More helpful images from Lou Sorkin — in this case, images of bed bug shed skins. Bed bug shed skins are one of the visual signs we look for in order to confirm bed bugs: bed bugs, bed bug eggs, bed bug fecal stains and bed bug shed skins (which are also known as bed bug cast skins — usually among our European readers). So learning how to identify bed bug shed skins can be very useful.
Most people are surprised that shed skins look so much like bed bugs — kind of like the bed bug took off a full-body suit. It’s usual to see the legs and outline of other body parts.
Lou Sorkin’s description of his photo:
“A dorsal, and 2 ventral views of the exuviae or shed skins of 5th instar bed bug nymphs. You can see the 3 dorsal scent gland areas on the middle of 3 dorsal abdominal sclerites in bug on left. You are looking into the bug: the thoracic sclerites split down the center and on head and the adult crawled out. The proboscis is evident as are 2 antennae of the bug on right. Contrast, brightness, gamma settings modified to enhance the sclerotized parts.”
And now, for their close-ups:
Lou describes this image:
“Magnified view of the 3 exuviae (shed skins) of the 5th instar bed bug nymphs. Stylet fascicle and labium visible in shed skin on right (on its back, venter up). The fine, hairlike white strands in the sheds are the tracheae, very fine tubes (finer ones are tracheoles) through which air is transported within the body and are connected to the outside world via the spiracles (openings in body wall for air to enter and leave body– some can be seen where tracheae meets the body wall in shed on left, dorsum up). Can also look inside hollow leg sockets. Contrast, brightness, gamma settings modified to enhance the sclerotized parts.”
Golden bed bug skins!
These images of bed bug shed skins are actually, dare I say it, beautiful.
Lou describes this photo as follows:
“Side view of a shed skin (exuviae) of a freshly molted 5th instar bed bug nymph. Thoracic sclerites have a break in their centers and also in head area, so the sclerite breaks and the adult is able to crawl out. Membrane is pale, sclerotized body segments are darker brown. You can see antenna on front of head. Dorsal scent gland area on middle of 3 abdominal sclerites. Adult insect doesn’t retain the dorsal abdominal scent glands. Contrast, brightness, gamma settings modified to enhance the sclerotized parts.”
I love it when I can actually see the fine hairs on a bed bug image.
Note that we also have a helpful FAQ with photos from Franco Casini which compare bed bug shed skins with those of German cockroaches, dermestid beetle larvae, carpet beetles, and also an image which compares shed skins of bed bug nymphs of various stages: What do bed bug cast skins look like?