Have you been getting itchy, red bumps while you sleep in your bed? It’s possible you have a bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs can be difficult to detect and identify, but knowing the early signs of bed bugs infestations is the key to getting rid of them quickly and effectively. Read on to find out how can you tell if you have bed bugs…
Why Should You Always Check For Bed Bugs?
When you travel, you must always check for bed bugs to prevent them from hitching a ride on your luggage and infesting your home.
Bed bugs are known to be present in various places, such as hotels, dorm rooms, cruise ships, and public transportation like buses and trains.
Being aware of their presence and taking necessary precautions can significantly reduce the risk of infestations.
One primary reason to check for bed bugs is their ability to rapidly reproduce and create large infestations.
Bed bugs are excellent at hiding in small spaces, including your luggage, clothing, and personal items.
Once they enter your home, these nocturnal insects can quickly establish a presence and cause discomfort through itchy bites.
To avoid bringing bed bugs back from your travels, follow these steps:
- Inspect your accommodations: Upon arrival, check for signs of bed bugs in the hotel room or dorm. Look for tiny reddish or dark brown insects near the mattress seams, bed frame, or behind headboards. Check for small reddish-brown stains on linens, which could be a sign of crushed bed bugs or their excrement, as well as looking for bed bug eggs.
- Manage your luggage: Keep your luggage off the floor and use a luggage rack if possible. Bed bugs could sneak in your luggage from hotel rooms or even public transportation. Make use of vacuum-sealed bags for clothing to further protect your belongings.
- Clean your belongings: After returning home, clean your clothes and items thoroughly. Preferably, wash your clothes in hot water, and dry them at high heat to kill any potential bed bugs or eggs. For non-washable items, consider using a steamer or consulting with a professional to eliminate the possibility of an infestation.
What Is the Fastest Way to Check for Bed Bugs?
To quickly check for bed bugs, it’s important to know the most common hiding spots in your home.
Bed bugs tend to reside close to their food source – that is, people – so focusing on areas near your bed is a good starting point.
Firstly, strip your bed and thoroughly inspect your bedding. Look for tiny, reddish-brown insects, as well as small dark spots or stains that could indicate their presence. Pay close attention to seams, folds, and edges, looking carefully with your naked eye, or a magnifying glass.
Next, inspect your mattress and box spring. Look for signs of bed bugs along the seams, piping, and under any labels. Be sure to lift and check the underside of the mattress as well.
Your bed frame and headboard can also harbor bed bugs. Examine all joints, crevices, and screw heads for signs of the insects. If your bed has a footboard, make sure to check that thoroughly too.
Bed bugs may also be found on nearby furniture. Inspect nightstands, dressers, and upholstered chairs. Be sure to check the inside of drawers, as well as any cracks or crevices.
While these insects primarily reside close to the bed, bed bugs can also be found further away in your home. Look for the pests in the following areas:
- Behind wallpaper, wall hangings, and baseboards
- Around electrical outlets and light switches
- Within the crevices of walls where the wall meets the ceiling
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that can be difficult to spot because of their size and swift movements.
Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, which makes them easier to see than their younger counterparts, the nymphs. They have six legs and are typically reddish-brown in color.
When examining bed bugs, it’s important to note their distinct life stages. Adult bed bugs have a more oval-shaped body and are flat when unfed.
After feeding on blood, their bodies become more elongated and swollen. Adult bed bugs can vary from brown to reddish-brown depending on their recent feeding status.
Nymphs, or young bed bugs, are smaller than adults and can be more challenging to spot. They can appear almost translucent, making them difficult to see on certain types of surfaces.
As they grow and mature through their five life stages, they gradually darken and become more visible. Here’s a quick overview of their size and color:
- First instar nymphs: 1-2 mm long, nearly colorless.
- Second instar nymphs: 2-3 mm long, light brown.
- Third instar nymphs: 3-4 mm long, brownish-yellow.
- Fourth instar nymphs: 4-5 mm long, dark brown.
- Fifth instar nymphs: 5-6 mm long, reddish-brown.
How Can You Tell If You Have Bed Bugs?
Identifying a bed bug infestation can be tricky, but there are several signs that can help you determine if these pesky insects have made themselves at home.
- Bites: Bed bug bites and itchy welts / red welts, are often the first sign of an infestation. They are typically small, red, and itchy, and can resemble the bites of other insects, such as mosquito bites, spider bites, flea bites or chiggers. Some individuals might not experience any visible reaction to the bite marks, making it more challenging to identify the issue.
- Rash: In certain cases, a bed bug infestation can cause a rash on the skin. This rash may develop due to an allergic reaction, or simply as a result of the skin’s irritation from the bedbug bites.
- Dark Spots: One of the more telltale signs of a bed bug issue is the presence of dark or rusty-colored spots on your sheets, mattress, and surrounding areas. These spots are often the result of either crushed bed bugs or their droppings.
- Musty Odor: A peculiar musty smell can sometimes indicate a bed bug infestation. This scent is emitted by bed bugs and can become particularly strong when their numbers have increased.
- Blood Spots: Upon waking up, you may find small blood spots on your bed sheets or pillowcases. These are typically the result of inadvertently squishing bed bugs in your sleep.
To further your investigation, make sure to examine seams, folds, and crevices of your bedding and furniture.
Bed bugs are known to hide in these tiny spaces and can be difficult to spot.
Keep an eye out for insect eggs, which are white ovals approximately 1/16″ in length, and the live bugs themselves – they are small, reddish-brown, wingless insects roughly the size of an apple seed.
Early Signs Of Bed Bug Infestations To Look Out For
Bed bug (cimex lectularius) infestations are troublesome and can often go unnoticed for a long time. Here are some early sign of bed bugs, that you should look out for, to detect and address a bed bug problem as soon as possible.
1. Unexplained Bites and Rashes
The first indication that you might have bed bugs is the appearance of red, inflamed bites on your skin, typically upon waking. These red spots and bites are often itchy and can be arranged in a rough line or small clusters, usually on areas like the face, neck, arms, and hands.
2. Bloodspots and Stains on Bedding
When you inspect your sheets, be on the lookout for small bloodspots or stains. These can be caused by crushed bed bugs or their fecal matter (fecal spots). Check all parts of your bedding, including seams and folds, as well as curtains and other fabrics nearby.
3. Small Brown Spots
Tiny brown or rust-colored spots on your mattress, sheets, or upholstered furniture may be another sign of the presence of bed bugs. These spots can be excrement left behind by the bugs.
4. Shed Skins
Bed bugs go through several life stages, and they shed their skins as they grow. The presence of these pale-yellow skins around your bed or in your bedroom can be a strong indication of an infestation.
5. Visual Confirmation of Bed Bugs
Seeing live bed bugs or their casings is the most unmistakable sign of an infestation in your home. Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown, flat, and about the size of an apple seed.
They can often hide in seams of mattresses, cracks in furniture, under loose wallpaper, and within electrical outlets.
How Long Can Bed Bugs Live Undetected?
Bed bugs are known to survive without food (a blood meal) for several months, which allows them to remain unnoticed. In ideal conditions with access to food, bed bugs can live up to 6-12 months.
However, their survival rate is heavily influenced by factors such as temperature and humidity.
These pests often hide in various places inside your living space, including furniture, crevices, box springs, and bed frames.
They are most active during the night, making them harder to spot by the untrained eye.
To make matters worse, they can seamlessly blend into their environment due to their size and color, which further prolongs their chances of remaining undetected.
To minimize their presence, it’s important to declutter your living space, as clutter provides numerous hiding places for these bugs.
Regularly inspecting and cleaning items such as bed linens, mattresses, curtains, and upholstered furniture can also prevent a bed bug infestation from becoming severe.
Keep an eye out for the following indicators of bed bugs:
- Bites: Red, itchy bites on your skin upon waking. Note that these bites might not be specific to bed bug bites, as they can be similar to those of other bugs.
- Stains: Dark reddish-brown spots on sheets, linens, and furniture, which are caused by bed bug fecal matter or blood stains.
- Shed skins and eggs: You might find tiny yellowish eggs, eggshells, and shed skins around their hiding places.
- Odor: A sweet, musty scent near the bed or hiding spots, which comes from the bed bugs’ scent glands.
Bed bug infestations can be difficult to identify, but knowing the signs of an issue is key to getting rid of them quickly and effectively.
To check for bed bugs in your home, focus on areas near your bed and mattress, as well as furniture and other fabrics.
Be sure to look out for small, reddish-brown insects as well as dark spots or stains that could indicate their presence.
Pay attention to any unexplained bites or rashes on your skin and a sweet musty odor around the affected area.
Finally, keep an eye out for eggs and shed skins that may speak to a more severe problem.