What Do Baby Bed Bugs Look Like? (Pictures & FAQs)

After hatching from eggs and before reaching adulthood, baby bed bugs go through several intermediary development stages known as instars. During each instar stage, the baby bed bug molts and grows larger in size until they become fully-grown adults.

In this article, we’ll discuss what baby bed bugs look like and answer some frequently-asked questions about them.

Baby Bed Bugs

Baby bed bugs are commonly referred to in the field as “nymphs,” a term used to describe the immature form of many insects.

The term “instar” is used to describe the multiple stages of development that baby bed bugs, or nymphs, go through before reaching their adult forms. After each stage, they molt and leave behind opaque, whitish-yellow shell casings — one of the warning signs of bed bugs.

Bed bug nymphs in any of the five instar stages are smaller than adult bed bugs but big enough to be seen by the naked eye. They’re usually found near bed bug harborage areas in moderate to severe infestations.

Discovering a baby bed bug in your home can be a cause for concern, as it points to an infestation that has progressed to the point where bed bugs have become established and have started reproducing.

However, they’re not easy to identify — at least to an untrained observer. It’s easy to mistake the nymphal forms of other insects for baby bed bugs.

If you think that you’ve seen a baby bed bug in your home, we recommend sending a picture or specimen to your local pest control professional to rule out other types of pests. At MMPC, we offer a free online pest ID service where you can send photos for identification.

What Do Baby Bed Bugs Look Like?

For the most part, bed bug nymphs look like miniaturized versions of adult bed bugs. They have flat bodies with 2 thin antennae, 6 legs, and a large, oval-shaped abdomen.

The main differences are that they’re smaller in size, lighter in color, and their antennae seem slightly longer in proportion to the rest of their bodies.

How Small Are They?

Right after it hatches, a baby bed bug in the 1st instar stage measures approximately 1.5 mm in length — slightly smaller than the thickness of a quarter.

After each molt, it increases in length by approximately 0.5 to 1 mm. Baby bed bugs are around 2 mm long in the 2nd instar stage, 2.5 mm long in the 3rd instar stage, 3 mm long in the 4th instar stage, and 4 mm long in the 5th instar stage.

What Color Are They?

Baby bed bugs are typically off-white or yellow in color depending on the instar stage. Their bodies are lightest and most translucent in the 1st instar stage, and gradually darken over time.

When they reach adulthood, their bodies take on the familiar reddish-brown hue that most people associate with bed bugs.

One thing to note is that baby bed bugs also feed on blood. The digested blood after a meal can be easily seen as a dark mark within their translucent bodies.

Pictures of Baby Bed Bugs

Life cycle stages of bed bugs. (Source: Changlu Wang, Rutgers)
Immature bed bug nymphs next to an adult bed bug. (Source: University of Arizona Extension)
Baby bed bug emerging from a bed bug egg. (Source: University of Nebraska Extension)
Bed bug instar after molting. (Source: University of Nebraska Extension)
2nd instar bed bug before and after feeding. (Source: University of Minnesota Extension)

Baby Bed Bug FAQs

Are Baby Bed Bugs Visible? Can You See Them?

Bed bug nymphs are visible to the naked eye, although they’re difficult to spot unless you’re looking very carefully.

In terms of size, a baby bed bug typically measures between 1.5 to 4 millimeters long. On the smaller end, it’s about the thickness of a quarter. On the larger end, it’s about the size of a flaxseed. You don’t need a microscope to see it, but you might need to squint a bit.

In addition to being tiny, baby bed bugs also have translucent, colorless bodies that can be difficult to distinguish against light surfaces such as bedsheets and mattress seams.

Do Baby Bed Bugs Bite?

Yes, baby bed bugs can bite. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, “newly emerged nymphs seek a blood meal,” which is necessary for them to survive and grow.

You can see a photo of a bed bug nymph biting and feeding on a person’s skin in the images above.

How Do You Get Rid of Them?

There’s no special method to get rid of bed bug nymphs — any treatment that kills adult bed bugs will also be effective at killing baby bed bugs.

However, bed bug eggs are slightly different. They have a higher resistance against chemicals, heat, and cold which allows them to sometimes survive certain types of bed bug treatments.

If an exterminator sprayed your home for bed bugs, there’s a chance that some eggs may survive and then later hatch into new baby bed bugs. That’s why some people might still see some baby bed bugs even after their home has been treated.

To prevent this from happening, most bed bug exterminators recommend a second follow-up visit after 14 days to kill any newly-hatched nymphs before they can repopulate.

Get Help with Bed Bugs from MMPC

If you live in New York City and have concerns about bed bugs, contact MMPC today.

Whether you need a NESDCA-certified canine inspection to locate the presence of suspected bed bugs in your home, or a team of qualified and experienced exterminators to get rid of a bed bug infestation for good, you can count us to get the job done quickly, reliably, and discreetly.

MMPC is one of NYC’s highest-rated pest control companies specializing in bed bug inspection and extermination services. Give us a call at (212) 219-8218 or contact us if you have any questions concerning bed bugs.