Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like waking up the next morning with bed bug bites. Not only can bed bug bites be painful, but these parasitic pests are pretty difficult to get rid of once they’ve invaded a property. They have a knack for hiding in tough to reach spots and are less than an inch wide.
Mr. Little has gathered information and pictures from his classroom to help you identify what bed bugs look like so you can take easily identify these pests.
Bed Bug Appearance
Bed bugs have a broadly oval and flat shape. They are brown prior to eating and reddish brown after eating. Adult bed bugs are about 4-5 mm long. They have six legs and two antennae. Bed bugs emit an “obnoxiously sweet” odor from their scent glands. Nymphs look similar to adult bed bugs but are smaller and paler in color.
Adult Bed Bug
Bed bugs are wingless, oval shaped and about a quarter-inch wide. Their flat bodies allow them to hide in beds, baseboards, sofas and even wallpaper, very easily, making it hard to get rid of them.
Bed Bug Lifecycle
Female bed bugs lay 1-5 eggs per day. These long white eggs are about 1mm long and are nested in cracks or rough surfaces. A female bed bug will lay about 541 eggs in her lifetime. The developmental time between eggs and adults takes about 21 days if they’re developing at 86 °F and up to 120 days if they’re developing at 65 °F. With normal feeding and reproductive cycles, an individual bed bug can live up to 316 days.
Bed Bug Nymphs
Nymphs go through five stages of development, known as instars, prior to becoming an adult bed bug. In its first stage, the egg looks like a grain of rice and typically is tucked in the creases of bed sheets or on mattress tags. Once a nymph has reached its first instar, it will take a bed bug its first blood meal to grow into a second instar nymph, and so on until the bed bug grows to a fifth instar nymph. After this stage, it becomes an adult bed bug.
Without a blood meal, nymphs can survive an average 51 days. If poorly fed, they will remain nymphs for longer, developing at 35-48 days to average adult size. They are semi-translucent and then become darkish brown after feeding.
Bed Bug Feeding
Bed bugs prefer human blood and feed off any bare skin that is exposed while sleeping. The initial bite of a bed bug is painless, but many people develop an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bug as it feeds, leaving a red bump on the skin. Some people never develop a reaction while others suffer severe bumps and rashes.
Male vs Female Bed Bugs
Males have a semicircular penis at the end of their abdomen that they pierce into the female’s abdomen. Males deposit sperm into the female which then migrates to her ovaries and fertilizes her eggs. When threatened, male bed bugs will release a hormone called, “the bed bug alarm pheromone.” They also release it to ward off other males approaching their spouse.
Pests Mistaken For Bed Bugs
Still trying to figure out what’s hiding in your mattress? Well, there are quite a few other bugs that get mistaken for bed bugs. This causes increased anxiety and stress for home and business owners. In order to properly eradicate pests, you have to correctly identify the pest you are trying to remove.
Bat bugs: The most noticeable difference between bat bugs and bed bugs are the hairs just below the neck. Bat bugs have longer hairs and are typically found in attics. They typically feed off bat blood but if bats leave, bat bugs will feed off humans as a last resort.
Newly hatched cockroach: But as they grow, it becomes much easier to differentiate a bed bug from a cockroach. One commonality, they’re both active at night.
Wood/dog ticks: Their appearance is similar to bed bugs but wood/dog ticks are found outdoors, while the latter is found indoors.
Carpet beetle: These beetles are the same shape as bed bugs but are more round than bed bugs.
Spider beetle: They are active at night but are mostly found eating off plant-based food material.
Hopefully our identification guide will help you to spot these blood-sucking pests before it’s too late. If you happen to notice bed bugs getting cozy in your home, our professional pest control service uses a holistic approach to removing and preventing bed bugs from returning.