Bed Bug Pictures

Think you might have bed bugs and wonder what they look like? These photos are the easiest way to know for sure.

This page is pretty long.  So to make it a little easier to navigate, here are links to the main sections on the page and the other pages in the picture gallery.  If you are looking for something specific, just click on the category you want below:

Picture Categories on This Page

Other Bed Bug Picture Pages

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have found bugs is your home that match the pictures on this page – stop.  You need to start bed bug control measures as soon as possible. But don’t do anything until you get educated. Read the bed bug basics and dos and don’ts to start, then visit the bed bug control section to learn your options and develop your best action plan.

Adult Bed Bug Pictures

These photos show just what bedbugs look like.  They are rusty-brown in color and extremely flat when when unfed.

adult bed bug on black backgroundCredit: Gilles San Martin (CC)
adult bedbugCredit Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

Note the difference in shape between the male (left) and the female (right) bed bugs in the picture below.

male and female bed bugs pictureSource: CDC (PD)

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Photos of Bed Bugs - Actual Size Comparisons with Other Objects

Adult bed bugs are typically about 5 mm or 1/4 inch long. 

Bed Bug Actual size - 5 mmSource: Centers for Disease Control (PD)

 Here are some photos of them with other common objects to give you a better idea of their actual size.  

The picture below is a magnified view of a female bedbug and her eggs on the fabric of a mattress. More pictures of bed bugs on furniture and other hiding places...

adult female bedbug on mattress with eggsCredit: Lou Sorkin (CC)

The photo below shows the actual size of an adult bed bug in comparison to a dime. 

actual size bed bug picture - on dimeCredit: MedillDC/NPMA (CC)

The image below is a 3rd or 4th instar bedbug nymph (baby bed bug) compared with a penny. 

bed bug nymph compared to a pennyCredit: StarMaster/Flickr (CC)

As you can see, the nymph is smaller and lighter in color than the adult.  Learn more about bed bug eggs, baby bed bugs and adults on the bed bug life cycle page.

Bedbugs on Human skin

The next photos are close-ups of bed bugs on human skin. As you can see in the first picture, nymphs are much smaller that the adults and almost look like little seeds.

bed bugs crawling on human skinCredit: Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

The photo below shows a closer look at them starting to engorge as they feed...

bed bugs biting a humanCredit: Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

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Pictures of Bed Bugs - Feeding and Engorged

The picture to below shows an adult bed bug on a human piercing the skin and preparing to feed.

bed bug bites human closeupCredit: Dr. Gary Alpert/Harvard Univ. (CC)

They have a beak-like mouth with two tubes in it. Through one tube they inject saliva that acts as a numbing agent and keeps your blood from clotting. Then they suck the blood through the other tube like a straw. The whole process takes about 5-10 minutes.

Bed bugs' bites are not poisonous. The symptoms of bed bug bites people suffer are simply an allergic reaction to their saliva. Learn more in the Bed Bug Bites section of this site.

Bed bugs transform as they feed.

As their bodies fill with blood they become engorged - swelling up like a blood-filled balloon. They even become longer. Their color changes from a rusty brown to a darker purplish-red color and have a more shiny appearance. 

This set of bed bug pictures shows the transformation quite well.  In the picture on the left, the bed bug is just preparing to feed - see how flat its body is?

bed bug preparing to feedCredit: Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

The photo below shows the bedbug in the middle of feeding - just starting to swell and becoming a little shinier and darker in color.

bed bug feeding - partially engorgedCredit: Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

The picture below demonstrates how a bed bug looks after a complete blood meal. Like a balloon of blood almost ready to burst! 

fully engorged bed bug after feedingCredit: Dr. Harold Harlan/AFPMB (CC)

When bed bugs get crushed by a person moving unexpectedly, they leave a blood stain behind - one of the 9 tell-tale symptoms of bed bug infestation.

They can also be quite acrobatic!

These pictures show a number of bed bugs feeding on the hand of Lou Sorkin, Entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. 

bed bugs hanging off human handCredit: Lou Sorkin (CC)

Notice in the picture above how they can actually hang while they are feeding!

 As they feed their bodies swell and become elongated - making them look like a different bug altogether. 

bed bugs feeding on humanCredit: Lou Sorkin (CC)

Here's a picture of a number of bed bugs feeding from a vial where they are kept in the laboratory. Lou makes an interesting comment that often they stay on the paper in the vial and just stretch out to feed rather than venturing all the way out onto his skin.

bed bugs feeding from a vial in the laboratoryCredit: Lou Sorkin (CC)

He notes this is one explanation for why bed bug bites sometimes appear in a line. A number of them could be lined up on your sheets while you sleep, feeding on exposed skin much like farm animals at a feeding trough. 

Close-up Pictures of Engorged Bed Bugs

partly engorged bed bug closeupSource: CDC (PD)
fully engorged bedbug closeupCredit: Michael Higgins/AFPMB (CC)

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Bed Bugs vs Other Insects

Bed bugs can be easily confused with a variety of other insects.  Even their bites mimic the symptoms of other bug bites and allergic reactions to other irritants.  

These photos of other insects in comparison to a bed bug should help clear up any confusion. For more help, see the how to identify bed bugs page.

Bed Bug Picture

bed bug compared to other insectsCredit: Piotr Naskreski/Harvard Univ. (CC)

4 Other Insects

4 insects confused with bed bugsSource: CDC (PD)

Bed Bugs vs Mosquitoes

bedbugs vs mosquitoesSource: CDC (PD)

Bed Bugs vs Spiders

bedbugs vs spidersSource: CDC (PD)

Flea and Flea Larva

flea up close with larvaSource: CDC (PD)

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

wood ticks are sometimes confused with bedbugsCredit: Dr. Christopher Paddock/CDC (PD)

Bed Bugs vs Spider Beetles

The photo below shows the obvious difference between bed bugs and spider beetles in side-by-side comparison.  The beetles have a definite bulb-like shape while the bedbugs are extremely flat.

bedbugs vs spider beetlesCredit Lou Sorkin (CC)

Here are pictures of two other types of beetles that people sometimes mistake for bed bugs.

Variegated Carpet Beetle

variegated carpet beetleCredit: Andre Karwath (CC/Wikimedia)

Common Beetle

beetleSource CDC (PD)

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Whether or not its bed bugs... there's help to be found.

I hope these bed bug pictures will help you determine what you're dealing with. Check out this page to find out how you can also get a professional opinion on what you've found for free.

You can learn how to properly inspect your home or hotel room for bed bugs here.

If you've ruled out bed bugs, check out this site for good information about other household pests and how to identify them.

If you've determined that bed bugs are in fact what you're dealing with - don't panic. 

Bed bugs are annoying, but not dangerous. Head on over to the Bed Bug Pest Control section now to learn your options.

You CAN get rid of them - if you take the time to get educated and don't do things that will make your situation worse. (You'd be surprised how many things that seem logical are exactly the wrong things to do.)

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