Again and again, journalists point out that bed bugs are “about the size of” apple seeds, or that they even “look like” apple pips.
You don’t have to look to the media reports for this cliché — it’s found in everything from the National Pesticide Information Center and Indiana University fact sheets, to give just two examples (NPIC notes “adults are about the size of an apple seed”).
It’s such a commonplace in writing about these bugs and I don’t doubt that I said it many times myself.
However, entomologist Lou Sorkin has a response to this idea: not so.
Of course, a visual is most helpful in convincing us Lou is right. And now we have one. Here’s an excellent comparison of bedbugs and apple pips, from Lou:
Of the image, Lou writes on his flickr page,
Apples and Oranges? Bed Bugs and Apple Seeds.
Male and female adult bed bugs in both unfed and fed conditions playing around their plant part look-a-likes, apple seeds. They can’t tell the difference either and readily crawl over the apple seeds in a manner similar to what they do in their harborages. Both male and female bed bugs can have elongated abdomens after feeding. Males did not try to mate with the apple seeds. Any pale or dark waste droppings are from the bugs. Apple seeds don’t move much at all, they have no legs. They are plump, but haven’t fed. Blue line squares are 1/4 inch size.
You must realize by now that I don’t like to describe bed bugs as looking like apple seeds. Bed bugs look like bed bugs. It’s important to familiarize yourself with good images of nymph and adult bed bugs, their waste material, and their shed skins to be able to properly identify unknown insects you may come across in your home or while on the road.
Once again, we applaud Lou for his tireless efforts to educate the world about these bugs.
I am going to try not to compare bedbugs to apple seeds.
How about you?
Photo credit: Apples and Oranges? Bed Bugs and Apple Seeds by Louis Sorkin (louento.pix) and used via a Creative Commons Attribution/No Derivative Works license.