What Does A Bed Bug Look Like?

Bed bugs can be mistaken for other creatures that are in the same insect family and if you planning on treating bed bugs, you’ll need to know how to identify them. Bed bugs can be mistaken for Cimex adjunctus, or  bat bugs or with Cimexopsis spp which are chimney swift bugs. The swallow bug, Oeciacus spp is also often confused with the bed bug.

The only sure way to know if a bug is really a bed bug,  is to have a professional look at it. A microscope is used to determine if the insect has the characteristics of a bed bug as described below:

  • Adult bed bugs have an oval shape and are flat, when they have just had a meal they will look swollen
  • They are dark, reddish brown in color and will look dark red after they have eaten
  • Adult bed bugs do have wings, but they cannot fly. Their wings are very small and short
  • Adult bed bugs are about 3/16 to 1/5 of an inch long
  • On the front of a bed bugs head, they have what looks like a beak which allows them to pierce and suck blood from their mouths (they actually have two tubes, one to inject anticoagulant and one to draw blood).
  • Bed bug eggs are either white or colorless and will darken as they mature and will eventually have a brown tint to them
  • Bed bug nymphs look similar to adult bed bugs but they are much smaller in size

Here is a picture of an adult bed bug that has not eaten and therefore has it’s tell tale flattened look about it.

Adult Bed Bug

In this picture, you can see the size difference between a bed bug that has eaten and one that has not.  As they eat, they become elongated.  They are also swollen and are therefore thicker.

Full Bed Bug

In the following picture, you’ll see what the bed bug looks like in various stages of its life.  The bed bug is commonly found in the same area at all these stages.  If you have adult bed bugs, you will also have eggs.  This is what makes it hard to treat the bed bug, because as you may kill off the adults, the eggs may still be present.

Bed Bug Life Stages

Remember that it can be hard to differentiate between some different species of bugs, and what you think is a bed bug, might not be a bed bug at all. In fact, if you live in the Midwest and think you have found a bed bug, it is more likely that you found a bat bug instead.

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