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What do bed bugs look like?

Small, brown, oval-shaped, and about the size of an apple seed, bed bugs are often confused with insects such as fleasticks, and carpet beetles. People are so afraid of bed bugs that a misidentification can cause unnecessary panic and lead to home and business owners throwing out or destroying clothing and furniture.

If you think you have bed bugs, chances are there is good reason for it. Perhaps you have noticed a live insect in your bed, or are feeling itchier than normal. Before you jump to any conclusions, read on to find out what bed bugs look like. And if the bill fits, and you believe you have a bed bug infestation on your hands, contact your local Western Exterminator office for a professional bed bug inspection.


Bed bug size

Bed bugs are very small, which works to their advantage as it allows them to easily hide when they are between feedings. Their flat bodies allow them to wriggle into tiny cracks and folds of a mattress. As adults, they are between 4 - 5 mm in length. Nymphs (or immature bed bugs) are even smaller, making them nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.

Bed bug size

Bed bug shape

Bed bugs are small insects without wings. They are very flat and have round bodies divided into three segments. The first, at the top, is the head. Right behind that is a small segment known as the pronotum. The largest part of the bed bug's body is the abdomen, which is wide and round. Adult bed bugs have six legs and two antenna at the top of their head.

Bed bug shape

Bed bug color

Bed bug nymphs (immature) are usually white or tan in color. Fully grown adults are a rusty, reddish-brown. After a blood meal, bed bugs appear bloated and red, just like mosquitoes and ticks often do after they have fed.

Bed Bug Skin Biting

Bed bug life cycle

The bed bug life cycle includes bed bug eggs and five larvae, or nymph, stages. At each stage, the bed bug has one blood meal, which helps it to grow, shed its skin, and metamorphose into the next stage. After five molts, the bed bug is considered to have reached maturity. 

The amount of time that it takes a bed bug to progress through the life cycle will be dependent on temperature and availability of blood meals. It may take anywhere from 21 days at 86°F to 120 days at 65°F. The temperature threshold for bed bug eggs to hatch is 55-59°F.

Bed bug life cycle

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