Anatomy of Bed Bugs

When they feed, bed bug bodies swell in height

Bed bugs are insects and so they have six legs and three body parts. The body parts include the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. Bed bugs belong to the order hemiptera which includes true bugs.

Many true bugs are flightless, but the distinguishing characteristic of this order is the piercing sucking mouthparts. Many true bugs feed on plant sap; however, some, including the bed bug, feed on humans.

The bed bug body is equipped with vestigial wings, meaning that they have undeveloped wings in the form of wing pads. They do not have full wings and cannot fly. The bed bug sole source of propelling is by crawling. They are good hitchhikers, so they use humans and other methods to move where possible.

The six legs of the bed bug are equipped to move on vertical surfaces, although some surfaces are not hospitable to their movement. The legs are not capable of causing the bed bug to jump.

The bed bug head includes the mouthparts which pierce skin and suck blood. The bed bug has two eyes as well as short antennae. The bed bug looks similar to other similar insects such as the bat bug with the distinguishing characteristics are found on the hairs on the head.

The bed bug body is flat as an adult and late instar nymph (juvenile). Late instar nymphs look similar to adults with flat bodies. When they feed, the bodies swell in height and to a lesser extent, length. A bed bug feeds to repletion in approximately 3 to 10 minutes. Blood meals are required for the bed bug to move to the next stage of development. Both male and female bed bugs feed and may feed several times per life stage.

The male has a pointed tip of the abdomen, and the female has a rounded tip. These distinguish the bed bugs when gender surveys are being done. Females lay eggs from the end of the abdomen and can lay over 400 eggs in her lifetime.

Closeup image of bed bug exposing anatomical features:
closeup picture of a bed bug highlighting features of its anatomy