Despite their small size, bed bugs are a very big deal.
If you have them in your home or place of business, then urgent action is required. Without professional help, bed bugs are very likely to spread and form a seriously problematic infestation.
In this article, we will share with you what bed bugs look like so that you can learn to recognize them.
If you think you might have bed bug trouble, we strongly recommend that you contact an exterminator and ask for a professional inspection, as opposed to attempting to handle the problem with a DIY solution. Unfortunately, despite certain advantages, such solutions can very easily make an infestation much worse in the long run.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
In order to answer the question of what bed bugs look like, we need to consider the fact that these insects look different at different phases of their physical development.
Bed bugs begin their lives as tiny, pearl-white eggs. These eggs are about one millimeter in diameter (0.039 inches). In other words, they’re about the size of a couple of grains of salt.
Most bed bug eggs hatch within less than 10 days. Bed bug babies and younglings are called nymphs. Nymphs are small, oval shaped and have yellowish white (almost colorless) bodies.
Nymphs have somewhat transparent skin. After feeding their bodies take on the color of blood. (A bed bug’s diet consists completely of blood.)
Fully grown bed bugs are about a quarter of an inch long. They are flat, oval shaped and have brown skin.
Just as with nymphs, the appearance of a mature bed bug is somewhat altered as it feeds. Its color turns from brown to dark purple. Its body elongates and goes from being flat and oval shaped to being plump and cylindrical.
(Warning: A single, previously mated female bed bug is enough to lay the foundation of a full-blown infestation in a relatively short period of time. So, please don’t wait to reach out for a free inspection. Click here to do so now.)
Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures, so they sleep during the day and come out to feed at night. If you find that you are waking up with bites on the exposed areas of your skin, there’s a decent chance you may have bed bugs in your home.
This may be true, even if you don’t see them laying around and sleeping during the day. Bed bugs live in tight, cramped areas. You might find them hiding in areas like:
-Cracks or crevices in headboards
-Underneath mattress tags
-Hidden areas along the stitching of pillowcases, bedsheets and mattresses
-Open areas of box springs
-Inside open electrical outlets near the bed
Bed Bug Look-Alikes
Another reason for seeking out professional help is that even if you think you have seen bed bugs in your home, it’s possible that you’re actually seeing a different type of insect. There are multiple insect species that look quite similar to bed bugs. We’ve included a few in this article.
Bed Bug Look-Alike #1: Bat Bug
Just like bed bugs, bat bugs are bloodsuckers. As the name implies, their preferred source of nourishment is bat blood. If you find bat bugs in your house, there’s a possibility that you may also have bats living in your house, perhaps in your attic.
Bat bugs look remarkably similar to bed bugs. In fact, the only way to tell them apart is by putting them under a microscope.
Even though bat bugs prefer to feed on bat blood, if they lack access to bats, they may start to feed on human blood or the blood of other animals (think: pets). In fact, they may even start taking up residence in areas usually inhabited by bed bugs, such as mattresses and bedsheets.
Bat bugs are moderately common in the United States Midwest. They have also been discovered in Scotland.
Bed Bug Look-Alike #2: Spider Beetle
As implied by the name, spider beetles can easily be mistaken for spiders. Unlike spiders, they only have six legs. But their antennae look sort of like an extra pair of legs.
According to Wikipedia:
“Spider beetles make up the subfamily Ptininae, in the family Ptinidae. There are approximately 70 genera and 600 species in the subfamily, with about 12 genera and 70 species in North America north of Mexico.”
Spider beetles share certain appearance similarities with bed bugs. They are roughly the same size and color. And the shape of a spider beetle is somewhat similar to the shape that a bed bug has after feeding.
Unlike bed bugs and bat bugs, spider beetles are not bloodsuckers. Instead, they prefer to scavenge for sources of nourishment in pantries.
Bed Bug Look-Alike #3: Booklice
Booklice are very small insects that can range in color from brown to grey to translucent white.
They have been known to be mistaken for bed bug nymphs.
Areas where booklice might be found include along the sides of window frames, under windowsills and behind wallpaper.
Their diets include things like pollen, fungi and mold, as well as fragments of dead insects.
Bed Bug Look-Alike #4: Cockroach Nymphs
Full-grown cockroaches are quite large. American cockroaches can easily grow to be roughly 1.5 inches long.
Given that bed bugs only grow to about 0.25 inches long, it seems it would be difficult to mistake one of these insects for the other.
But cockroach nymphs (i.e. young cockroaches) are actually quite similar in size to mature bed bugs.
These insects could easily be mistaken for each other by someone who is not a trained professional .
Hopefully you now have a good idea of what bed bugs look like. If you think you may have trouble with bed bugs or any other type of insect infestation, we would be happy to help you.
Some of these bed bugs look-alikes aren’t quite as problematic as bed bugs themselves. But you still don’t want them hanging around your home.
If you’re interested, we’d be happy to offer you a free inspection for your home or office. Feel free to reach out today.
Presidio Pest Management