Adult bed bugs are about ¼ inch long, broadly oval, reddish-brown, with small wings that look like small pads. They do not fly. Their body is very flat, and they possess long, slender legs and antennae. They have a long, segmented proboscis (beak) that extends forward when it is feeding. Immature bed bugs are known either as “larvae” or “nymphs.” They closely resemble adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Other insects like ticks, are often mistaken for bed bugs and accurate identification is vital.
Bed bugs are extraordinarily resilient and can live for up to 260 days without feeding. An adult female will lay from 2-5 eggs after a blood meal and can lay more than 200 eggs in her life. They are a hardy pest, able to survive temperature extremes from below freezing to 113 degrees. Bed bugs are resistant to many pesticides and it is important to seek professional help.
The egg is quite small—about the size of a pin head and whitish in color. They are usually laid on a rough surface but in large infestations may be laid anywhere, including on clothing and other items of clutter.
Bed bugs feed while their host is at rest, usually at night. They might also feed in a dark area such as an infested movie theater while you are a relaxing watching a movie. They use their piercing beak to engorge themselves with blood. They can complete a meal in 3-10 minutes and the victim usually is unaware that they have been bitten. The bite is not painful.
If you are susceptible, an allergic reaction may occur at the bite site causing flat, red welts to appear, usually in a line. This rash like reaction may be intensely itchy and is sometimes the first sign that a bed bug infestation has occurred.
For more information on evidence of bed bugs and how you can avoid an infestation, check out our page on Bed Bug Treatments.