How to Spot the Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Matthew S. Hess
President and CEO
Bed Bug Education
No one is immune from bed bugs and the educated homeowner who knows how to spot the signs of a bed bug infestation will find them much quicker. Some helpful tips will go a long way in preventing a major infestation. Neither money, power, prestige, politics or religion can stop you from bringing home a bed bug. No matter what walk of life you are from, it’s equally as displeasing to discover bed bugs in your home. Educating yourself is your first line of defense against bedbugs.
Bed Bug Behaviors
Bed bugs feast on human blood and prefer to harbor close to where humans sleep. Although cluttered and dirty conditions will aid in the quick spread of infestations, even the cleanest and most organized home is susceptible to an infestation.
Bedbugs feed on human blood, including that of children. Learning how to spot signs of bed bug infestation may help reduce the risk of children being bitten.
Bed bugs are hitchhiker and they’ll hitch a ride with whomever is available in whatever is available. Whether it’s in clothing, bedding, purses, suitcases or whatever method they can find, they can easily make it from point A to your bedroom with no problem. Once there, they can go undetected for months as they reproduce and continue to spread.
Should you suspect that you might have bed bugs, there are a few things you can look for to be sure. However, bed bugs are wonderful at staying out of sight and a professional inspection is your best option. But for now, here’s a few helpful tips:
Wherever humans sleep, bed bugs can infest. Learning how to spot the signs of bed bug infestation early can help slow the spread.
How to Spot the Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Many of the pictures included within this article are real-world, on-the-job photos that were taken by regular technicians who were on the job, fully suited up for bed bug treatments. Though these may not be the best photographs, they are pictures which depict the reality of bed bug infestations and what they look like in real life. For security and privacy, no pictures reveal any info which would reveal where they were taken.
Live Bed bugs
The first and most obvious sign to look for is live bugs. There’s no doubting it when you find a live bug. But just what does a bed bug look like? As an adult, they are a small reddish-brown bug about the size of an apple seed or a tick. In fact, some people confuse them with ticks when they only see one or two.
At least three life stages are visible in this picture: The egg, a few instars and the adult.
Adults and fecal deposits can be clearly seen with a few blurry instars on the left side.
Adult bed bugs are reddish in color and about the size of an apple seed (3/16 – 1/4 inch).
The nymph instar stages (the young) range from the size of a pin-head (newly hatched) to just under the size of an apple seed at their last molt. During the egg stage and the first few molts, they can be difficult to see. In the first few stages, bed bugs are translucent and blend in to whatever surface they are on.
Most life stages of bed bugs can be (blurrily) seen on the corner of this couch. Wherever humans sleep, bed bugs will stay nearby. The lighter colored small bed bugs are instar stages. The whiteish oval objects are eggs.
In this video, get a glimpse of a live adult bed bug in motion as it crawls across the back of a couch.
Should you find what you believe to be live bed bugs, if at all possible, you should collect them into a sealed container like a zip-lock bag or other inescapable container. Alternatively, you can take pictures of the bugs, however, some close-up pictures don’t turn out very clear and can be difficult to see. Collecting them is best. This way, you can call Four Seasons Pest Solutions and have a professional inspector come verify your find and set up a treatment plan.
Dead Bugs, Shed Exoskeletons or Eggs
Dead bugs, like live bugs, are a sure sign of an infestation, or at least a previous one. If you have never had bed bugs and never had a treatment, finding dead bed bugs means there are likely live ones nearby. Collect any dead bugs you find for professional identification. There are a few pests which can resemble bed bugs when dead. In particular, Asian ladybeetles which have lost their outer shell.
When bed bugs molt after hatching, they will shed their exoskeleton wherever they are harboring. Typically, this will be near the human host where the bed bugs feed. Once shed, these can stay in place until something moves them about, like cleaning or rubbing against them. This means that you stand a great chance at finding cast “skins” if you have an infestation.
As bed bugs molt, they leave behind their cast exoskeletons like the one pictured above.
Eggs are tiny, translucent white and, did we mention, tiny? These can be found wherever the female happens to lay them. In cracks and crevices, between items touching together and simply anywhere else.
Be bugs will lay their eggs in a variety of places but especially in cracks and crevices including this groove on a nigh stand.
Blood Spotting and Fecal Deposits
Since bed bugs feed primarily during the early morning hours when we are fast asleep, seeing them active is probably not going to happen unless you have a major infestation. However, where bed bugs feed, there is blood. Some people bleed more than others and a bite will leave blood stains and smears as the victim moves in their sleep. By the time you find them, however, they may be dried and discolored.
Additionally, where bed bugs feed, they also ‘poo’. This means digested blood stains could be present on sheets, pillowcases, mattresses, box spring and anywhere bed bugs are harboring, feeding and molting.
Bed bugs will infest crevices where furniture touches other items, like this wall. In serious infestations, their fecal deposits and smears will appear to form one large spot (as pictured). This is a sign of heavy, untreated infestation.
The joint where walls and ceiling meet is a likely place to find bed bugs and their fecal deposits. Especially in heavy infestations or where DIY products have been used unsuccessfully.
Since bud bugs prefer cracks and crevices, even places like the joining of this furniture foot to the nightstand will provide ample harborage, especially when placed close to the bed.
Headboards stay close to the wall if not against the wall completely, and are rarely disturbed. That means bed bugs will find shelter there and have easy access to their host. Finding their fecal stains on the back side of a headboard is indicative of infestation.
Heavy bed bug infestations will ruin furniture, especially mattresses. These fecal stains are from a lengthy and moderately severe infestation.
If you find spots like these on your furniture, bedding or other items, you need professional bed bug control.
Bed Bug bites
As we previously stated, bed bugs feed on sleeping hosts. An itchy, raised red spot may indicate that a bite has occurred. In some cases, the welts can resemble hives, especially in severe infestations. However, bites appear differently on each victim based on their skin’s reaction.
Finding bites like these pictured, could mean one of several pests. However, when only found on areas of the skin which are exposed at night, this likely means the bites are from bed bugs.
When bites appear to form rows (middle left side), it is indicative of bed bug bites. Bed bugs often feed in rows where the skin meets the sleeping area. This way, they do not climb on their host and can easily escape if the host moves.
If you are experiencing similar skin reactions, first go see a doctor and verify it isn’t something serious. Then, call Four Seasons Pest Solutions to perform a bedbug or other pest inspection on your home to determine what pest is causing the problem.
Odd and Unusual Odor
There is controversy surrounding whether or not bed bugs emit a specific odor. Most experienced bed bug technicians claim they can smell a bed bug infestation. It’s said that they may emit a musty smell due to their pheromones. If you have an unexplained musty odor, a good inspection would be idealm especially if you have other reasons to believe you have bedbugs.
Bed Bug Inspection
If you plan to do your own inspection, knowing where to look will be a great start. You can head on over to our blog post entitled “Where to Look for Bedbugs” to learn more about how to do a thorough job when you inspect. It won’t make you a pro, but it will certainly help you along.
If you suspect you might have bedbugs, have been somewhere that did have bedbugs, have had company who had bedbugs or have found bedbugs or their evidence, an inspection and possible treatment may be necessary. You could DIY and hope for the best but usually that ends in failure. The best choice is to call Four Seasons Pest Solutions and ask about our A.C.T. Bed Bug treatment. You won’t find a better treatment with a better warranty this side of planet! Our experienced technicians know precisely where to look and how to treat for bedbugs. We can tailor a plan just for you. Plus, you’ll have the Four Seasons Pest Solutions name behind that treatment!
Call one of our local offices to schedule your bed bug inspection or treatment.
Remember, it’s okay to live among pests…
but you don’t have to live with them!