All About Bed Bugs

Wanna learn all about bed bugs the quick and easy way? You'll find all the basics here with links to more in depth bedbug information when you want it. Have specific questions? Find your answers even quicker on our Bed Bug FAQ page.

So, what are bed bugs anyway?

Bed bugs are small, very flat (think credit card) wingless insects that feed on the blood of animals – mostly humans.  Anyone can be affected by bed bugs. They are not attracted to dirt, although clutter does provide them more available hiding places (harborages). They can be found almost anywhere, from five star hotels to housing projects, in planes, trains and automobiles, and most public places like libraries, schools, and even retail stores. 

They don't live on humans, but are easily spread by hitching a ride on clothing, handbags and suitcases, and upholstered furniture among other things. So if you you have bed's not your fault and you're not alone!

Bed bugs are usually active at night, preferring to feed under cover of darkness while their victims are sleeping. Once they've had their fill, they scurry back to their hiding places until time for the next meal.

What do bed bugs look like?

Adult bed bugs are a rusty-brown color, oval shaped and about ¼” long.  They swell up and become darker and more elongated as they feed. Baby bed bugs (nymphs) are much smaller and lighter in color.  Bed bug eggs are very small (1mm long) and translucent to milky white in color. They are visible to the naked eye but much more difficult to see. 

Visit our bed bug picture gallery to take visual tour of sorts all about bed bugs.  See photos of adult bedbugs, nymphs and bed bug eggs as well as other evidence of an infestation like fecal stains and cast skins.

There’s even a page of photos showing what bed bug bites look like and the wide variety of reactions people can have.

The bed bug life cycle page has more in depth descriptions of what they look like in each stage of development.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites are not dangerous but they can be extremely irritating. Bed bug bite symptoms vary and may be delayed as long as 14 days.

Bed bugs’ bites are painless when they happen. So most people don’t wake up and have no idea that they've been bitten until later when they show symptoms of allergic reaction to the bites.

Learn all about bed bug bites, what they look like and common bite symptoms in the bed bug bites section.  You'll also find tips for reducing how often you are bitten and tips for treating bed bug bites - including how to really stop the itch.

Bites alone are not enough to determine whether there is a bed bug infestation. Thorough inspection and detection of signs of bed bug infestation is absolutely necessary. 

Bottom line? The only way to know for sure if you have bed bugs is to find evidence of them.

Bed Bug Detection and Identification

Bites are usually the first symptom of a bed bug problem.  But by the time you first notice the bites, you may already have more than one generation of bed bugs living under your roof!  

The most common signs of bed bug infestation include blood or fecal stains, shed skins (bed bug "shells") and bed bug nymphs or eggs.  Learn all about the 9 tell-tale symptoms of bed bugs and see pictures of the signs of bed bug infestation so you know how to identify them.

If you think you might have bed bugs, it’s time to get down and dirty. Inspecting for bed bugs is not as hard as it might seem, but it will take a little bit of time and effort.  There are a few things you will need to know before you start. You can learn them in the bed bug detection section of this site.

Bed bugs tend to stay close to their food source (where you sleep or sit for long periods of time) but they are crafty little creatures and because they are so flat, they can hide in surprising places. Finding them takes a little work and knowing where to look. Here are some pictures of where bed bugs hide that will help...

If a visual inspection doesn't yield proof an infestation, there are other methods of detecting bed bugs ranging inexpensive traps to hiring a company that uses bed bug sniffing dogs to search them out. Learn all about bed bug detection options here

I'm pretty sure I have bed bugs...what now?

IMPORTANT: Before you do anything to try to deal with a bed bug problem yourself, read these basic dos and don'ts and these specific bed bug pest control dos and don'ts. Maybe you don't need to know everything about bed bugs but this information is a must read. You’ll thank me later...

Eliminating bed bugs once they've made themselves at home may be difficult but it’s not impossible.  It takes an integrated pest management approach – and hiring an exterminator who has experience specifically with bedbugs will always be your best bet - if you can afford it.

There are many ways to kill bed bugs and treatment options include both chemical applications like liquid pesticides and bed bug dusts and non-chemical treatments such as steam and whole-house heat treatments. Learn all about bed bug treatments in the bedbug pest control section.

The Bed Bug Life cycle

Understanding their life cycle is important if you need to get rid of bed bugs. Here are some basics...

A female bed bug can lay about 500 eggs in her lifetime. They go through 3 main life stages: egg, nymph and adult. Nymphs (baby bed bugs) go through 5 periods of development (called instars) from hatching to adulthood.  They need a blood meal before molting (shedding their skin) as they move into their next stage of development.

Bed Bug Prevention is worth a TON of cure...

Of course, the best way to deal with bed bugs is to keep from letting them in your home in the first place. Start with the ABCs of bed bug prevention so you can rest easy.

Knowing what to look for and how bedbugs spread are important first steps in preventing an infestation.  Being a savvy traveler and smart shopper will go a long way too. But the reality is bed bugs are everywhere... so avoiding them entirely is not that likely.

Have no fear!  There are still plenty of things you can do to reduce your risk of a bed bug infestation... 

Set yourself up for success by learning what to do if you do come in contact with them. Protect your bed and make it an unfriendly place for bed bugs to call home. Take simple precautions to get rid of any tag-a-longs you may pick up along the way.  Check out this section to learn all about bed bugs and how to prevent them.

Well, that's all about bed bugs in the basic sense. Need more specifics?

Check out these sections for more help:

  • Bed Bugs Pictures - a gallery full of pictures of bed bugs, signs of infestation, bed bug bites, etc.
  • Bed Bug Bites - everything you need to know about what they look like, symptoms, treatment, etc.
  • Bed Bug Prevention - tips and tricks to keep bed bugs from infesting your home
  • Bed Bug Detection - how to check for and identify bed bugs, including where they hide, how to inspect a hotel room, etc.
  • Bed Bug Pest Control - best practices for getting rid of them, what really kills bed bugs, etc.
  • Bed Bug Exterminators - how to pick one, what they cost, how to prepare for treatment, etc.

Coming very very soon...

Bed Bug FAQs

Find quick and easy answers to the most frequently asked bed bug questions on the Bed Bug FAQs page.

Don't see your question? Add it to the list and I'll post an answer!!

Bed Bug Glossary

Don't know what a nymph is or what harborage means?  Wonder what IPM and PCO stand for? We break down the technical jargon and give you all the definitions you will ever need in the Bed Bug Glossary.

(BTW... we try to keep the jargon to minimum and use terms that people are familiar with as much as possible.)

You are here:

> All About Bed Bugs

What's Next?

Share This!

Get the 10-Minute Bed Bug Crash Course for FREE!

Enter your email address below, and I'll send you the link to download it for free right away! Want to know more about it first? click here

Check out our FACEBOOK page!

You can also find the most recent content and news updates on the Bed Bug Answers blog...

Search this site:

Search the web via Google:

FTC Disclosure: This site contains some advertising and affiliate links. That means if you click and/or buy through those links, the merchant may pay a small commission to support this site - at no extra cost to you. 

Thanks!! Your support of this site is really appreciated :-)  (See more details in the Disclosure Policy)

Shop for Bed Bug Products