Too many of us have been in this situation: you wake up one morning to find itchy bite marks on your arm or leg. You panic, remembering about that news story you saw on TV or that horror story your neighbor told you. The first question might be, “is this a bed bug bite?” Since you can’t be sure, that’s likely followed immediately by, “how do I know if I have bed bugs?”
Before dousing your home with gasoline and lighting a match, you’ll want to confirm whether your suspicions are related to bed bugs or not. The most common sign of a bed bug infestation – those itchy red bites on your skin – are easily confused with mosquito bites, spider bites, or an allergic reaction. Many other warning signs can be false alarms as well. Let’s talk about identifying signs of bed bugs and confirming a bed bug infestation.
Bed Bugs and Their Signs
The first step in determining whether or not you have bed bugs is to inspect your home for signs of the critters. While bed bugs can be spotted with the naked eye, you’re probably not going to find one out and about while you’re awake. Instead, you’re more likely to come across something they’ve left behind while moving between their meal host (you) and their hiding place.
Bed bugs often leave blood stains on sheets, pillows, and furniture. These small red spots are caused by bed bugs spitting up some of the blood they were drinking. Blood stains can also occur when a bug gets crushed by their host rolling over in bed.
Thin black streaks can occur where bed bugs have been active. These are bed bug feces, made up of digested blood and excreted by bed bugs on their way to their hideout. To confirm that a streak is from a bed bug, try dabbing it with a damp cloth or paper towel. It should leave a red smudge.
Bed bugs reach adulthood by progressing through five infant stages of development. Each stage is entered by digesting a blood meal and shedding their skin. These bed bug skins are transparent, golden-tinted, and resemble the bed bug that discarded them.
Bed bugs themselves are tan or brown in color, though they can appear more red after they’ve had a meal. They’re usually about 5 millimeters long as an adult, or roughly the size of an apple seed. They have flat bodies and can’t jump or fly – instead, they scurry along the floor at about the speed of a common ant.
Confirming an Infestation
To begin your confirmation process, start searching for the previously discussed signs of bed bugs somewhere in your room. The natural hot spot for bed bugs would be on or around your bed, but don’t ignore other parts of the room that they may be hiding in.
Begin by carefully inspecting your sheets on both sides. Lift the sheets off the mattress to check its seams, and turn the seams up to look under where they tend to fold over. Remove the mattress from the box spring and check its underside, then search along the seams and underside of the box spring. Remove everything from your bed frame so you can check its joints and edges.
If the inspection of your bed left you empty-handed, start searching elsewhere in the room. Check along the baseboards where the floor meets the walls, and search around dressers, nightstands, and other low-standing furniture. Shine a flashlight into any cracks or spaces in your flooring. A bed bug can hide anywhere a credit card can fit, so be careful not to pass by any thin hiding spaces.
If you’re still suspicious after your inspection, you should begin monitoring for bed bug activity over the next few weeks. The best tools for that job are a set of bed bug proof encasements paired with ClimbUp Insect Interceptors. The encasements will keep bed bugs from entering or escaping your mattress and box spring, and the ClimbUps will trap any bed bugs that try to climb up the legs of your bed to feed on you. If you find bed bugs in your interceptors, you’ll know to start treatment right away.
Next Steps if You Have Bed Bugs
If you found any convincing signs of bed bug activity, the time to act is now! You’ll want to start treatment ASAP so that you hit the bed bugs in the room before they’ve had time to feed and reproduce even more than they have already. Our 4-step solution is a professional-strength treatment process that can stop the biting from the very first night. It’s been proven over years of use by thousands of customers, and it all costs less than hiring a pest control professional to perform the treatments.