What Do Bed Bugs Look Like To The Human Eye

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like To The Human Eye

Posted By Susy Salcedo on Nov 27, 2018

Article at a Glance

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like To The Human Eye

  • Bed bugs have three different phases of physical transformation
  • Bed bug eggs look like small white poppy seeds
  • Nymphs or immature bed bugs have a have a translucent tan coloring and a body shaped like a tiny capsule and grow no larger than a sesame seed
  • Adult bed bugs have a flat, oval body with a reddish-brown coloring

They may be small, but they don’t go unnoticed. While some people find them disgusting, there’s also something undoubtedly fascinating about insects. Perhaps it’s their strange anatomy, or their extraordinary strength relative to their size. Whatever it is, there’s no shortage of curiosity over the secret lives of insects. Even movies have been made trying to depict the world from their unique point of view.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like To The Human Eye

Bed Bugs: A Close-Up

While bees are known for providing humans with delicious honey and ants are admired for their extreme industriousness, bed bugs don’t inspire the same esteem. There probably won’t be movies about bed bugs anytime soon. Like fleas, lice, ticks, and mites, bed bugs feed on blood and are considered parasites. People are their preferred hosts. While they do feed on animal blood, human blood is their favorite choice of food.


What do bed bugs look like to the human eye? Their appearance varies in the different stages of their life cycle. As eggs, they look like white poppy seeds. The eggs are easy to miss and quite impossible to spot in the dark. You will need ample lighting or maybe a magnifying glass and a flashlight to do so. As nymphs or immature bed bugs, they have a translucent tan coloring and a body shaped like a tiny capsule. They will grow no bigger than a sesame seed. After they latch on to people to feed on their blood, their translucent casing will take on a bloody red color. Full-grown adult bed bugs have a flat, oval body with a reddish-brown coloring. They look similar to miniature versions of cockroaches when they haven’t fed. Once they’ve had their fill of blood, their body turns round and fat like a pinhead [1].


Bed bugs don’t have wings and they never grow more than an inch long. They have six legs, and they are very good crawlers. They are mostly nocturnal creatures, preferring to wreak havoc at night [2]. That’s why they are most commonly found hiding in mattresses, beds, and pillows. They tend to burrow their way in seams and holes, making them harder to spot. You can wash and dry your beddings all you want, but it will take a lot more than that to solve the problem of bed bugs.


In all these stages of development, bed bugs are difficult to detect and identify. Not only because they’re tiny, but because they purposely avoid being seen. They scurry away and leave when you move around, but once your body is at rest or when you lay your body down to sleep at night, that’s when they bite your skin. The legs are especially common for insect bites, flea bites, and bed bug bites.


Aside from places of sleep, bed bugs are also known to hide behind peeling wallpapers, carpets, and other thick fabrics. Once they infest a home, it’s difficult to get rid of them. You may need a professional exterminator to handle the fumigation and poisoning to remove these blood-suckers permanently.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

Now that you know what bed bugs look like to the human eye, you should also know about the dangers they pose to your health and home. You also need understand how to exterminate them and prevent another bed bug infestation effectively.


As far as insects and parasites go, bed bugs cause itchy bites and perhaps some minor welts and swelling that can easily be soothed with some rubbing alcohol. Sometimes bed bug bites won’t leave any visible physical evidence. However, a study done by Penn Medicine in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics showed that bed bugs are capable of transmitting the parasite that causes Chagas disease.


An infestation in a home doesn’t happen spontaneously. Bed bugs will have to be transported to your home from an infected area, usually via a human or animal carrier. They can also sneak in bags, boxes, and furniture. Keeping a neat house won’t prevent or get rid of a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs also leave behind a trail of “skin” when they shed and bed bug fecal droppings that will need to be cleaned thoroughly. Check the surface of your mattress for brown spots, that is where fecal dropping will most likely appear if you do have an infestation [3].


Manually squishing a bed bug is not sanitary or effective, especially if they’ve just finished feeding. In fact, doing so will leave blood stains and dark spots. Like most insects, bed bugs breed quickly. It would be challenging, if not impossible, to manually out-kill because of their fast reproduction rate. Professional exterminators use a lot of weapons in their arsenals, such as heat treatments or chemicals like pyrethroids. These will effectively eliminate the bed bugs, including their eggs. Depending on the severity of the infestation, it might take a few attempts, and it can be costly. But bed bugs spread quickly, the longer you sit on it, the more expensive and the more complicated extermination becomes.


Bed bug infestations are relatively common. They are not a sign of a dirty home. Don’t panic if you suspect you have bed bugs in your home. Arm yourself with information about how to identify them. Don’t rely on the bite marks they may leave on your skin as many insect bites look the same. Even a trained medical professional sometimes has difficulty distinguishing a bite from a bed bug [4].  Check mattresses, headboards, and springboards regularly, especially if you are a frequent traveler, or if you have a lot of people coming and going in your house. Fumigate when possible to prevent a full-blown infestation. Finally, once you do confirm a bed bug infestation, don’t try to wait it out. Infestations don’t go away on their own. Also, don’t waste your time and effort on DIY home remedies. Call professional exterminators right away as they have the right tools to handle your bed bug problem.


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