Can You See Bed Bugs With the Human Eye On Your Skin?

Can You See Bed Bugs With The Human Eye On Your Skin?

can you see bed bugs with naked human eye on skin
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Many books, articles and websites about bed bugs recommend searching for bed beds before you stay at a hotel or purchase a used item of furniture. Can you see bed bugs with the human eye? (Your own eyes, of course.) Bed bugs are small, but not so tiny that you can’t see them if you have normal 20/20 vision. The adults are easier to see than eggs or babies just because they are larger, measuring about 3/16 to one quarter of an inch (or five to seven millimeters) long.

Can you see bed bugs with the human eye easily? People with normal vision can see adults and sometimes babies and eggs. It can be difficult to see bed bugs on skin because they are small, and their bites do not hurt. It is much easier to see signs of bed bugs than the bugs themselves. Bites and bed bug droppings are easier to see than the insects.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs have been poetically described on Salon.com as “a drop of blood with legs.” They are small, nearly flat and oval. They are roughly shaped like a teardrop or guitar pick. They have six legs, a tiny head with two very small antennae and no wings. Well, they do have shriveled up remnants of wings, called vestigial wings. Bed bugs have not needed to fly for millennia and so their wings got smaller and smaller. You need a magnifying glass or a microscope to see the vestigial wings.
They also have short, blonde or gold hairs on their bodies, antennae and legs, but you need the eyes of Superman to see them. You might be able to see them with a good magnifying glass. You can also see them up close and personal in this creepy YouTube video made by National Geographic. Good luck getting to sleep tonight after you watch it.

What Do Bed Bug Eggs and Babies Look Like?

Bed bug eggs are so small that they are extremely difficult to see with the naked eye. They are a mere one millimeter long. They are often pearly grey all over for the first five days after the female lays them. After day five, the eggs develop two tiny black dots. These are the eyespots of the baby bed bug.

Babies look like miniscule versions of adults. They go through five molts, so you may see some strange pale flakes wherever you find bed bugs. These flakes are shed exoskeletons of the babies. When newly hatched, the babies are white with black eyespots and a black dot in the middle of their backs. They are a mere one and a half millimeters long. As they grow, they get darker and easier to see with the naked eye. You can find detailed pictures comparing babies, eggs and adults at the website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

bed bugs on human skin

Can You See Bed Bugs on Skin or In Hair?

Adults would be large enough to see in skin or hair, but chances are you will never see them in your hair or on your skin. Bed bugs do not like living on people or animals. They prefer to sneak on, grab a bite to eat and then go back home. They are the diners-and-dashers of the insect world. If you see insects resting in your hair or on you skin, the chances are high that they are lice, fleas or ticks and not bed bugs.

At first, you think that you could see bed bugs as they bite you and drink your blood. After all, a mosquito bite hurts. Bed bugs are much sneakier than mosquitoes. Their saliva contains a numbing agent that makes the bite itself painless. This means they can take their time feeding while you lay still, fast asleep. The only time you would feel the bites would be if dozens or hundreds are biting you simultaneously.

what do bed bug bites look like

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

For most people suffering from a bed bug infestation, the first signs aren’t by seeing bed bugs on skin but by seeing bed bug bites on their skin. Although the bites don’t hurt while the bed bug is feeding, hours afterwards they often feel sore and itchy. The good news is that bed bugs bites do not transmit diseases in the way tick bites or mosquito bites do. The bad news is that the bites can be so itchy that you may scratch your skin open and get infected.

The main characteristics of bed bug bites are:

  • Redness or brick-pink
  • Round or round-ish
  • Many bites often form a zig-zag on your skin or are in a straight line
  • Bites may cause bumps or hives
  • These bumps may be red or brick pink with a dark center or a pale center.

Warning about Bed Bug Bites

Just as some people are allergic to bee stings. some people are far more sensitive to bed bug bites than others. Some people can get desperately sick after a bite. Go to a hospital or call a doctor immediately if you have bites and:
  • Have problems breathing
  • Have your tongue swell up
  • Get blisters
  • Get a fever
  • Get nausea with or without vomiting
  • Have body aches as if you have the flu
  • Develop an irregular heartbeat.
blood stains are bed bug poop

What Do Bed Bug Droppings Look Like?

It’s often far easier to see bed bug poop than it is to see bed bugs. Since bed bugs only eat blood, their droppings look like dried drops or smears of blood. They could be red, rust-colored, dark brown or black. The larger and more frequent the stains, the worse the infestation. If the bed looks like someone was stabbed to death on it, check out and go to another hotel or mattress store.

When you are considering purchasing a mattress (new or used) or before you settle down to relax in a hotel room, check it for drops or smears of blood, especially along the seams, any cracks or crevices in the headboard and the box spring. If the infestation is heavy, you won’t need to check very carefully. The droppings will appear on the sheets.

where do bed bugs hide

Other Places to Look for Bed Bugs

Despite their name, bed bugs don’t just live in or on beds. They get everywhere, from other soft furniture to stuffed toys to inside your cell phone. Since they’re flat, they can fit in the most amazingly tiny cracks and crevices in your home and car. Good places to check for these insect Houdinis include:
  • Seams, crevices and the undersides of hard furniture like desks
  • Inside the crack in the screw heads on furniture
  • Inside mirror or picture frames
  • Under carpeting, especially around baseboards
  • Behind electrical outlets
  • Any tears in wallpaper

It is very easy not to be able to find bed bugs but still find other signs of them like droppings and bites. This is why you need to hire a professional exterminator to find them for you. Since bed bugs may get into walls and floors, the exterminator may use a beg bug sniffer dog, so your walls and floors suffer minimal damage.

In Conclusion

You can see bed bugs on skin with the naked eye – as long as you have normal vision. Baby bed bugs and eggs are too small to be easily seen. Seeing bed bugs on skin is rare since they do not like to live on people or animals. It is much easier to see bed bug bites and their droppings than it is to see the bugs.
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