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Do Bed Bugs Have Stripes?

The first step to getting rid of bed bugs is confirming you have an infestation. 

And to be sure that what you’re seeing are bed bugs, you need to know how to identify them. 

So, is the striped bug crawling around your mattress a bed bug?

Well, bed bugs do not have colored stripes, but they do have creases along their back that could look like stripes. Furthermore, bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and usually flat. They also have a black area inside their abdomen. 

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Close-up photo of two bed bugs on corrugated recycled paper.

Bed bugs are pretty small insects, about the size of an apple seed. 

They are also primarily brown, but most of the center of their abdomen is black. 

Additionally, bed bugs have creases along their back that can kind of look like stripes. 

However, these stripes typically aren’t a different color from the rest of the bug. 

Yet, they could be a slightly darker brown or a lightish black, depending on the species. 

Another way to identify bed bugs is by the short, golden hairs on their body, but these may be hard to see because they’re so small. 

As for their body shape, bed bugs have an oval-shaped abdomen that comes to a slight point at their rear. 

If they have just fed, though, they could have a long, almost cylinder-shaped body. 

You’ll also notice that a bed bug has no wings, six legs, and two antennas on its head. 

Young bed bugs will look almost the same, except their bodies will be more translucent rather than brown. 

Insects Often Mistaken for Bed Bugs 

Since there are plenty of insects about the same size and shape as bed bugs, it can be difficult to tell if what you’re seeing is indeed a bed bug. 

Yet, when you can distinguish between bed bugs and similar insects, identifying them becomes a lot easier. 

1) Carpet Beetles 

There are several different kinds of carpet beetles, and they can look quite different from each other. 

However, carpet beetles almost all have a distinctive beetle look with a hard shell and wings. 

The most common carpet beetle, which you can find throughout the world, is the Anthrenus scrophulariae. 

This tiny bug has a similar body shape to a ladybug but is primarily black with either white or white and red splotches. 

2) Booklice

Booklice are so small that it’s easy not to notice them. 

However, with the naked eye, they appear as light brown, almost tan bugs with a head that’s very distinct from its body. 

They look like minuscule light-colored ants. 

3) Cockroach Nymphs 

A cockroach nymph is a baby cockroach. 

And these bugs look like adult cockroaches, only smaller. 

But, people often confuse cockroach nymphs with bed bugs because of their similar brown color and creases. 

The best way to distinguish between a bed bug and a cockroach nymph is by looking at the antennas. 

Cockroaches have long antennas that are almost as long as their bodies. 

Conversely, bed bug antennas are pretty short and aren’t very noticeable. 

4) Fleas 

Fleas are another small creature that feeds on blood, just like bed bugs. 

You can tell the difference between fleas and bed bugs, though, mostly from their body shape and size. 

Fleas are quite tiny, only about ⅛ of an inch. 

Bed bugs, on the other hand, are twice as big at ¼ of an inch. 

Also, fleas have a thin body type, whereas bed bugs look a bit more hippy, especially if they haven’t eaten in a while. 

Furthermore, fleas appear lighter at the bottom of their bodies, while bed bugs are usually a lighter color near their heads. 

5) Ticks 

You can identify ticks by their sunflower seed-shaped body and the teeny tiny head at their front end. 

Bed bugs, conversely, have a much larger head. 

Bed bugs also have distinct crevices across their bodies, while ticks are smooth even though they may have colored patterns or a hood-like design on the tops of their backs. 

Additionally, you can immediately identify a tick if its head is in your skin and it’s hard to pull off. 

Bed bugs do not latch on to people in this way. 

They instead feed through a little beak that pierces the skin, similar to a mosquito. 

What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like?

Insect eggs on a trunk of a tree.

Bed bug eggs are small, white ovals, and you can usually find them clustered together. 

You’ll probably also see the hollow shells of old eggs sacks, which have already hatched. 

Now, the difficulty with identifying bed bug eggs is that they look almost exactly the same as many other species of insects. 

Thus, the best way to tell if what you have found are bed bug eggs is by where they are. 

If you find the eggs on or near your mattress, there’s a good chance they are bed bug eggs. 

Bed bugs are one of the few insects that will choose to leave their eggs on or around a mattress. 

Most other bugs will lay their eggs far from where humans frequent so that you won’t find them. 

However, since bed bugs feed on people, they want to stay close to you, which is why they prefer to live near your bed. 

Other Signs of Bed Bugs 

Besides seeing the actual bugs or their eggs, there are a few other ways you can tell if you have a bed bug infestation. 

Common signs of bed bugs include: 

  • Dark spots on or around your mattress
  • Bed bug exoskeletons 
  • Blood stains on your mattress, sheets, or blankets
  • Bed bug bites 
  • A musty odor on or near your bed

If you suspect you have bed bugs, you should start getting rid of them as soon as possible. 


So, in conclusion, bed bugs do have crevices that resemble stripes. 

You can also identify them by their flat, oval-shaped bodies that are darker near the center. 

Or, if you don’t see the actual bugs but suspect they are in your home, you can look for signs of their eggs and excrement to determine if you do indeed have bed bugs.