It doesn’t take long for a bed bug infestation to grow. Being able to quickly recognize these bugs—whether in your own home or somewhere you are visiting—could keep you from living a nightmare. Bed bugs are hitchhikers. When you go on a vacation, they could come home with you. When your kids go to a friend’s house to spend the night, they could bring them back into your home.
Any time you or someone who lives with you leaves the house and returns, there is a chance of picking up bed bugs. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that you be able to quickly recognize what they look like and share that information with everyone in your home.
What Color Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs can have a different coloring depending on several factors. Understanding these factors can help you identify these bugs at all times.
- Newborn bed bugs are an off-white color and mostly transparent. If you are looking for a brown or rust-colored bug, you may mistake bed bug larvae for another type of bug.
- When a bed bug larva feeds, it will become bright red as its abdomen fills with blood. This bright red coloring can help you detect a baby bed bug that is feeding in the daytime.
- As bed bugs grow they become more brown or reddish-brown and less transparent. However, they are never fully opaque. Therefore, it is possible to see their black, feces-coated insides and mistake it for exterior coloring.
- Throughout their development, bed bugs will have a brown (or tan) color to their skin and black internals visible within their abdomens. Bed bugs that have recently fed on blood will have a reddish tint to them.
What Size Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs can be different sizes, depending on when you see them.
- When bed bugs first hatch, they are the size of the tip of a pen. At this size, you’re not likely to see a bed bug unless it has been feeding and its abdomen is engorged with blood.
- As bed bugs develop, they grow in size. A full-grown bed bug is still quite small, measuring about 5 millimeters.
- When a bed bug is unfed, it will be flat and oval-shaped. If it has had a blood meal, its abdomen will be pill-shaped and bloated.
- Through all five development stages (instars), a fed bed bug will look much different from an unfed bed bug. This feeding changes its shape and coloration and makes it difficult to see their black-coated insides.
Bed Bug Distinguishing Characteristics
Bed bugs are insects. Understanding this can help differentiate these bugs from mites and other six-legged pests. Some characteristics of insects are:
- Insects have two antennae that bow outwards from the front of the head. These antennae are thick at the base, thin from the halfway point on, and extend out to the width of the abdomen.
- All insects have a head, thorax, and abdomen, but the three body parts of a bed bug can sometimes be hard to distinguish—unless it has been feeding. An engorged bed bug will have a bloated abdomen that will help in recognizing the division between it and the thorax. In proportion, the head is half the size of the thorax, and the thorax is about one-sixth the size of the abdomen.
Other Notable Characteristics
Apart from size, color, and insect characteristics, there are some physical traits that make a bed bug stand out from other insects.
- A bed bug has a recognizable abdomen. Even from a distance, it is possible to see the shiny, horizontal lines that run down its back like lines on a piece of paper. These will appear as creases on an unfed bed bug and shiny lines on a bed bug that has had a full meal. In a group of bed bugs, these horizontal lines will stand out on each individual bug as they are huddled together.
- Bed bugs all have a little bit of a rounded point on their abdomens, but the end of an adult male bed bug is more pointed than a female, making its shape more of an arrow tip than oval.
See Bed Bugs? Call McCall Service!
Recognizing bed bugs outside your home can make a big difference in keeping them from coming home with you. If, however, an infestation does occur in your home or business, remember that McCall Service has the most advanced bed bug service available. Reach out to us for immediate assistance and a free inspection today.