Everyone needs to know how to identify bed bugs! Learn how to recognize bedbugs yourself and find out where you can get (free) professional help to make a positive ID on any bugs you've found.
With that out of the way...
There are 3 basic ways to identify whatever insect you've found and determine whether or not it's a bed bug or not. If you're pressed for time and you have a digital camera handy to snap a high quality picture of what you've found...skip to the to the bottom of the page by clicking here. Otherwise, read on to learn all of your options.
Since 1 in 5 people in the US has been affected by bedbugs (or knows someone who has), everyone should know how to identify bed bugs or at least be able to make a well-informed guess.
The truth is, you don't have to be a science geek to learn how to identify bed bugs yourself. It's really just a matter of knowing what bed bugs look like. To cut to the chase, here's a picture of an adult bed bug for reference:
Not sure? Think it might be something else? There are a quite a few insects people sometimes confuse for bed bugs. These pictures of bed bugs vs. other bugs should you help you out. If you're pretty sure it's not a bed bug but don't know what kind of insect it really is, you can check out the National Pest Management Association's Pest Guide. It links to pages on over 50 different pests!
Even if you're pretty sure what you have found is a bed bug, I highly recommend that you have a professional confirm the ID. There are a couple of other species like bat bugs that look almost identical to bed bugs, so consulting a pro is always a good idea. Luckily, there are a number of ways ways to positively identify bed bugs with the help of a professional. And believe it or not, it's usually free!
Maybe you don't want to go the DIY route, or you just don't trust your own judgment. Then having an exterminator identify the sample might be the route for you. Typically, they won't charge you – especially if you bring the sample to them.
Just make sure you choose one who is well-qualified to deal with bed bugs. Surprisingly, many exterminators just don't have the experience and know-how to tackle this particular pest. Find out how to choose the right professional in the section on working with bed bug exterminators.
Believe it or not, you can have an entomologist (insect scientist) review your sample and give you an expert opinion on what it is.
Seems crazy that you can do this, right? Actually, it's a lot simpler than you might think.
Here are two ways to identify bed bugs with the help of a local entomologist:
First, you can contact the Cooperative Extension Office in your county. In most cases, they have an entomologist on staff, at least part-time. You will need to send or bring in a sample for them to review. You can get contact information for your local Cooperative Extension Office by clicking this link.
Second, if you live near a major university (or even some smaller colleges) you can contact their Entomology Department to see if you can get your sample identified. In most cases, the Entomology Department staff will be happy to help members of the community identify their pest issues.
Now that you have three solid options to identify bed bugs (or other pests), it's time to determine where you're headed next on this journey...
If you find that you are dealing with bed bugs, don't panic. The situation is manageable if you don't jump the gun and make critical bed bug pest control mistakes. Learn the basics of Integrated Pest Management in the bed bug pest control section so you can make wise choices and get rid of these suckers for good!
If you determine that you don't have bed bugs, that's great! Head on over to the bed bug prevention section to learn how to keep it that way!
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
You can also find the most recent content and news updates on the Bed Bug Answers blog...