Adult and Juvenile Actual Size Bed Bugs
Adult (left) and Juvenile (right) Actual Size Bed Bugs
Bed bug identification can be accomplished via pictures of the insects themselves along with other signs such as mattress markings and skin bites.
It is easy to confuse bed bugs with similar looking insects, so look for multiple signs before concluding that you have an infestation. You can also bring an insect for confirmation to a local cooperative extension or send a sample to the Cornell Diagnostic Laboratory.
This page shows bed bugs pictures at every stage of development and provides multiple methods for identifying bed bugs.
Magnified View of Bed Bug on Skin
Bed Bug Actual Size
Adult Bed Bug Actual Size
Bed Bug identification: Appearance
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. Pictures is Magnified
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
How to Identify a Bed Bug - Checklist
Bed Bug Identificadtion Checklist: If you answered "yes" for any of the questions 1 - 10, please refer to detailed descriptions & pictures below.
Bed Bug Adult Identification
List of Bed Bug Adult Features
Bed Bug Juvenile Identification
Bed Bug Juvenile Characteristics and Picture
Bed Bug Egg Identification
Bed Bug Egg Identificaiton Checklist
tips for identifying bed bugs
Adults are approximately 3/16 inches long, nymphs are
smaller and start life about the size of a sesame seed.
Bed Bug Nymph on Side of Penny
Adult Bed Bug on Penny
Bed bugs are flat and covered with golden hairs.
Bed Bug Side View
insects confused with bed bugs
Insects Similar to Bed Bugs
Left to Right: Bat Bug, Bed Bug and Swallow Bug
It is 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:
Identification: Swallow bugs are found in beds and bite
Swallow Bug Compared to Bed bug
Swallow Bug Picture
Bed Bug Picture
Bat Bug Compared to a Bed Bug
Bat Bug vs. Bed Bug
Assassin or Kissing bugs
Assassin or Kissing Bugs
Bed Bug Illustration
German Baby Cockroaches are often Confused with Bedbugs
Photo Credit: U of Nebraska
Baby or young cockroaches are similar in appearance to bed bugs.
Eggs are rectangular instead of the oval or pear shape found
with bedbug eggs. Insects are closer to brown than red.
Carpet and Warehouse Beetle Adults
Carpet and Warehouse Beetles and Larvae are found in beds. The beetles can shed hair that can cause skin itch. Beetles do not bite.
Spider beetles are often confused with bed bugs. Like the carpet and warehouse beetles, they do not bite humans.
Other Insects Confused with Bed Bugs
Flea (left) and Earwig (Right) Are Confused With Bed Bugs
- Tropical bed bugs
- Mexican Chicken/Poultry bugs
- Stink bugs
- Wheel bugs
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 the Cornell Diagnostic Laboratory, which specializes
in insect identification.
Check our local bed
bug resources page
Call a professional from our database or that is listed with Home Advisor (provides free extermination quotes)
other bed bug signs
Bed bugs 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 Bite Images
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.
Bites are one form of bed bug identification.
Photo of Immediate Reaction to Bed Bug Bite
Picture of Bed Bug Bites on Arm - Immediate Allergic Reaction
Mild skin reactions 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.
30 Minute Bed Bug Bite Reaction
Picture of bed bugs bite reaction 30 minutes after bite
Photo: H.J. Harlan
Symptoms 48 Hours After Bed Bug Bite
Picture of Bed Bug Bite 48 Hours After Being Bitten
Bed Bug Bite Compared to Scabies
Bed bug bites and scabies
identification are often confused. Read more about causes
of body itch.
Picture of Scabies Bites
bed bugs and mattress signs
Bed bugs leave behind egg shells,
blood stains and fecal matter on the mattress and sheets. They position themselves as close to the host (human) as possible. As the seams fill with bed bugs they spread to the box spring, head board, nearby furniture and then appliances and walls.
Bed Bug Signs on Mattress
Bed Bug Signs and Stains on Mattress
Bed Bug Fecal Stains on Mattress
Live Bed Bugs on Mattress
bed bug eggs
Bed bug eggs are white, pear shaped and about
the size of a poppy seed. They are 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 low cost bedbug sprays such as Sterifab (not all sprays kill bedbug eggs, check the label if buying a different brand).
Picture Bed Bug Eggs, Feces and Live Bed Bugs on Mattress
Bed Bug Eggs on Surface
What to do after discovering bed bugs
Once you confirm that you have bed bugs, your next steps are as follows:
Apartment Renters or Owners
Contact your building management immediately in writing as
several apartments will probably need to be treated. Some municipalities require that building managers pay for treatment. Other do not,
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. See our resources section for specific State (U.S.) or country information.
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 Home Advisor Network. You can also call 1.877.673.2704.
Exterminators are pre-screened and should be insured and licensed. 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. For example, kits contain a knock down spray to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact, and another spray applied after the first to provide lasting protection. Kits have the added advantage of providing
bed bug treatment instructions.
Each of these free brochures provide additional information on bed bug identification and treatment. (click on title to download each bed bug identification brochure).
Ask a question or share your experience
Ask a Question or Share Your Bed Bug Experience With Others
Do you have a question or great story about bed bugs? Share it!
What Other Visitors Have Said About Bed Bugs
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University of Nebraska Department of Entomology