Bed Bugs How Do You Find Them
How to Find Bed Bugs
If you have a bed bug infestation, it is best to find it early, before the infestation becomes established or spreads. Treating a minor infestation, while an inconvenience, is far less costly and easier than treating the same infestation after it becomes more widespread.
However, low-level infestations are also much more challenging to find and correctly identify. Other insects, such as carpet beetles, can be easily mistaken for bed bugs. If you misidentify a bed bug infestation, it gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house or hitchhike a ride to someone else’s house to start a new infestation. Learn about identifying bed bugs.
Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all.
Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs
A more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs. When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:
- Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
- Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
- Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
- Live bed bugs.
Where Bed Bugs Hide
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.
If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:
- In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains.
- In drawer joints.
- In electrical receptacles and appliances.
- Under loose wall paper and wall hangings.
- At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
- Even in the head of a screw.
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.
Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.
Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.
Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.
Where Bed Bugs Hide
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.
Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.
When Bedbugs Bite
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.
Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.
People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Signs of Infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.
Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.
If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.
Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
- Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
- Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
- Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.
While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.
Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."
The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."
Bed bug bites: Have you been bitten? Five signs to look for and how to get rid of them
BED bugs bites can cause great irritation, but unless you spot an infestation and get rid of them, the problem will keep occurring. Because bed bugs are difficult to spot, the best way to identify you have a problem is by looking at your bites. There are five signs to look for.
Bed bug bites are small insects that live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds.
They can be difficult to spot for a number of reasons – one being that they crawl out at night and bite exposed skin.
Bed bugs are also very small, with adult bedbugs only growing up to 5mm long – a similar size to an apple seed.
One of the best indicators you have bed bugs is to distinguish the bites. The NHS lists five signs that show you’ve been bitten.
Bed bug bites are small insects that live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds
The first, is the bites can cause itchy red bumps not he skin.
Secondly, they usually occur on exposed areas such as the face, neck, hands or arms.
Thirdly, they often occur in lines across the skin.
The fourth sign is they may cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters in more severe cases.
Finally, bed bug bites can become infected with bacteria if scratched. Signs of infection when this happens include pain, increasing redness and swelling.
The health body adds: “The bites usually fade in a few days. If they’re very itchy, you can buy a mild steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone) or antihistamine tablets to relieve the itch.
Bed bug bites: How do you know if you’ve been bitten? (Image: GETTY)
“See your GP if you develop signs of a skin infection, including pain, redness and swelling, as you may need antibiotics.”
You can try and spot the presence of bed bugs in your bed. You may be able to spot the small bugs or tiny white eggs. A bright torch can help with this.
Tiny black spots on your mattress may also be apparent – this could be their dried poo – or you may spot blood spots on your sheets if a bug has been squashed after it’s fed.
An unpleasant, musty smell in your bedroom can also indicate an infestation.
Bed bug bites: Also look out for tiny white eggs on your mattress (Image: GETTY)
Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them
Bed bugs: What are bed bugs? How to spot an infestation and how to get rid of them.
Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them
First, wash infested clothes or bed linen at 60C or put them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes.
Next, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose to suck up any bugs you can see. Proceed to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag.
Consider throwing away any mattress or furniture that’s heavily infested.
Use plastic mattress covers that encase the entire mattress – this will stop any bed bugs getting in or out.
If you’re looking to prevent bed bug infestations, make sure to inspect your mattress and bed regularly for signs of an infestation and get professional advice if you think you have bed bugs.
Avoid buying second-hand mattresses and carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.
Finally, keep your bedroom tidy and remove clutter.
Horsefly bites have also been common this year. The bites are painful and itchy, but there are five other signs you may have been bitten.
How to get rid of bed bugs – the signs that say you have them, and how to prevent them
Bites, blood spots on the bed sheets, black spots on the mattress. these are all signs of a bed bug infestation
- 14:15, 20 AUG 2018
- Updated 16:15, 20 AUG 2018
Ugh, the slow-dawning and horrifying realisation that you have bed bugs.
The tiny bloodsucking creatures love to live in the crevices between bed frames and mattresses.
Bedbugs feed exclusively on blood, crawling out from their hiding places at night to bite you. They aren’t thought to transmit diseases, though.
Bedbugs tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep – for example, under the mattress or along the headboard.
They can surprise you though – by hanging out away from the bed in other furniture, along the edges of carpets and even behind mirrors – or inside smoke alarms.
Although difficult to get rid of, it’s not impossible. Here’s a guide to working out if you’ve got bed bugs, and how to treat the problem as soon as possible.
How can I tell if I have bed bugs?
The quicker you can act to treat the problem, the easier it will be, so look out for these seven signs:
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are nocturnal, but they prefer to feed on a deeply sleeping host, which for human beings is in the few hours before sunrise.
These appear as itchy, red welts that can be flat on the skin or raised.
The majority of bites will appear on the chest or back, neck, hands, feet or face. However, bed bugs can bite any area of exposed skin.
The bites tend to appear in clusters as they crawl around testing areas multiple times to find the best source of blood. So the bites can show up in groups, rows or zig-zag lines.
The bites may cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters. In more severe cases, they can become infected with bacteria if scratched – signs of infection include pain, increasing redness and swelling
How do I treat bed bug bites?
A mild steroid cream or antihistamine can help relieve itchy bites.
You might need antibiotics for worse reactions – see your GP if you experience pain, redness, swelling or other signs of infection.
Signs and symptoms of bed bugs
1. Blood stains on bedding
You’re not going to like this, but you do need to know about it: when you move in your sleep and squash a blood-filled bed bug that’s just fed, it’ll leave little blood smears on your sheets, duvet covers an pilowcases.
Still, at least you’re getting closer to the truth.
2. Bed bug poo stains
These look like black felt tip marks on fabric. Usually found on the edges of mattresses, or on bedsheets.
These stains are digested blood – the bed bugs’ fecal matter.
Again, sorry. Rest assured, it sounds grim, but it isn’t dangerous.
Wipe the stains with a wet rag – if they smear, you’ve got a positive sighting for bed bug faeces.
3. Bed bug eggs and egg shells
Female bed bugs can deposit one to five eggs a day, and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in a bed bug’s lifetime.
Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, they can live for more than 300 days.
This is why taking quick action to treat the problem is best.
Bed bug eggs are translucent to pearly white in color and when first laid, are coated in a shiny film to help them stick to surfaces.
Bed bug eggs are shaped like a grain of rice and very, very tiny – around 1mm. Still visible to the naked eye, but a magnifying glass helps.
Empty shells will be less shiny and look flattened.
They’re more likely to be find where the bed bugs are hiding, especially on rough wood or fabric surfaces.
4. Bed bugs’ shed skin (or shells)
Don’t let this spoil the classic cinema snack for you, but bed bug shells look like tiny, translucent popcorn kernels.
After hatching, the bed bug starts life as a nymph. They look like adult bed bugs, except they’re smaller and lighter in colour.
As they mature, they’ll shed their skin 5 times, once at each new stage of development.
Look for the evidence in the usual bed bug hangout joints – box springs, mattresses, wooden furniture and framing, and so on.
5. What do bed bugs look like?
Spotting an adult bed bug going about its business in your home is one of the last ways you’ll become aware of an infestation, but it’s worth knowing what to look out for.
They’re brown, oval and flat, ranging in size from 4.5mm to as long as 7 or 8 mm when fed – approximately the size of an apple seed. They turn a reddish color after feeding – because they’re then swollen with blood.
6. The musty smell
You’ll know it if you ever sniff it – and your instincts will tell you it’s not good.
Bed bugs have glands that release pheromones when they’re disturbed, to warn the rest of the group.
The odour is musty and repellent.
Bad news: if you can smell them, you’ve got a severe infestation on your hands.
Slightly better news: if only a trained bed bug sniffing dog can find it, might be catching the problem early. Hopefully.
How to get rid of bugs
How to treat or kill bed bugs?
David Cross, Head of Technical Training at Rentokil Pest Control, has the following tips for treating bed bug bites:
“There are many natural remedies and ‘old wives tales’ on what you can use to help reduce the inflammation and itching associated with bed bug bites. Below are just a few of these you may want to try after washing your bites with soap and water, and then drying"
- Calamine lotion:This relieves itching and also helps to dry rashes and protect the skin
- Baking soda and water:Make a paste with baking soda and water, and apply it directly to the skin. Let it dry before wiping away with a cotton pad
- Toothpaste:The menthol contained in toothpaste is said to be a good anti-itch remedy. Apply a generous amount to the bite to soothe the burning sensation and relieve the itching
- Witch Hazel:This provides a mild anaesthetic effect that helps to calm the itching caused by bites
- Aloe Vera:Both “fresh” Aloe Vera or gel works well against insect bites. The active substances and amino acids present in Aloe Vera help relieve itching and burning sensations
- Lemon juice:This has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also a natural astringent. Lemon juice can help dry rashes and itchiness while reducing redness and swelling”
Prevention and steps
1. Strip your bed
Apart from possibly leading to unpleasant skin reactions, the bed bug bites are also keeping the pests alive, as they feed on your blood.
If they can’t feed, they can’t breed, keeping the infestation alive.
Strip your bed of all sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding, and seal them in plastic garbage bags to keep bed bugs from escaping and infesting other parts of your home.
Take the bags straight to the washing machine, and wash them using the hot water setting.
Then, dry the bedding on high heat if their tags allow it. This heat treatment will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your bedding.
Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any bed bugs, shells, fecal droppings, or eggs that might be along the seams of your mattress, pillows, box spring, and along the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, headboard, and footboard.
Follow up the vacuuming with a high-pressure steamer to kill bed bugs and eggs hidden deep within furniture.
While the mattress and box spring are left to dry, spray down the joints of the bed frame, headboard, and footboard with a contact spray and residual spray.
Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements.
Move your bed away from any other points of contact, like walls, nightstands, and other furniture.
Tuck in or remove any hanging skirts or sheets, and remove any storage under the bed that is touching any part of the frame.
The only thing your bed should be touching is the floor via its legs. Place bed bug interceptors under each leg – they look like cups that the bed bugs fall into when trying to climb up the legs of the bed.
The cups will help you monitor how quickly the bed bug population in your home is dwindling as they lose access to feeding on your blood.
If your bed has a solid base rather than legs, you’re best off throwing it out.
3. Hunt and destroy all bed bugs in your home
Clothes, books, and other personal belongings shouldn’t be left on the floor, as they make treatment more difficult and add hiding places for bed bugs.
Seal them in garbage bags and store them in another room.
Any clothing that was picked up from the floor or removed from dresser drawers should be dried on high heat for at least 45 minutes.
Once treated, clothing that you don’t normally wear should be stored inside garbage bags outside of the infested room.
Then, vacuum and steam along baseboards, window sills, and the edge of the carpet.
Make sure you clean the vacuum and steam cleaners afterwards.
A portable bed bug heater can be used to clean items that can’t be washed or vacuumed, such as books, shoes or luggage.
You can also use bed bug sprays and powders to kill the pests in hard-to-reach areas.
Powders can be left undisturbed to do their work, but sprays will need to be reapplied every two weeks for a few months.
How do you get bed bugs?
Bed bugs can be transported easily in luggage, clothing and furniture.
Once in your home, they can quickly spread from room to room. They don’t jump or fly, but can crawl long distances.
Top tips to prevent bed bug infestations:
inspect your mattress and bed regularly for signs of an infestation, and get professional advice if you think you have bedbugs
avoid buying second-hand mattresses and carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it into your home
keep your bedroom tidy and remove clutter
Bedbugs aren’t attracted to dirt, so they’re not a sign of an unclean home, but clearing up any clutter will reduce the number of places they can hide.
Once treated, they should be dead within a few weeks, depending on the severity of the infestation.
What NOT to Do When you Have Bed Bugs
View this page in another language
- Do not Panic. You can control bed bugs with careful inspection and by using proper control methods.
- Do not try to kill bed bugs by using agricultural or garden pesticides. Using outdoor pesticides to control bed bugs can make you or your family very sick.
- Do no t use products that appear to be “homemade” or “custom formulated.” Homemade products could be dangerous and they might make the problem worse.
- Do no t use products that have labels in a non-English language
- Do not apply pesticides directly to your body. This could make you very sick.
- Do no t use rubbing alcohol, kerosene or gasoline. These chemicals may cause fires
- Do not throw away your furniture. Beds and other furniture can be treated for bed bugs. Throwing away your furniture can spread the bugs and you have to buy new furniture.
- Do not store things under the bed. Storing stuff under the bed gives bed bugs many new places to hide. This makes it more difficult to get rid of bed bugs.
- Do not move things from room to room. Moving your things from the room with bed bugs to another room in your house may spread the bed bugs.
- Do not wrap items in black plastic and place in the sun. It will not get hot enough to kill all the bugs.