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What Do Bed Bugs Look Like to the Naked Human Eye?

Seeing a bed bug is the surest and usually last noticed sign of a pest problem. However, bed bugs’ appearance varies in different stages of their development which makes them easily mistaken for other insects.
If you’ve found an insect on your bed, don’t panic just yet and read our guide to learn how to recognise bed bugs.

Read how can you get bed bugs >

So, what do bed bugs appear like to the human eye?

Are bed bugs visible in all stages of their development?

Technically speaking, yes, however, they do a pretty good job at hiding. This makes it difficult to spot the insects, especially during the day when they aren’t that active. Why aren't they active, you ask? Because bed bugs attempt to stay out of sight in order not to be squashed by you.

Instead of looking for a specimen, focus your efforts on pinpointing the different tell-tale signs of an infestation.

Finding any of these is a sure sign of an advanced bed bug problem.

Read more about the signs of bed bugs >

Learn how to check for bed bugs >

Although bites are one sign of bed bug presence, they sure aren’t a conclusive one. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • Some people do not experience any reaction to the bites, thus, you may decide that you don’t have bed bugs if you see no sign of bites;
  • Other insects cause itchy red bumps quite similar to the ones left by bed bugs;
  • A variety of skin conditions may also look like you’ve been bitten.

A good strategy to rule for a bug infestation would be: ensure there are bites; find a bug; check if it is actually a bed bug. You can start panicking if you've ticked "yes" on all three.

Learn the difference between dust mites and bed bugs >

Check if you have bed bugs or flea bites >

Insects that look like bed bugs

Looks can be deceiving. A number of insects appear similar to the bed bugs, so make sure to check for lookalikes before considering a treatment.

Some of the common UK household bugs that look like bed bugs include:



And more precisely, the book louse nymph looks strikingly similar to a baby bed bug. Some wingless species are often mistaken for bed bugs and vice versa. However, these scavenging insects aren’t parasites and do not feed on human blood.

Image by: S. Rae



The only reason why people mistake fleas for bed bugs is their shared appetite for blood, visually they are nothing alike. So for example, if you see a tiny insect stuck to your arm at night, you may think at first that it’s a bed bug. But their diet is where the similarities end. Fleas, unlike bed bugs, aren’t parasitic to humans, they may bite you a couple of times, but their long-term hosts are animals.

<h3>Bat bugs</h3>

Bat bugs

On the contrary, bat bugs are almost identical to bed bugs and the only way to tell the two apart is to observe them under a microscope. Bat bug’s prime host it the bat but they will feed on other warm-blooded animals, humans included, if they wander away too far or the host is not available.

Image by: Gilles San Martin

Read more about bugs that look like bed bugs >

If you’re still unsure whether you’ve spotted a bed bug, trap the insect and show it to an experienced bed bug exterminator to get a professional opinion.

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Keep in mind that we only aim to provide some useful information about how to recognise bed bugs with bare eye and how do they look like. We cannot guarantee that the bugs you're dealing with corresponds to the same description and are exactly bed bugs. 

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