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Every day, we get calls from people with questions about bed bugs. Most people know what they are, but we also field questions like:

What do bed bugs look like?
Where do bed bugs come from?
How do I know if I have bed bugs in my house?

These questions need a little more clarification, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned over my 20+ year pest control career.

Let’s start with the basics.

What do bed bugs look like?

Pictures of bed bugs are readily available on the Internet, and I encourage everyone to become familiar with them. However, sometimes it can be difficult to discern their size from a photo.

Adult bed bugs are round, somewhat flat, and roughly the size and color of a pencil eraser. Hatchlings and juveniles are much smaller and are often appear grey.

Bed bugs develop through a process of metamorphosis: once they hatch from an egg, young nymphs will grow and periodically shed their skins. Except for size, most nymph stages are similar in appearance to the adult bed bug. (The shed skins can also help to identify a bed bug infestation, but we’ll get there in a moment.)

Like cockroaches, bed bugs live in small groups. You will most likely encounter them in the folds of mattresses, in corners of furniture, or even in electrical outlets. Bed bugs move slowly when compared to roaches or spiders, so if you see a bug zip across the floor, it’s probably not one of these unpleasant critters.

Where do bed bugs come from?

It’s important to know what they look like because bed bugs are, unfortunately, both common and irksome. They’re found in hotels, assisted living facilities, retail stores, and movie theatres…just to name a few. Most regions of the U.S. now have bed bugs, and they are known to the scientific world to be resistant to many pesticides. Regrettably, these pests can be tough to control.

As resilient as bed bugs are, though, they cannot survive outdoors. They are strictly indoor bugs that travel from one place to another on personal items. If you find bed bugs in your home, it’s because they hitched a ride on someone or something. They did not come in from outdoors.

Once established inside a building, bed bugs can move from one room to another or apartment to apartment. Since bed bugs typically travel only a few feet from their nests, movement of that magnitude generally occurs only after populations have become so large that food and shelter become scarce. They’ll sometimes travel through small cracks in the walls, but are also known to use electrical outlets.

How do I know if I have bed bugs in my house?

Don’t expect to feel bed bugs bite you, as they inject an anesthetic into the bite to numb the site. (A silver lining, I suppose?)

If you have bed bugs in your home, the first thing you’re likely to notice is small bloodstains on your sheets. Bed bugs are soft-bodied and easily crushed when their host (you) moves in their sleep.

If you spot these hallmarks, look closely at your mattress and other areas around your bed for additional stains in the folds of your mattress—or even small groups of bed bugs themselves. Clusters of bed bugs may number a dozen or more.

Because bed bugs are nocturnal, they can sometimes be seen crawling around on your bed at night…gross, I know.

Bed bugs are becoming increasingly common in communities everywhere. Chances are, your family is likely to encounter them at some point. Do your part to become familiar with them and respond quickly if you think you may have an infestation.

Bed bugs are much easier to get rid of when they’re restricted to one room of your home, rather than after they spread to the entire house. Treatment options range from one room for a few hundred dollars to tent fumigations costing several thousand dollars.

The first step to solving a problem is to identify it. If you need help and you live in east central Florida, please contact Universal Pest Control. We can be reached online at or by calling (386) 673-1557.


Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.

Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control