One can assume that you don’t want to share a mattress with pesky bed bugs. But if you had them, would you be able to identify the insects? Probably not, according to a new survey.

In a survey among United States business and leisure travelers, 60 percent said they would switch hotels if they saw bed bugs in a guest room, but only 35 percent of business travelers were able to correctly identify a photo of them.

Read: 7 Little-Known Facts About Bed Bugs And How To Get Rid Of Bloodsucking Insects

“Considering all the media attention paid to bed bugs in recent years, the fact that most travelers still have a poor understanding of them is troubling,” co-author of the study Dr. Michael Potter said in a statement.

In an online survey, more than 2,000 travelers responded to questions about traveler awareness, experience, and attitudes toward bed bugs. To get more people to participate and to reduce the bias related to bed bugs, the survey included general questions about hotels first and left the bed bug questions for the end. One of the questions included an image (as seen below) and asked participants to identify a bed bug out of a line-up of other insects including an ant, termite, louse, and tick. A majority of participants weren't able to identify it and chose the “I don’t know” option.

Further findings revealed that more than half of participants would be highly unlikely to stay in a hotel with a single online review citing bed bugs.

“From a hotel industry perspective, it’s worrisome that a single online report of bed bugs would cause the majority of travelers to book different accommodations, irrespective of whether the report is accurate,” lead study author Dr. Jerrod M. Penn said. “Furthermore, the incident could have involved only one or a few rooms, which the hotel previously eradicated.”

Common Insect Lineup Which of these common insect pests is a bed bug? In a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, just 35 percent of US business travelers and 28 percent of leisure travelers could correctly identify the bed bug. Poor awareness of bed bugs enables their spread and causes problems for the hotel and lodging industry. The answers: 1-Ant, 2-Termite, 3-Louse, 4-Bed Bug, 5-Tick. Credit: Entomological Society of America

Penn and his colleagues' findings are published in American Entomologist, the quarterly magazine of the Entomological Society of America

Read: Read Is A Bed Bug’s Favorite Color; Should You Change Your Bed Sheets To Prevent Infestation?

Being able to correctly identify bed bugs is an important step to controlling infestation, especially while at home. The insects' appearances may vary depending which region of the country you live in, but in general, here’s what adult bed bugs look like, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

• About the size of an apple seed

• If recently fed, they appear bloated, reddish-brown, and more elongated

• If not recently fed, they appear flat, brown, and long

• Considered “true bugs,” meaning they are divided into three regions: head, thorax, and abdomen

• Short,golden-colored hairs

A photo of adult bed bugs can be seen here. It’s possible to have an infestation of younger bed bugs, or eggs too. They may not be visible, but if they are they will be smaller and translucent or whitish-yellow in color.  

While knowing what the insect looks like is important, it’s equally as important to spot physical signs of bed bugs. Stay on the look out for rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets, small dark spots that bleed like a marker, and pale yellow skins that young bugs shed.

See also: Some Bed Bugs Withstand Insecticides By Growing Thicker Skin

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