bed bug on skin

Bed bugs are relatively flat and small, with bed bug sizes ranging from 1 mm to 7 mm, depending on their age and life cycle stage.

In general, adult bed bugs are:

● About the size of an apple seed (5-7 mm or 3/16-1/4 inch long)
● Flat, oval-shaped and reddish-brown (if not blood fed recently)
● Balloon-like and bright red (if blood fed recently)
● Produce a foul, somewhat musty odor
● Not known to jump or fly, but walk instead
● Unlikely to live on human hosts, but come out from hiding spots to blood feed


How big are bed bugs at each stage?


The actual size of bed bugs can vary, depending on life stage and age. To help understand bed bugs and their life cycle, here’s a general bed bug size comparison of each stage:

● Eggs are tiny, about the size of a pin head (1 mm)
● 1st stage nymph (1.5 mm)
● 2nd stage nymph (2 mm)
● 3rd stage nymph (2.5 mm)
● 4th stage nymph (3 mm), about the size of a sesame seed
● 5th stage nymph (4.5 mm)
● Adult bed bugs (5-7 mm or 3/16-1/4 inch), about the size of an apple seed




In addition to using the size of bed bugs for identification, you can look at other key features. Bed bugs have oval-shaped bodies and tend to be reddish-brown in color. As with most insects, bed bugs have six legs, antennae, a small head, an abdomen and a thorax. Bed bugs also do not have wings, do not fly and do not jump.

Interestingly, bed bugs can be flat if they haven’t eaten. However, if bed bugs have fed recently, their abdomens become engorged with blood. This makes them look long, which sometimes leads to people mistaking them for other insects.


Are bed bugs large enough to see?

Although most people would prefer not to see bed bugs, these insects are big enough to be visible to the naked eye if you know where to look for them. Adult bed bugs can be about the length of a flat-head thumbtack. (Remember, though, that's length only; they aren't the exact size of a tack.)

And while their size makes it physically possible to see bed bugs, it's not likely you'll be able to distinguish them from other insects without a microscope or hand lens. As a matter of fact, bed bugs can be mistaken for their cousins — bat bugs — and are also sometimes confused with mites and swallow bugs, as well. Bat bugs are less common. So, expert help may be needed in some cases. This is one of many reasons why you should never attempt DIY bed bug control. It's simply too difficult to identify these creatures, unless you're trained to do so.


Terminix can help you identify bed bugs

It can be difficult for untrained individuals to correctly identify bed bugs based solely on the aforementioned characteristics like size and/or color, but having this information, in addition to bed bug images, can help make the process a bit easier. If you believe you had a bed bug infestation, contact a professional to confirm.

If you're unsure whether or not an insect you've seen is a bed bug or are concerned that you may have an infestation, an on-site assessment by a professional pest control technician is recommended. Consider contacting Terminix® today for a FREE inspection, and find out how our customized treatments can help eliminate bed bugs.