As a pest control company, we get this question a lot. Not just because bed bugs are a pest problem that continues to grow at an alarming rate all across the country but also because bed bugs don't always look like bed bugs. What? How can a bug not look like itself? Lots of bugs do it. Before a moth becomes a moth, it doesn't look at all like a moth. Its offspring don't have wings and don't fly. And, although moths are insects, their larvae do not have the six legs that are characteristic of an insect. They are caterpillars, and caterpillars have many legs. While the difference between newly hatched bed bugs and fully mature bed bugs is not quite this dramatic, it is still something to consider when attempting to identify what bug you just found in your bed. So, let's start here with our identification.
What Does A Baby Bed Bug Look Like?
When a bed bug first hatches from its egg sack, it is under 2 millimeters in size and its cuticle (skin) is mostly transparent. What color they do have is mostly a pale yellow. Under magnification, you may be able to see black feces within the abdomen.
As you can imagine, immature bed bug nymphs are hard to see. This is unfortunate because immature bed bugs are the bugs you're most likely to see. They come out to feed more often than adults. But, if you catch them during, or after, a blood meal, they will be bright red and a little bit easier to detect.
Unlike ticks, which start with six legs and develop another pair when they become nymphs, bed bugs start out with six legs and continue on with six legs through their entire life cycle. They also have the two antennae and three body parts of a full grown bed bug. What they lack is the rust coloring and defined abdomen creases.
What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like?
If you want to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home, learning to recognize bed bug eggs is an important start. Bed bugs leave their eggs on clothing and in the seams of luggage and bags. These tiny eggs could be deposited on a sleeping bag that was brought back from a sleepover or attached to the binder of a book you just got from the library. Bed bug females leave their eggs in many places. And, since bed bug eggs don't need their mother to tend to them, an infestation can begin with one tiny little batch.
Bed bug eggs are not much bigger than the baby bed bug inside. This makes them just over 2 millimeters. They are white, sticky, pill-shaped, and not much more than a speck to look at. While they look a little bit like a grain of rice, they are much smaller than rice. These eggs will appear in tiny batches, as single eggs, or a litter of eggs stuck to surfaces and stuffed in seams.
What Does A Bed Bug Nymph Look Like?
Bed bugs go through five developmental stages, called instars. As they grow, they shed their skin, and become less transparent and more brown to rust-colored. Through each stage, even adult, it is still possible to see their internal, excrement-coated parts. This black coloring, in its abdomen, can add significantly to the look of these bugs.
What Does An Adult Bed Bug Look Like?
When a bed bug reaches its full size, it is still incredibly small at only around 4.5 millimeters in length. If it has not fed, it will be flat and oval in shape. Fed bed bugs look bloated and are more of a pill shape.
The characteristic you're most likely to notice first on a fully mature bed bug are the horizontal lines on its abdomen. These are creases that allow the bed bug's abdomen to expand when it fills with blood. They are present in all stages. But the more a bed bug grows, the more distinct these creases become.
If you've found a bug in your home, and you suspect it is a bed bug, but aren't quite sure, don't hesitate to reach out to our bed bug control experts. At Russell's Pest Control, we employ pest professionals that are educated in the entomology of these and other invasive pests. We'll help you figure out what that bug is. Identification is key to the resolution of any pest problem.
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