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What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs are far more than just a nuisance. These tiny bloodsuckers can leave you with red, itchy bumps all over your body affecting your sleep, health and peace of mind. Early and accurate identification can help avoid a widespread infestation, saving you time and money by avoiding a comprehensive bed bug treatment. In New Zealand, the common types of bed bugs are Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, both of which can be found in homes, apartments, hotels, motels, schools, offices, backpackers, and more.

So what do bed bugs look like? Bed bugs typically have the following characteristics that make them easy to identify:

Bed bug size: Nymphs or young bed bugs are 1.5-4.5 mm long. Adult bed bugs, on the other hand, are 5-7 mm in length. That’s more or less the size of an apple seed.

Bed bug colour: Unfed mature bed bugs have a rusty brown colour. After feeding, they appear red-brown. As for the nymphs, they are usually translucent or whitish-yellow. Unfed nymphs are sometimes not easy to spot with the naked eye.

Bed bug shape: Adult bed bugs have a flat, oval-shaped body. Nymphs look like smaller versions of adult ones.

Bed bug life cycle

Bed bugs grow and develop in a process known as incomplete metamorphosis. Unlike other insects that evolve in four stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult), bed bug eggs hatch and the nymph goes through different stages before maturing.


After mating, bed bugs can lay one to five pearl-white eggs each day. Well, a healthy female bug can lay up to 500 eggs in her life span. Each egg is approximately 1 mm long, which is about the size of a pinhead or two grains of salt. The bed bugs are quite strategic, as they lay eggs into tight cracks and crevices.


Eggs hatch into nymphs in 6 to 10 days. Newly hatched bugs pass through 5 moulting stages before they mature. The bed bug colour gets darker with each moult. Another thing worth mentioning is that nymphs need to feed on blood at least once in each stage.

Size of nymphs in the five moulting stages

Stage 1: nymphs (1.5 mm)

Stage 2: nymphs (2 mm)

Stage 3: nymphs (2.5 mm)

Stage 4: nymphs (3 mm)

Stage 5: nymphs (4.5 mm)

During these stages, the bed bugs shed the outer exoskeleton. Generally, nymphs can complete moulting within 5 to 6 weeks under normal circumstances.


After bed bugs moult five times, they become sexually mature. They have a rusty brown colour, thanks to the blood they’ve been digesting. Adult bugs will feed approximately once every 5 to 10 days.

What's the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs?

Many people in Auckland often try DIY approaches such as bug ‘bombs’ for bed bug treatments. However, bedbugs are very resilient to these treatments. Then by the time you get around to booking a professional bed bug pest technician, the problem will have gotten much worse. These tiny bugs are extremely difficult to eliminate because they hide in a variety of hard-to-find places and multiply quickly. They can also stay dormant without a food source for months.

We highly recommend calling in a local pest control company in with experience in bed bug treatment. They will also be able to determine you if you have bed bugs or fleas.

At A-Jet Pest Control we specialize in getting rid of bedbugs. We use proven specialised pest control methods and techniques including an effective non-chemical treatment on your bed and soft furnishing plus a residual treatment around the room. We will also install special ‘buglock’ mattress and base encasements.

By working with us we can save you time, money and itchy bites while giving you professional advice to avoid future infestation. Give us a call today to book in a treatment or if you have any questions about bedbugs or our treatment methods, we’re here to help!

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