What Do Bed Bugs Look Like on a Mattress?

Bed Bugs can be annoying pests that wreak havoc on you, your family, and your home. They are parasitic little bugs that like to feed on animal and human blood at nighttime when everyone is sleeping. They’re almost like little vampires.

Let’s take a look at what bed bugs look like on a mattress, how to find them, and how you can kick them out of your home for good.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs are about the size of an apple or orange seed (less than ¼ inch) and have brown and red hues. The oval-shaped bugs are flightless and have flat bodies, making it easy for them to sneak into cracks and crevices. 

The larvae of bed bugs look much different, with translucent or white bodies, and they are much smaller than adults. The eggs are even tinier and typically have a white coloring.  

What Are the Early Signs of Bed Bugs?


If you’re worried you might have a bed bug infestation, you should look for the following signs in your home.

You See Bites on Your Skin

Waking up with bites is a telltale sign that bed bugs might be lurking in your mattress. Bed bug bites typically look like little red, raised bumps and usually appear in a zig-zag formation. They can look similar to flea or mosquito bites. You can find them anywhere on your body, and you might feel burning or itchy sensations. 

Bed bugs can carry 27 diseases, so you need to get them out of your home as soon as possible.

The bites will disappear in a week or two, but you should clean them often to prevent infection. An anti-itch cream can help with the itchiness.

You Notice a New Musty Smell In Your Home

Bed bugs can be quite stinky. They tend to have a musty smell that’s close to an old attic or basement smell. If this is a new smell in your home, you might want to start looking around to see if bed bugs made their way in.

You Physically See the Bed Bugs or Their Skins

If you see bed bugs roaming around in your home and on your mattress, this is an obvious sign that you have an infestation. Another thing to look out for is the molted skins the bugs can leave behind. That’s another sign that they are lurking around.

There Are Blood Stains on your Sheets

Bed bugs can cause slight bleeding because they break the skin and feed on blood. If you see small blood stains on your sheets, it could be from bed bug bites. Start looking around for the bugs if you suddenly see unexpected blood stains.

You See Specks on Your Sheets

If you see little specks on your sheets, bed bug droppings might be the culprit. Dirt, debris, and other things can also be an explanation. However, if you see a lot of black specks, it is most likely droppings.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread?


Bed bugs can travel through people. They can latch onto clothing, furniture, and bags. So, it’s easy to pick them up if you don’t know they’re around. After they get to their destination, they’ll typically reproduce and cause an infestation.

Can You Bring Bed Bugs Home?

Yes, you can bring them home from wherever you travel. This can include hotels, other people’s houses, and even other people’s clothing. They can latch onto you, and you’ll end up bringing them home.

Where Do They Like to Hide?

Bed bugs like dark places, so they’ll hide anywhere the sun or light doesn’t reach. You can find them in the following:

  • Drawers
  • Under the mattress
  • Electrical outlets
  • In between couch cushions
  • Curtains
  • And more

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like on a Mattress? How Do You Check Your Mattress?

Bed bugs on a mattress will look like little brown dots, and they typically swarm at the corners under the sheet. However, you might find a few strays walking around on the sheets. You might also notice rusty-looking stains on the mattress from crushing them when you lay on the mattress.

To check your mattress for bed bugs, do the following:

  • Check for rusty or red-looking stains on the mattress
  • Check for eggs and skin casings
  • Check for live bed bugs
  • Check the seams and the corners of your mattress, as they like to hang out in these places

What Should You Do if You Find Bed Bugs? How Do You Get Rid of Them?

If you do find evidence of bed bugs in your home, here are some things you should do right away.

1. Find Where the Bed Bugs Are Living

If you suspect your mattress has bed bugs, start examining every crack and crevice you can find. Even if you don’t necessarily see obvious signs on your bed, you should look around your entire bedroom. You should especially check any luggage if you traveled recently to see if they followed you home.

2. Clean Out the Room

You need to clean out your room completely. Get rid of any clutter and piles of clothing you have on your floors because bed bugs like to hide in dark areas. Inspect everything you take out of the room as well to ensure there aren’t any bed bugs clinging on. Put the clean items somewhere safe away from the infested room.

3. Wash All Fabrics at a High Temperature

Strip your bed of all sheets and blankets, gather your clothes, and throw everything into the washing machine. Use the highest heat setting you have to ensure you kill all of the bed bugs. Using a sanitizing cycle is ideal if you have that option. Use laundry sanitizer for extra precaution.  You should dry everything on the highest setting as well.

4. Start Using a Mattress Protector

Buy a mattress cover and use it. They can help block and prevent bed bugs from getting to your mattress. Mattress covers can also seal any remaining bed bugs you may have missed inside, ultimately killing them. Covers are great at protecting your mattress from spills and stains as well, allowing your mattress to last longer.

How To Wash a Mattress Protector?

Many mattress protectors are fabric, so you can easily wash them in your washing machine. You’ll usually just need to use a mild detergent and whatever cycle the washing instructions tag suggests.

5. Use Bed Bug Interceptors 

Buy some bed bug interceptors. They are plastic cup-like devices that you put under the legs of your bed frame. The bed bugs will climb over the edge of the cups and fall inside where the material is too slippery for them to escape. They can’t crawl out and eventually die.

6. Use Sticky Traps

Sticky traps are glue traps that capture the bed bugs and prevent them from moving. You should place them under and around any furniture to trap them in their travels before they reach you. When the traps start to fill up, you can simply throw them in the garbage. Most traps are non-toxic, so they are safe to use around kids and pets.

7. Use Insecticides

Insecticide sprays that contain pyrethrins and pyrethroids work well at killing bed bugs, and you can usually find them in stores. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids come from chrysanthemum flowers, which are toxic to bugs. However, they have low toxicity to humans and animals.

8. Use Biopesticides

If you’d rather stay away from insecticides altogether, you can use biopesticides, which are all-natural. Some great options include the following.

Neem Oil

Products containing neem oil are effective at killing bed bugs. Neem oil comes from the neem tree, which is in the mahogany family. It’s a tree commonly used for medicinal and natural pesticidal purposes. You can usually find natural sprays at your local hardware store containing neem oil.


Citrus fruits like lemons are natural enemies of bed bugs. They hate the scent and will typically stay away from areas that have a citrus aroma. You can combine some water and lemon juice to create this natural repellent at home.


Cinnamon is another scent that drives bed bugs crazy. Spraying any cinnamon-based products on furniture legs and areas where bed bugs congregate will encourage them to leave.


Lavender oil is a natural repellent that works on most bugs. You can mix it with some water and spray it in your home to scare off bed bugs.

Baking Soda

While there isn’t solid scientific evidence that sprinkling baking soda on your mattress can kill bed bugs, it’s still worth a shot. Many believe that putting baking soda on your mattress will help dehydrate bed bugs due to the baking soda’s ability to absorb moisture, causing the bugs to die. 

Baking soda is great for absorbing odors as well, so at least your mattress won’t stink if this method doesn’t work for you.

Wrapping Things Up

So, what do bed bugs look like on a mattress, and how can you get rid of them? Well, keep the following information in mind:

  • Bed bugs look like oval-shaped red and brown seeds. Their larvae and eggs are usually translucent and hard to see.
  • They can leave rusty-looking stains and black droppings behind.
  • If you think you have an infestation, look for bites, the bed bugs themselves, and clean everything. Use traps and repellents to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Now that you know what bed bugs look like, get searching! Keep an eye out for these little parasites if you think you came into contact with them, and use the above measures to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back.

If the above methods don’t work completely, be sure to contact a local exterminator for help.