graphic of bed bug anatomy

The resurgence of bed bugs in the United States in recent years has put health officials, business owners and the general public on red alert. Most people can’t bear the thought of visiting a nice hotel and finding bed bugs or, even worse, having an infestation in their home. Having a better understanding of the anatomy of bed bugs may help you to identify these pests and possibly put you a little more at ease. Here is some information about bed bugs that you may find beneficial.


Adult bed bugs are typically about one-fourth of an inch long and have flattened, oval-shaped bodies. After a full meal, they may appear to be more swollen and elongated. Bed bugs range in color from reddish-brown to bright red, once they’ve fed. Baby bed bugs, called nymphs, are colorless when they hatch but become a more reddish-brown color as they mature.


Bed bugs belong to the order Hemiptera, which includes all true bugs. These bugs feed on the sap from plants; however, they depend on the blood of animals. Their primary animal host is a human. Bed bugs are considered to be insects because they have six legs and three body parts – the head, thorax and abdomen.


Although bed bugs have wings, they cannot fly. They can’t jump either, like another common blood-feeder, the flea, so their primary means of motion is to crawl. However, although they may be limited to crawling, bed bugs are excellent at hitching a ride from one location to another. They crawl into luggage, shopping bags and any number of stored goods, and are easily transported. If you are unfortunate enough to find bed bugs in your home, it’s likely that you brought them in from somewhere else.


As unsettling as it may sound, the anatomy of a bed bug includes a sucking mouthpart that pierces the skin when bed bugs feed. They use this mouthpiece to suck blood from a host and continue feeding until they have taken a full meal. Bed bugs primarily feed on the host animal at night, so you may not even know you’ve been bitten. A small, red bump may appear a few hours later.


Perhaps the most disturbing fact regarding bed bug anatomy is the ability of this pest to reproduce. Female bed bugs can lay up to five eggs per day and as many as 500 to 600 in one lifetime, which is about six months. The young nymphs can reach adulthood in as little as 21 days and begin laying eggs. In a relatively short period of time, you could have a full-blown infestation.

Understanding the anatomy of bed bugs is one thing, but knowing how to get rid of them is another. So that you can sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite, call the pest management professionals at Terminix® for a free bed bug inspection. They know how to send bed bugs packing.

Bed Bug Identification Resources: