Bed Bug Identification
Bed bug identification can be accomplished via pictures of the insects
themselves, and other signs such as mattress markings and skin bites.
This page shows bed bugs pictures at every stage of development and
provides multiple mehtods for identifying bed bugs.."
Bed Bug Identification
It's easy to confuse bed bugs with other common insects found
If you find a bed bug, be sure to save it so that an entomologist or
exterminator can properly identify the sample.
Bugs that are similar or often confused with bed bugs include:
Use a Professional to Identify Bed Bugs
There area several ways to have a sample insect correctly identified:
Your Local Cooperative Extension Office: Many offices have a
staff entomologist that can do bed bug identification for free.
- Call a local University and ask if they have a staff
entomologist or a department of entomology.
- Call your local health department and see if they provide
insect identification services.
- Send a sample to Identify LLC, a company that specializes
in insect identification, with this form
($20 charge). They are an excellent resource for any type of
house bug identification.
- Check our local bed
bug resources page
Bed Bug Identification
Bed bugs change in appearance at
different stages of the life cycle. They pass through 5
stages after being hatched. Baby bedbugs are called nymphs.
They then pass into a 6th adult stage. They also
appearance before and after feeding on a host.
Bed bugs at each stage of the life cycle. Picture is
Males have a pointed abdomen and females have a rounded
Male Bed Bug
Female Bed bug
Bed bugs have a 3 segment beak with a 4 segment antennae.
Bed bug Dorsal View
Bed Bug Ventral View
Other signs that answer the question "how to identify bed
- Adults are approximately 3/16 inches long, nymphs are
smaller and start life about the size of a sesame seed
- Bed bugs are flat
- Covered with fine gold colored hairs
Bed Bugs Signs
Bed bugs also leave behind signs that they are present.
- Odor or Smell:
At times a bed bug infestation will give off a musty or raspberry type
odor. There are other scents given off that are detected by
trained bed bug sniffing dogs.
- Bed Bug Bites:
Bed bugs tend to bite just before dawn and in some individuals will
cause an allergic skin reaction. Bed bug bites can appear
immediately to as late as 14 days after being bitten, depending on the
sensitivity of the individual. Since bed bug bites are an
allergic reaction, those that do react vary in severity.
Bites can appear as a single bite, or in clusters, patterns
or groups. Bites have clear centers, unlike flea or mosquito
bites which have red centers.
Picture Bed Bug Bites - Immediate reaction after bed bugs bites.
Mild skin reaction which will heal in 2 to 3 days.
Bites result in skin itch which can be treated with an over
the counter topical such as Aveeno
or a product made specifically for bed
bug bite itch.
Picture bed bugs bites reaction 30 minutes after being bitten
Photo by H. J. Harlan
Picture Bed Bug Bite 48 Hours after Being Bitten. Bites are a common source of bed bug identification.
Photo: by H.J. Harlan
Bed bug bites and scabies
identification are often confused. Read more about causes
of body itch.
of Scabies Bites.
Markings on the Bed: Bed bugs leave behind egg shells,
blood stains and fecal matter on the mattress and sheets.
Bed Bug signs on mattress
Bed Bug stains on mattress
Bed Bug fecal stains on mattress
Live Bed Bugs on Mattress
Bed Bugs Mattress Infestation Picture
- Bed Bug eggs:
Bed bug eggs are white, pear shaped and about
the size of a poppy seed. They care laid in groupings of 3 to
5 eggs and are stuck to rough surfaces with a sticky substance.
Eggs can be removed with packing tape, or killed with steam
or bedbug sprays/
Picture Bed Bug Eggs, Feces and Live Bed Bugs on Mattress
Bed Bug Eggs on Surfaced
Bed Bug Identification Next Steps
Once you confirm that you have bed bugs, your next steps are as follows:
Owners: Contact your building management immediately as
several apartments will probably need to be treated. Most
municipalities do not require that building managers pay for treatment,
so if this is the case, see if you can split the cost. Other
options are to organize tenants, or contact a local health department.
- Home Owners:
Contact a local experienced bed bug professional. Since
treatment can cost $1,000 or more and companies use different methods,
at minimum contact 2 companies. A good place to start is the Service
Magic Network (1.877.233.1145) which certifies that
members are pre-screened, and are insured and licensed. They
will also provide up to 4 free quotes. You can also search
of local contractors.
If you prefer to treat a bed bug infestation yourself, it requires a
combination of products which can be economically purchased in a bed
bug kit. Kits have the added advantage of providing
bed bug treatment instructions.
Ask a Question or Share Your Bed Bug Experience With Others
Do you have a question or great story about bed bugs? Share it!
Armed Forces Pest Management Board
Bed Bug Identification to More Information on how to Identify Bed Bugs
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