04/05/2012 09:48 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2012

Identifying Bedbugs 101

It's no secret that bedbugs are running rampant throughout colleges, homes, offices, and hotels across the country. These pesky creatures have worked their way into the cracks and crevices of our beds, offices, and cars and spread like wildfire. Staying educated on preventive measures can help you minimize your risk of bringing home a bedbug. If you happen to find a strange bite on your body or an interesting-looking insect in your home, searching the internet for pictures might not be the best way to identify a bedbug.

First, it's important to understand that a simple visual inspection of your home or office is not always going to result in finding a bedbug. You might need to do some further digging around to find out if your home, office, or current place of residence is infested. Generally, bedbugs are oval in shape and unless they have started feeding, it's very easy to miss one on your mattress, in your closet, or in a drawer. Additionally, the insect's color varies throughout its life, from the egg stage of development to a full-grown, adult bedbug.

Here's a quick overview of the different stages in a bedbug's life:

  • Immature bedbugs are known as nymphs. They closely resemble adults, but are smaller and lack the deep reddish-brown color found in the adult bedbug.
  • Adult bedbugs are about a quarter-inch long, oval, reddish brown, and wingless. Their body is flat, and they possess long, slender legs and an antenna. They also have a long, segmented beak which they use for their blood meal. While a bedbug is at rest, the beak lies beneath the body and projects backwards between the legs.
  • Female bedbugs are capable of laying about 500 eggs in their lifetime under optimal temperature and blood meal conditions.

Now that you understand the different stages of a bedbug's life, it's time to grab a magnifying glass and ask yourself these questions if you think you just discovered one:

  1. Is the bug yellowish-white or reddish-brown in color?
  2. Is the bug wingless?
  3. Is the bug flat with obvious folds on its body?
  4. Do you see any dark spots in the middle or bottom of the bug that might be blood?
  5. Does the bug have six legs and a short, thick antenna?
  6. Does the bug have small, dark, and protruding eyes?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might indeed have bedbugs. After identifying the insect you found as a bedbug, you might want to inspect your bedroom or office for black tracks -- a bedbug's waste -- on your bedding, mattress, and box spring. It's also important to look under any chairs or cabinets that you might have around your office area.

Even if you've gone through your whole house with a magnifying glass and a fine-toothed comb and found nothing, it's always best to consult with a professional pest control company. A good place to start would be a bedbug canine inspection to pinpoint exactly where the bedbugs are finding harborage.

In the meantime, I always recommend taking preventive steps around your home, office, dorm, and automobile so that you minimize your risk of bringing home a bedbug. If you are going to use a do-it-yourself product to create a bedbug barrier around your home or office, always read labels prior to application. I recommend Pronto Plus, an over-the-counter bedbug spray that kills bedbugs and their eggs on contact. It's important to spray your bed, pocketbook, briefcase, office, and car to kill bedbugs and prevent the spread of them throughout your home!

Remember, education is the key to staying bedbug-free!

For more information, feel free to find me on Twitter @GotchaBedBugs and on

* Michael Colongione is a spokesperson for Pronto Plus, manufactured by Insight Pharmaceuticals. The advice and opinions he expresses in this article are his own.

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