What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bug identification: bed bugs are visible, about 5mm long, flat, and oval.

Bed bugs, sometimes described by the European spelling as bedbugs, are the scourge of hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, apartments, single family residences, and just about any area occupied by humans. The scientific name is Cimex lectularius Linnaeus and the Spanish common name is chinche de coma. Contrary to the myth, adult bed bugs are visible.

Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” or just under 5mm in length and are oval and flat. When fed, the bed bug can swell in height so that there is no longer an appearance of it being flat. Bed bugs can range in color depending on many factors including time after most recent blood meal. The colors range from nearly opaque to red to mahogany to deep purple. Earlier stages of life, such as newly hatched nymphs are very small and difficult to see.

Bed bugs have six legs as do all insects. Bed bugs hide during daylight hours and come out at night so it is not common to observe bed bugs during the day as one would for ants or roaches. Bed bugs do not fly as they have no wings and move by crawling or “hitchhiking” on baggage or items carried by humans including clothing.

Bed bugs hatch from eggs and then grow and develop as nymphs. For each stage, or to shed the shell into a new nymphal stage, the bed bug must feed on blood. They prefer human blood.

After being nearly eradicated in the 1960s in the United States, bed bugs have enjoyed resurgence in recent years and there appears to be no end in sight.

Read about other bugs that look like bed bugs.

Frontal close up view of a bed bug:
picture of a bed bug - what a bed bug looks like

Bed Bugs

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