New photos of bed bug nymphs feeding

by nobugsonme on August 21, 2010 · 21 comments

in bed bug bites, bed bug photos, bed bugs

Lou Sorkin has some interesting new close-up photos of first instar bed bug nymphs feeding on his hand.

If you look closely, you can see one of the bed bugs before and after it feeds.


Feeding - Before

Lou’s description of this photo:

First instar nymphs feeding. Some bugs are almost full and ready to leave. On the right is a group of 3 nymphs, the one in the center has not yet begun to feed. It is very pale colored. The light colored raised areas on the left side of the hand have resulted from bed bug feeding within the last hour. These marks will disappear and within a few hours only a red mark pinpointing the bite site will remain. Bite reactions vary from person to person. The red area below the feeding bed bugs is a nevus, a birthmark.


Feeding - After

Lou’s description here reads:

On the right is a group of 3 nymphs, the one in the center has begun to feed and it is now red (blood shows through its pale skin) and partially full of blood.

Update (8/23): Lou has provided an additional photo of his bite reactions (described in the comments that follow this post):

Bed bug bites visible hours after feeding

Lou writes, describing this photo,

Bed bugs will crawl along hairs and crawl down to skin surface to feed. Hours after bed bug feeding, red marks appear at site of each bite. Welts had preceded the red marks but first disappear. Red marks severity lessens with age and in a week are gone. Microscopic brownish areas remain but are very difficult to clearly see.

It’s important to remember that people react differently to bed bug bites (and even to bites at different times or on different parts of their bodies). Your experience may be quite different from Lou’s.

Note: you can click any of the photos above to go to Lou’s flickr photo page, and view them in more detail.

(Photos used with permission of Dr. L. Sorkin, All Rights Reserved.)

Thanks to Lou Sorkin for sharing his knowledge and photos of bed bugs so generously with all of us!

1 Ci Lecto August 22, 2010 at 8:43 am

> Thanks to Lou Sorkin for sharing his knowledge and photos of bed bugs so generously with all of us!

…not to mention, and his blood and skin.

2 diebbsdie August 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Ok, so nymph bites do cause different reactions than full grown bed bug bites?

I thought the consensus was that they cause the same reaction?

Thanks, Mr. Sorkin!

3 nobugsonme August 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Hi diebbsdie,

I am not sure how you’re reading Lou’s remarks, but I understand him to be describing his bed bug bite reactions. (In other words, he’s describing how long bed bug bites stay with him. Your experience may vary.) Maybe Lou can confirm?

The consensus is that you can’t tell nymph bites from adult bed bug bites. Bites vary on a single person, at a single time, from different stages of bed bug, on different days, and so on and so on.

4 nobugsonme August 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Above all else, his blood. And time.

5 Lou Sorkin August 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm

What I described was my reaction to bites from bed bugs, these were from young nymphs, at least first instar nymphs. First picture shows mostly plump nymphs at more or less different stages of engorging on blood, but one nymph was just put there and hadn’t yet begun to feed. The second picture shows that pale nymph now having fed a minute or so and you see that it has a little blood inside of it and because of this it is more visible against my skin. The pale, blanched areas on the left side of my hand in both pictures are welts that resulted from having been bitten – the bugs are no longer present. Within an hour the welts are gone and nothing remains of those bites; however, within a few more hours a red mark is visible at the bite site and this would be where the stylet fascicle (2 mandibular, 2 maxillary stylets connected at their midlines to form one unit) penetrates the skin. The red marks last for days, and lessen in brightness over that period of time. I really don’t itch from the bites. I’ll look for a good image of the red marks and also upload it.

6 nobugsonme August 23, 2010 at 12:34 am

Lou has directed me to the image and has given me permission to add it to the post.

Thanks, Lou!

7 Tony August 23, 2010 at 1:29 am


What are your reactions to mosquito bites?
Do you itch from them?
Do they look similiar (on you) as bed bug bites?

8 Lou Sorkin August 23, 2010 at 3:33 am

Good question and one I get often. Mosquito bites leave me with raised welts and somewhat circular in shape. Extremely itchy. Usually people think that because you have a reaction to one kind of insect bite, you will have the same reaction to all insect bites, but not so.

9 Tony August 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Are you in NY?

What are the chances we can meet up and you have a bed bug bite me so I can see the reaction I get?

I think there could be a market for that…maybe charge people 5 a session.
Because Im sure there are ALOT of people who wonder what kind of reaction they would get =)

10 diebbsdie August 23, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Hi Lou,
Thanks so much!
Is this how you always react to bites usually? From nymphs to adults?

I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to have a reaction that becomes less severe over time. I’m worried I have them again based on odd little bumps I’ve been noticing, that don’t itch like they did when I first had them. I’m hoping that’s a sign that I don’t have them again, since they’re not super itchy and big like they usually are on me!


11 Lou Sorkin August 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Tony, diebbsdie,
I’ve had people do that: have a bed bug feed to see how the reaction is. Today I was interviewed from a TV news show (Russian TV in NY) and the interviewer said that she’d like to try, so placed a first instar nymph, 3rd or 4th instar nymph and adult on her. Her cameraman taped it. She had no reaction (yet). If this is her first feeding, it’s possible there might be no reaction at all. She may definitely react with another feeding, although I know a few people who have fed many bugs and display absolutely no reaction at all. My reactions to bed bug bites have lessened over the years, too. I’ve fed all nymph stages and adults and have not seem any real difference in the reactions on my skin.

12 bb_gave_me_ocd August 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

Thanks so much for everything you do, Lou!

13 dead bub bugs August 29, 2010 at 5:52 am

Great photos I tried the same thing with adult bugs just to see what my reaction would be and had very little reaction at all.

14 Lou Sorkin August 29, 2010 at 9:18 pm

dead bub bugs,
Have you fed many (either by virtue of having an infestation or just feeding them) or were these a recent dinner guest?

15 Red Angel October 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Please help! I am getting ready to move out of my bb invested place to a new home. I think I can pull it off except for one detail. What if there are instar nymphs still clinging to my body? I find a few every day and scrape them off. But I can’t see every part of my body, and some may make the move with me to my new place even if I shower and scrub and put on new clothes at another place before going to my new home. What can I do to make sure I get ALL of them off of my body? I’m desperate! Please let me know as soon as possible. Thank you.

16 nobugsonme October 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Red Angel,

Bed bugs do not typically stay on your skin. They aren’t designed to live on your skin. They climb onto people, feed for ten minutes or so, and walk away.

They may “hitchhike” in clothing or bags or other items, but a shower and a change of clothing right before you go out the door should be all that’s needed. Make sure the clothing you change into is washed and dried on hot, or simply dried (starting with dry clothing) on hot, and then sealed into a bag until you wear it. This prevents there from being live bed bugs or eggs in the outfit you put on.

If you have something living on your skin which needs to be scraped off, this does not sound like bed bugs. Have you had your pest positively identified?

17 Red Angel October 5, 2010 at 10:00 am

Thank you for your quick response.

No, I have not had my pest positively identified. I found some adult blackish colored bugs of some sort and took them to an exterminator who had 40 years experience. He said they were not bb. I finally managed to get a nymph on a piece of cellophane tape and took it to him, and he said he thought it was a bb nymph.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find an adult. (I encased my mattress and box springs in a bb proof cover early on.)

After one of the bugs has been on me a while, it looks like this photograph you posted:

However, they start out looking like a pale brown dot about the size of a period (or smaller) on a page of printed text.

The bite marks they leave have a typical bb pattern – 3 in a row or sometimes in a triangle. There are also single individual bite marks.

I tried putting Rid shampoo liquid on one that was attached and left it on for about 10 minutes. It had no effect, and I had to finally scrape it off. I will try rubbing alcohol on the next one I find attached to see what effect that has.

I guess I could let one stay on my skin and just let it fall off to see how long it takes.

I would be deeply grateful for any thoughts or further information that you might have.

18 nobugsonme October 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

HI Red Angel,

I think you should get a sample positively identified. It is possible you are dealing with some kind of mite. I will email you with some suggestions.

19 Red Angel October 5, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Thank you so much. I eagerly await your email.

20 nobugsonme October 6, 2010 at 12:44 am

Hi RedAngel,

I sent it several hours before your last comment. If you have not seen it, please check your spam filter! If you still don’t see it, please email me: nobugs [at] bedbugger dotcom.

21 Red Angel October 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

You were right. My spam filter got it. I have sent you an email.

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