them you need to contact us.

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