Photos of 1st, 2nd, 3rd instar bed bug nymphs along with waste and exuviae

by nobugsonme on August 14, 2011 · 13 comments

in bed bugs, photos, photos of bed bug eggs, photos of bed bug feces, photos of bed bugs

American Museum of Natural History Entomologist Lou Sorkin has shared the following photos with us, to better illustrate the relative sizes of bed bugs, waste and exuviae (cast skins). The descriptions below come from Lou himself.

Image 1- Now 2nd and 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Image 1- Now 2nd and 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Front face of 1/4 inch square graph paper (not same paper as Images 3 & 4). Originally 1st instar bed bug nymphs had been in vial. Fed and let them grow to 2nd instar. There’s a 3rd instar, too. Notice how small the fecal (dark) and nitrogenous (pale) wastes are. Also some smears. Turn paper around for Image 2.

Image 2- Now 2nd & 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Image 2- Now 2nd & 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Rear face of 1/4 inch square graph paper (not same paper as Images 3 & 4). Originally 1st instar bed bug nymphs had been in vial. Fed and let them grow to 2nd instar. There’s a 3rd instar, too, and one 1st instar under the pile near lower area of paper in white plastic cap. Notice how small the fecal (dark) and nitrogenous (pale) wastes are. Also some smears. See front side of paper on Image 1.

Image 3- 1st, 2nd, 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Image 3- 1st, 2nd, 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Front face of 1/4 inch graph paper (not same paper as Images 1 & 2). Originally had been 1st-5th instar nymphs plus adult stage of common bed bug. Removed 4th & 5th instar nymphs and adults. Note fecal and nitrogenous waste marks plus a few eggs. Paper absorbed some waste [forming] blotches. Also some smears. See shed skins of various instars. See relative sizes of nymphs to 1/4 inch squares. See reverse side on Image 4.

Image 4- 1st, 2nd, 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Image 4- 1st, 2nd, 3rd instar bed bug nymphs

Rear face of 1/4 inch graph paper (not same paper as Images 1 & 2). Originally had been 1st-5th instar nymphs plus adult stage of common bed bug. Removed 4th & 5th instar nymphs and adults. Note fecal and nitrogenous waste marks plus a few eggs. Paper absorbed some waste [forming] blotches. Also some smears. See shed skins of various instars. See relative sizes of nymphs to 1/4 inch squares. See front side on Image 3.

Many thanks to Lou for sharing these helpful images with us!

We’re ever grateful for his generous and tireless efforts to educate us and the rest of the world about bed bug biology and behavior.

Note: you can view larger sizes of the same images on Lou’s Flickr pages by clicking any of the photos above.

Permissions: All photographs used by permission from Louis Sorkin, photographer.

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1 NotSoSnug August 15, 2011 at 1:08 am

Even having deliberately hunted and caught live bedbugs, it’s tough for me to look at the high density of various generations in those photos without getting shivers. But it’s certainly fascinating. Thanks Lou!

2 chuck007 August 15, 2011 at 1:15 am

Ok this is all nice and educational but when will somebody come up with a way to kill them . I dont mean to sound ungrateful I’m sure Lou went through a lot of trouble to feed and raise these young bed bugs but thats not a problem eradicating them is what seems to be the problem .

3 Lou Sorkin August 15, 2011 at 8:48 am

It’s important to know what to look for when searching for bed bugs. Do you really have an infestation or not. Do you have “bites” and have treated, but still have “bites”?
So many news programs, entomologists or PMPs who are interviewed, and others TELL the viewers to look for bed bugs, fecal droppings (leaving out pale droppings), shed skins, but never SHOW you what you are supposed to be looking for. So many always show the adult bed bug crawling on sheets, over people, feeding on an arm, but that’s only 1/6 of the actively crawling bed bug population (there are 5 nymph stages).
People are visually oriented more than anything else and pictures are the best way to teach.

4 Lou Sorkin August 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

You can download the images and zoom in — they’re 8 megapixel images — to give you a better magnified view of the bugs, sheds, eggs, and bed bug waste material against a known measured background.

5 Tyler LeCompte August 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Amazing detail and scientific observation results Lou.
These should be powerful tools for all the PMPs and PCOs out there trying to educated their clients. We’d like to share on our site as well, mind Lou?

6 Lou Sorkin August 21, 2011 at 7:08 am

Thanks, Tyler, for your comments. You can use them for educational purposes. You may want to link back to the flickr site to provide additional images for the inquisitive person.

7 Tyler LeCompte August 23, 2011 at 8:55 am

Great thanks Lou! That is our intended purpose and mission as a company,. Without research, education and innovation we will never turn the tide back on these little vampires. Please let us know how we can continue to support you and your research.
BBFS

8 Ellen August 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Hi Lou, thanks so much for all your photos! I’m worried that I might have caught bed bugs on a trip. While inspecting my shoe bag (my shoes were on the carpeted floor by the bed during the trip), I saw two small bugs crawling on it. I captured one of them, but I can’t tell if it’s a bed bug or not.

If I were to post a picture of it, do you think you might be able to identify it? From what I can tell, it’s just over 1mm in length, and has a distinct head and distinct larger body, but not a distinct “neck”. It’s also reddish in color all over, except the tip of the butt is darker, almost like a dark brown or black. It’s shape is more elongated than wide…

9 nobugsonme August 25, 2011 at 12:41 am

Hi Ellen,

Lou may respond to you directly.

However, it is also possible to post a photo link for identification on our forums. There are a number of experts who ID photos there, including Lou, and some experienced non-experts also.

You can go here to register for the forums, and then read this post which explains how to post a photo for identification.

10 Ellen August 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thanks nobugsonme! But actually, I took it to a local pest control place (interesting that they use beagles to smell out the bedbugs), and they identified it as a rather cute psocid 🙂 PHEW.

They also showed me living bedbugs in all their stages, which was extremely interesting, and a little gross.

11 nobugsonme August 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Congratulations, Ellen!

12 Ron November 6, 2011 at 5:07 am

Question: I have been dealing with mysterious bites for a few weeks… I have torn apart and searched my bed and room, and found no specific signs of bedbugs, but did find 2 tiny dark dots on my box spring about the size of the dot on this “i” with no visible (to naked eye) head or legs. They turned into a bloody smear the moment I touched them. From what I’ve seen thats too small to be a nymph, but could it be a poop? Do they turn into blood red smears?

13 nobugsonme November 10, 2011 at 3:37 am

Hi Ron,
My understanding is that fecal stains do not turn into red smears.
You may get additional input on the forums.

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