Are Bed Bugs Long and Skinny? Answered (Updated)

Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Alene Schill

It is possible that your home is infested with bugs, however it is crucial to identify the type of bug before taking any action to address the infestation. This will help determine the most effective solution.

You might even mistake bat bugs, booklice, spider beetles, and fleas for bed bugs.

Our team researched and created an in-depth guide to help you answer the question, “are bed bugs long and skinny?”

Are Bed Bugs Usually Long and Skinny?

lifelike 3D of a bedbug

Bed bugs are tiny, about a size of an apple seed, and may appear long and skinny [1].

They are usually flat before feeding, making it much easier to hide in crevices and cracks on the wall or furniture. 

However, bed bugs change in size once they have already eaten. They transition from being long and skinny (or almost flat in shape) to being round. But what do dead bed bugs really look like?

How Long Are They?

Bed bugs are about 3/16 – ¼ inches long (or about 5 to 7 mm), making them almost invisible to the naked eye. However, they are noticeable due to their unlikely smell and the fact that they leave fecal spots on the bedding. 

You might spot them even without a magnifying glass if you have good eyesight and know what they look like. 

In addition, bed bugs have five stages of growth or lifecycle. During their first stage, they are about 1.5 mm long, 2 mm in the second stage, 2.5 mm long in the third stage, and 3 mm in the fourth stage. 

In the last stage of their life cycle, they can be 4.5 mm long.

Are Bed Bugs Always Skinny?

No, bed bugs are not always skinny. They are usually skinny before feeding on their hosts, but their body becomes plump, elongated, and balloon-like after feeding. 

Bed bug nymphs may also change colors and turn into raspberry color, while adult bed bugs become reddish-brown, and their bodies become more elongated. But can you really see bed bugs with the naked eye?

Comparing Its Size And Shape With Other Bugs

different kinds of bugs

Sometimes, other bugs are mistakenly identified as bed bugs and vice versa. Bed bugs look the same as other bugs. However, they are not one. 

For instance, bat bugs are closely similar to bed bugs. 

They are both about a size of an apple seed and share the same characteristics except for longer hairs on a bat bug’s head.

Fleas are also often mistaken as bed bugs. However, you can identify the fleas apart from bed bugs because they have longer legs and round heads, making them bigger than bed bugs. 

They are about eight of an inch long and can cause more serious itching than bed bugs.


What do bed bugs look like to the human eye?

Bed bugs are about the size of the seed of an apple and are reddish-brown [2]. They are flat and skinny before eating and swell up or become elongated after consuming their blood meal. Adult bed bugs are also easier to spot compared to nymphs. 

Are bed bugs long or round?

Bed bugs can both be long and round, depending on the life cycle stage they are currently in. Bed bugs are usually flat, round, and hardly visible, especially the nymphs, but they become elongated after feeding. 


Bed bugs change in shape and color depending on what stage they are in their life cycle. They often change in color in the 4th to the 5th stage of their life cycle, and they start to be more elongated too. 

As it turns out, the change in a bed bug’s shape and color is actually an indication of what stage they are currently in, and it is often an indication of whether they already had their blood meal or not.

If you suspect that you have a bed bug infestation at home, do not think twice and contact a professional exterminator so you can proactively deal with your problem before it gets worse.



Leave a Comment