Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by Alene Schill
Bed bugs are incredibly adept at hiding, which is why you’re probably here wondering if you can spot them with the help of a black light. Can you see bed bugs with a black light?
We’ll shed some light on whether this is possible.
Can You Use Black Light To See Bed Bugs?
Yes, you can see bed bugs with UV light or black light.
Black lights are great bed bug detectors. Their exoskeletons are made from a material similar to our nails. Our nails and teeth are visible under black lights.
Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Black Light
Unfortunately, your efforts may be futile if you’re using a black light to attract a bed bug and make it come out of its hiding place.
On the contrary, bed bugs may burrow deeper into their hiding places if you shine UV on them. Bed bugs are photophobic, meaning they avoid light.
On the other hand, many insects like moths and beetles behave in the exact opposite manner — they are attracted to this type of light. Bug scientists are known to use this handy tool to coax them out of their hiding places, so they can capture and study them.
What does it mean if you find one bed bug but no others?
How To Find Bed Bugs Using Black Light
Now that you know you can locate bed bugs with the help of UV, here’s how to use it to your advantage:
Remove Your Beddings
Start by removing your bedding and putting it into a Ziploc bag. Do the same with your bedsheets or any bed cover.
Check the Corners of Your Mattresses
Shine the light on the corners of your mattress, frame, and box spring to locate bed bugs. These are potential hiding places. You want to check the piping around the sides, buttons, and seams.
A rule of thumb to remember is bed bugs prefer seams, corners, or little folds as a hiding place.
After that, check the bed frame and pay close attention to the joints and dark areas like gaps or holes in which they can lay their eggs. Do the same thing for your other bedroom furniture. A bed bug has an affinity for wooden and fabric surfaces instead of metal and plastic.
Do take note that it’s not only the live ones you’re looking for — spot bed bug eggs, shells, or other substances like droppings/feces that would confirm that you have a bed bug infestation in your bedroom.
Follow the Trail
Track the light across your mattress and furniture until you find bed bug trails. The bed bug trail, made from the debris of their blood and waste, glows under UV light and can be your guide to finding their hiding place.
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How Black Light/UV Light Tracks Bed Bugs
Using UV flashlights is a great idea to track the presence of bed bugs, especially if you’re trying to find out if you have a bed bug infestation in your home.
UV has a higher wavelength and more energy on the light spectrum than regular visible light. The naked eye is more equipped to see regular light, so UV appears dark purple to us — the highest visible light wavelength you and I can see. 
UV light interacts with phosphors, absorbing energy and releasing it as light. Phosphors can be found on bed bug shells and eggs.
Is there a special light to detect bed bugs?
Yes, you can use a UV light to detect bed bugs. UV light makes them glow by interacting with the phosphors found in their exoskeleton.
What bugs can be seen with a black light?
Many insects like scorpions and beetles can be seen with a black light. If you’d like to attract insects with UV, you’d have more luck with moths and beetles. Entomologists are known to use UV lights to coax these insects out of their habitats to study them.
Do bedbugs glow under black light?
Yes, bed bugs glow under black light. Their exoskeletons contain trace amounts of phosphors, which absorb the energy from UV lights and make them glow.
So, Can You See Bed Bugs With A Black Light?
Yes, finding bed bugs with a black light is possible.
Black and UV lights are a great tool for detecting bed bugs if you suspect that you may have an infestation in your home. Bed bug shells contain phosphors, which absorb energy from black or UV lights and make them glow.
It’s a great idea to run the light along the seams and corners of your mattress and other nooks and crannies to locate their potential hiding places. You can also use it to shine a light on their trail to help you identify their hiding place.
If you find bed bugs, it’s best to contact licensed professionals who can help you get rid of the infestation.
Alene Schill is a property manager from Columbus, Ohio, who has dealt with numerous pest control agencies. She helps families find the perfect homes and knows very well that bed bugs are an ultimate deal-breaker. She enjoys cycling around Scioto Mile during her spare time.