How Bed Bug Infestation Look Like
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.
How Can You Tell the Severity of a Bed Bug Infestation?
ByChris Williamson April 29, 2015.
Bed bug exuviae (shed skins)
A concerned property owner in Rochester, New Hampshire recently asked me if I could tell how long bed bugs had been in an apartment. With legislation in place regarding bed bug infestation and the responsibility of property owners, his concerns were justifiable. New Hampshire now mandates that bed bug or other infestations are the responsibility of the property owner, regardless of the cause of infestation. Fleas may be the only exception to this rule, as pet activity associated with a tenant may directly cause the infestation.
Cockroaches, bed bugs, ants, rodents, fleas, and wasps are the main problems that property owners and property management run into at typical apartment settings. Fleas from a previous tenant will also be covered by this legislation. Now the burden lies on the property owner to provide a pest free living space to all occupants.
As a rule, early detection of a pest problem can lead to an early solution. Problems develop over time, so early detection is critical. This may not be possible, as tenants may not report an issue until it is beyond a quick fix. Non-notification of pest problems may be due to many reasons that I will not go into here. Frequent property inspections and good tenant relations can go a long way in pest prevention.
Documentation of any complaints is critical. Thorough inspection with photos to document the conditions before and after renting an apartment or property will be very helpful to all parties. Always use a Pest Control Professional when dealing with pest issues to avoid potential mistreatment or poisoning.
In the following sections, I will try to describe the different levels of bed bug infestation, divided into three categories: Light, Moderate, and Heavy.
Light Bed Bug Infestation
- New infestation, just arrived. It takes 45-60 days from egg to mated adult (1-2 months)
- Few sightings and blood stains noted if any, 1-2 caught as specimens for identification, minimal irritation from bites. Adult bed bugs are tan to dark reddish brown, flattened, compact insects about 5-6mm long; juveniles are much smaller and are clear with a red or black dot after feeding. Both adults and juveniles are visible.
- Minimal fecal staining (small black stains in areas of travel, feeding, and harborage). Fecal stains will be anywhere the bed bugs hide or travel and can be used to detect hot spots.
- Minimal cast skins (exuviae are the skins shed during the molting process). These small translucent to tan shells can be found near harborage sites, in dust, or in webs. Each bed bug will produce five cast skins during its 100-day juvenile stage.
- Few if any visible eggs. Eggs are laid in clusters near harborage sites and along feeding routes. Eggs look like small white dots or lines glued to surfaces near the host. Females may lay 3 eggs a day if continuous feeding is available, laying over 300 eggs during her 10-11 month lifetime.
- Only 1 or 2 areas of suspect activity noted. Bed bug infestations usually starts in one or two “hot spots” of the home or apartment, then spread as the population increases. Natural migration by females to new areas and spreading through movement of personal items allows bed bugs to find new areas to infest.
Moderate Bed Bug Infestation
- Established Infestation (4-8 months since initial arrival of bed bugs)
- Many live adults and nymphs noted (bloodstains on walls and mattresses, live insects engorged with blood on mattresses, furniture, walls, under carpets, etc.)
- Visible fecal stains present in multiple areas (staining on mattress, sheets, pillows, bed frames, bedside tables, dressers, books, walls, baseboards, curtains, chairs, couches, behind pictures, under and on carpets, etc.)
- Many cast skins (on floors, in webs, under carpets, in dressers, along with dead bed bugs, and bed bugs caught by spiders). By now, there should be hundreds of exuviae.
- Many hot spots (beds and sleeping areas, couches, corners, most furniture has staining and live insects present, all rooms including bathroom may have live bed bugs on walls and ceilings, as well as under carpets near sleeping areas and feeding routes). The bed bug population has spread out from initial hot spots to locations throughout the apartment/home and now pose a threat to neighboring units above, below, and to sides.
Heavy Bed Bug Infestation
- Heavy infestations take 6 months to 1 year to develop. Bed bugs mature relatively slowly; at a certain threshold, multiple overlapping generations are produced and the population will explode if conditions permit.
- Countless adults and nymphs present (Adults walking on walls, clustered in cracks on walls, stained curtains, etc. Dead bed bugs and blood stains on sheets, mattresses, walls, bed frames, on/under carpets, moldings, under tiles, almost every where they can hide and get to a host).
- Heavy fecal staining. This thick blood byproduct becomes like black paint in areas of high bed bug density and traffic. As they move to and from the human host, fecal droplets fall off the backside of the bed bug. Densely populated harborage sites also contain heavy fecal staining. Over time, it becomes thick and even has a semi-sweet, bug smell for aggregation. It is a bad infestation if you can smell this odor. Heavily stained mattresses, box springs, carpets, and other fabric items may need to be discarded or deep cleaned to remove the organic material. Walls, ceilings, and floors will also need attention once the infestation has been taken care of, and certainly prior to rental.
- Cast skins are all over the place. Multiple overlapping generations have produced thousands of exuviae, especially in harborage sites. Heavy infestations create so many exuviae that they will be readily evident upon inspection of areas near sleeping areas.
- Eggs and hatched eggs are visible (along seams, edges of molding, mattress tufts, in couches, dressers, tables, carpet edges, all around hotspots).
- The population is now only limited by access to the host (tenants).
- Heavy infestations can populate entire structures. Due to natural movement from overcrowding as well as transport of personal items, bed bugs can spread to previously uninfested dwellings. Wall voids, pipe chases, electrical apertures, and other hidden conduits may contain adult bed bugs, which can live over 1 year if no host is present, and actively seek a new host.
Bed bugs are no joke, they are real, and can cause serious problems if left untreated. If you suspect bed bugs, call Colonial Pest Control at 1-800-525-8084.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like (And How To Get Rid of Them Faster)
It can be difficult to identify bed bug bites because the red itchy bumps caused by bed bug bites look like flea bites or mosquito bites. Bed bugs usually come out at night and feed on the blood of humans. The tiny nasty pests can leave a cluster of bite marks on your face, arms, stomach, and legs. Some people only have a mild reaction to the bed bug bites and may only have a few small red dots. However, others have more severe reactions and are plagued by large red bite marks and an irresistible urge to scratch them.
Pictures of bed bug bites show groups of red bite marks on the body. Very often, the bite marks left by bed bugs are in straight lines or in a zig-zag and very rarely is there just one solitary red bite mark.
There are many effective natural home remedies to quickly get rid of the signs of bed bug bites. You can make your own natural treatments for insect bites with ingredients like witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera. The natural anti-inflammatory ingredients in those home remedies help to quickly relieve itching and promote healing.
In this article, you will learn how to identify bed bug bites and find out how to get rid of them quickly. You will also see images of bed bug bites to help you to spot the tell-tale signs that you have been bitten.
What do Bed Bugs Look Like?
The Latin name for bed bugs isCimex lectularius, or common bed bug. If you’ve ever seen a close-up picture of a bed bug you will see that they look quite scary. However, in reality, bed bugs are tiny pests that lurk in corners and crevices of beds, mattresses, and furniture. They are about the size of a small apple seed and many can be seen crawling around if you have an infestation.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that bed bugs have flat, brown, oval bodies. They don’t have wings but can quickly scurry over floors, ceilings, and walls. The parasitic insects live in groups and love to hide in dark places. If you have a bed bug problem in your home, you should check for signs of bed bugs in corners of your bed frame, along the seams of mattresses, along baseboards, and behind pictures. In fact, they will live in any crevice that is large enough to slide a credit card into. 1
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that bed bug eggs look like tiny white pinheads. As they go through their nymph stages they shed skins and these yellowish shells are a common sign to look for when checking for an infestation of bugs. 2
Pictures of bed bugs
How to Identify Bed Bug Bites
On most people, bed bug bites look like itchy red bumps on their body. However, it can be difficult to know if the bite marks have been caused by bed bugs or not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of bed bug bites may not appear for a few days. Also, each person reacts differently to being bitten by these irritating pests. Some people show no signs of being bitten whereas other people have a severe reaction to the bite, and large bumps appear on the skin that itch severely. 3
However, Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the only way to know for sure if the red bite marks have been caused by bed bugs is to look for signs of a bug infestation. That will confirm if the red spots that look like bed bug bites are in fact the result of bed bugs.
Bed Bug Bites – Signs and Symptoms
Images of bed bug bites generally show clusters of itchy red bumps on a person’s arms, neck, face, legs, and other areas of their body. Depending on the number of bed bugs that have infested your sleeping area and your reaction to them, bed bug bites also have other signs.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that more often than not, bed bug bites will be in either a rough line or in a cluster of red marks. If they cause a severe skin reaction, the itching can be very intense. In rare cases, a person who has many bites and a severe allergic reaction should visit a doctor. 4
Doctors from the National Health Service say that, in some cases, the itchy red bumps on the skin can cause a rash or start to blister and fill with fluid. 5
However, it can be difficult to tell if the bites have been caused by bed bugs or another insect. Therefore, it’s important to know how to identify the difference between bed bug bites, flea bites and mosquito bites.
Bed bug bite vs flea bite
Flea bites and bed bug bites look very similar and cause itchy red marks on the skin. Even in pictures, it is hard to tell bed bug bites and flea bites apart. However, there are some differences.
The symptoms of flea bites generally appear on the ankles, feet and around the abdomen. As with bed bug bites, flea bite symptoms can also appear in small clusters. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian says that if you look closely at a bed bug bite you won’t see a small red dot in the middle as is characteristic of flea bites. 1
Bed bug bite vs mosquito bite
Both mosquito bites and bed bug bites can leave itchy welts on the skin. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that the symptoms of mosquito bites show up very soon after the bite; in fact, in only a few minutes, a puffy red bump usually appears. 6
Unlike bed bug bites that are painless, you may feel the mosquito bite and it might start to itch immediately. It is also more likely that the mosquito bite will blister and ooze a small amount of fluid.
Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites – Complications
Bed bug bite marks usually heal within 2 weeks and won’t leave any permanent mark on the skin. In some cases, there are complications associated with bed bug bites.
Of course, for many people, the appearance of red itchy welts on visible areas of skin like their face or arms is an unwanted complication of bed bug bites.
One of the most common, and potentially serious, complications that is seen with bed bug bite is a secondary skin infection. Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner on WebMD says that itching from bed bug bites can be so severe that constant scratching breaks the skin and germs get it. This can cause a bacterial infection in the bite mark. 7
Dr. Steven Doerr on eMedicnineHealth warns that some people experience severe allergic reactions to bed bug bites. Some of the signs of a serious allergic reaction include itching all over the body, tightness in the throat, chest pain, red bed bug rash that spreads from the bite area. 8
At least the good news with bed bug bites is that they don’t spread disease. The CDC states that bed bugs don’t spread disease and the most serious health threat is a lack of sleep from scratching and secondary skin infections. 3
Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
If you suspect that clusters of itchy red spots on your body are the result of pesky bed bugs, you should check for signs of an infestation.
First, you don’t have to worry that having bed bugs is a sign of uncleanliness or dirtiness. The CDC says that bed bugs only feed on blood and aren’t attracted to dirt. Bed bugs have been found in the cleanest of 5-star hotels. 3
To check for signs of bed bugs, you should look in areas where they tend to live. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that tell-tale signs of bed bug activity are tiny rusty-colored stains on bed linen from bug feces or dried blood. You may also notice tiny yellow shed skins around your bed and sleeping area. 9
The next step to confirm if itchy red marks on your skin are from bed bugs is to find where the critters are hiding. You should check all joints and screw holes in your bed frame, around mattresses and box springs, and around the headboard. Other places where you might find evidence of a bed bug infestation are in the folds of drapes, in drawer joints, behind loose wallpaper, and at baseboards.
If you find feces, dead bed bugs, or bed bugs crawling around, it is time to take drastic action to get rid of the bed bugs quickly. This is the only way to prevent getting more bed bug bites in the future. Some effective ways to kill off infestation of irritating insects include using bed bug powders that destroy populations of bed bugs as well as bed bug sprays.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Fast
Fortunately, there are many great home remedies to get rid of bed bug bites quickly. Here are a few of the best ways of treating bed bug bites at home.
To quickly get rid of an intense itch in a swollen bump caused by a bed bug bite, you can use a cold compress. One excellent way to make a compress is by using a cold tea bag. Cold helps to relieve irritation from your skin by calming nerve endings, and tea helps to relieve itching and promotes healing.
A study from 2012 into the healing effects of tea found that compounds in black and green tea have an astringent effect. This helps to reduce itching in irritated, inflamed skin. 9 However, you don’t just have to use black or green tea bags. Research has also found that chamomile has soothing properties and is just as effective as hydrocortisone creams (often prescribed by doctors to reduce itching in insect bites). 10
How to use:
To quickly get rid of the irritation that bed bug bites cause using a cold tea compress, this is what you should do:
- Put a tea bag in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes. Remove the bag and cool it in the refrigerator.
- Place the tea bag on the red itchy bumps to relieve discomfort and irritation.
- Apply the cold compress 2-3 times a day for fast relief from bed bug bites and bed bug rash.
Aloe vera also has properties that reduce itching and help to speed up the healing time of a bed bug bite. Aloe vera contains many properties to nourish your skin and relieve inflammation and irritation.
One study into the healing properties of aloe vera found that it has a soothing effect on irritated skin. It was found that aloe vera was just as effective as hydrocortisone creams in reducing itching and inflammatory responses in the skin. 11
How to use:
Aloe vera gel is great for helping bed bug bites to heal faster. This is what you should do:
- Use aloe vera gel with as few added ingredients as possible and liberally apply some gel to the bite marks.
- Massage the gel into the area around the bed bug bites to soothe the skin and stop itching.
- Apply the natural remedy 2-3 times a day to help your skin heal quicker and get welcome relief from the constant itching.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil will help to treat the itch in bed bug bites and help prevent secondary infections making the skin worse. Tea tree oil contains powerful antimicrobial compounds as well as properties that help to reduce inflammation and itching.
One of the benefits of using tea tree oil to quickly treat bed bug bites is that it helps soothe allergic skin reactions. For example, theBritish Journal of Dermatologyreported on a study into the antihistamine effect of tea tree oil. Histamine is released by the body as a response to allergens. It was found that applying tea tree oil to skin inflammation helped to soothe the allergic response fast. 12
How to use:
You can use tea tree oil as a spot treatment on one or two bed bug bites or you can mix a couple of drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil to apply to clusters of bed bug bites. This is what you should do:
- Put a drop of tea tree oil on the end of a cotton bud and apply to the itchy bed bug bite.
- Apply 2 times a day to help stop itching in the bite marks and prevent bacterial infections affecting the skin area.
For large clusters of bed bug bites, you can get relief by adding 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil. Apply 2-3 times a day to help your skin heal and treat any bed bug bite blisters that have formed.
You can also use tea tree oil to make a natural spray for bed bug eradication.
Other ways to get rid of bed bug bites quickly
There are many other natural ways to get rid of the visible signs of bed bug bites. Here are some more ways.
Witch hazelis a natural astringent that quickly soothes itchy skin and reduces redness. Witch hazel is perfect for treating bed bug bites and can be applied whenever your bite marks start itching.
Apple cider vinegar, when it is diluted with water in equal proportions, helps to reduce itching and kill germs in bed bug bites. Just apply diluted apple cider vinegar to the affected area to stop itching fast.
Cucumbershave an amazing soothing effect on the skin and will give you instant relief from itching and irritation. All you have to do is apply slices of cool cucumber to your bite marks.
For more information on these natural bed bug bite remedies and to find out some more effective ways to treat bed bug bite signs at home, please read my article on natural ways to make bed bug bites heal faster.
How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites
Of course, preventing an infestation of bed bugs is much easier than having to deal with the discomfort bed bug bites cause.
The CDC says that one of the best ways to prevent bed bug bites is to regularly check your bed, mattress, and bed linen for signs of bed bug activity. This can help you get rid of bed bugs before they become a major problem. 3
Also, you should be careful of buying second-hand furniture. The National Health Services warns to avoid buying second-hand mattresses and if you do buy used furniture, carefully inspect it for bed bugs. 5 Remember, that in the right conditions, bed bugs can live for many months without feeding!
Read my other related articles:
- WebMD. Bedbugs.
- EPA. Bed bug appearance and life cycle.
- CDC. Bed bugs FAQs
- MayoClinic. Bedbug symptoms.
- NHS. Bedbugs.
- MayoClinic. Mosquito bites.
- WebMD. Pictures of bed bug bites.
- eMedicineHealth. Bedbugs.
- EPA. How to find bed bugs.
- Phytojournal. Tannins are astringent.
- OWM. 2011;57(5):28-36.
- Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2008;21(2):106-10.
- Br J Dermatol.2002 Dec;147(6):1212-7.
Bedbugs Slideshow: An Informative Look at Bedbugs
DonвЂ™t Let the Bedbugs Bite
As if you needed something else to worry about, bedbugs, those pests from the old bedtime rhyme are making a comeback. More of a nuisance than a health hazard, theyвЂ™re showing up to suck blood from people in hotels, college dorms, and hospitals. Take an informative look at bedbugs: what they are, where they lurk, and how to spot them before they get you.
Know the Enemy
Bedbugs are small, flat, wingless insects with six legs that, like mosquitoes, feed on blood from animals or people. They range in color from almost white to brown, but they turn rusty red after feeding. The common bedbug doesn’t grow much longer than 0.2 inches (0.5 centimeters) and can be seen by the naked eye to the astute observer.В Bedbugs get their name because they like to hide in bedding and mattresses.
Am I at Risk for Infestation?
Bedbugs are most often found in hotels, hostels, shelters, and apartment complexes where lots of people come and go. Because bedbugs hide in small crevices, they can hitch a ride into your home on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes, and other objects. Bedbugs are found worldwide, but are most common in developing countries. Once rare in North America, they may be on the rise due, in part, to increases in international travel.
These nocturnal creatures can hide in beds, floors, furniture, wood, and paper trash during the day. We humans usually become their dinner during the night, with peak biting activity just before dawn.They can obtain their meal in as little as three minutes, after which they are engorged and drop off the host, then crawl into a hiding place to digest their meal. Bedbugs can live for 10 months, and can go weeks without feeding.
Signs and Symptoms of Bedbug Bites
Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don’t feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. The first sign of bedbugs may be itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites.
Bedbug bites do not usually require treatment. If a secondary infection occurs (usually from scratching), apply a local antiseptic lotion or antibiotic cream or ointment. Creams with corticosteroids and oral antihistaminesare used for the primary, unbearable symptom of itch. In these more severe cases, you may need to see your doctor.
Do Bedbugs Transmit Diseases?
Bedbugs are more of a nuisance than a health hazard. In a recent study, researchers reviewed 53 recent studies on bedbugs and their health and medical effects. The results showed that although bedbugs have been blamed for the spread of up to 40 different human diseases, there is little evidence to suggest they are carriers of human disease.
Bedbug or Imposter?
Don’t assume your bites are bedbugs. Bites can be hard to identify, even for doctors. Rule out mosquitoes, fleas, mites, and biting gnats by conducting a visual inspection. It’s best to collect and identify bedbugs to confirm bites. Look for the bugs themselves or their bloodstains, especially along the seams of mattresses. Further, look for dark spots of insect waste where bedbugs might crawl into hiding places on furniture, walls, and floors.
Bite Back Against Bedbugs
Professional exterminators should get involved right off the batвЂ”tell your landlord, super, hospital administrator, hotel owner, or you call a professional right up front. The exterminator will locate the bed bugs (which may be found in more than one location) and exterminate as needed. YOU will have to do a lot of laundry.В
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IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
(1) Getty Images
(2) Nigel Cattlin / Visuals Unlimited
(3) Brand X Pictures
(4) Mark Andersen
(5) В© Pulse Picture Library/CMP Images / Phototake — All rights reserved.
(6) Dr. Kenneth Greer / Visuals Unlimited
(7) Darlyne A. Murawski / National Geographic
(8) Courtesy of Orkin, Inc.
New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene.
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Lancaster County.
Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 17, 2018
This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
View our slideshows to learn more about your health.
Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs: A Look at Bed Bug Look-Alikes
Bed bugs are notorious bedroom insects, these little creatures are a common and a serious problem most people have either gone through or heard about it from a neighbor or the TV. There’s a reason for all the fuss about them and it’s that they can pose a real health problem, especially if you’re prone to allergies.
Finding that any kind of crawling creature has spent the night with you can be a shocking experience for anybody. Whether they are bed bugs or spiders, the moment is not pleasant at all and it needs to be addressed soon. But you have to know how to properly deal with these unwanted visitors since the treatment is different for each case and not all insects are the same.
So it’s important to understand your enemies more before you face them.
How serious is a bed bug infestation?
Bed bug bites can cause a number of health issues. These include skin rashes, allergic reactions, and even completely understandable psychological effects. Serious infestations can cause anxiety, insomnia, stress, and even, in some cases, they can cause an obsession with bed bugs.
The symptoms can sometimes not be seen, they vary from person to person, but generally, bites leave small reddish spots and depending on the person they could lead to more serious effects like intense itching and more prominent skin affections.
The picture above shows an example of bed bug bites.
Why do they bite?
Although the first thing most of us think when we see any kind of bug virtually anywhere is “it’s going to bite me”. The reason why is that most people think “because they’re bugs and that’s what they do”. However, not all bugs are a threat to humans and their diets vary, making some of those visitors look scary but are technically harmless.
Unlike cockroaches, ants, and other animals that search for human food or animal remains,bed bugs, like female mosquitoes, feed on blood.This is their main diet and the reason why they cause so much discomfort since their only aim is to literally suck the life out of you.
If you find out you’re the victim of a bed bug infestation, first you need to calm down. It’s not personal, and speaking of personal, personal hygiene has nothing to do with bed bug infestations so you can relax.
The way they reach your home can be any of the following:
- You inadvertently brought bugs or eggs stuck to your clothes or other personal belongings after visiting an infested place, or a place with nearby dwellings
- Brought in by visitors who have this problem at home
- Brought to your home by wild animals, like bats, rats or birds
Now the reason they have decided to colonize your bed is that this bug seeks warmth andit can sense the carbon dioxide expelled by breathinganimals and people. They follow these trails which eventually lead them to make you the perfect target to feed while you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep.
What do Bed Bugs Look Like?
As you can see in the picture above, bed bugs have small, oval, and flat bodies. They have no wings so they can’t fly (which is a relief), adults have that brown and copper color, and their bodies become elongated and red when they feed. Their size ranges from 4 to 5 mm and they walk slowly.
When they’re at their nymph stage, they’re much smaller and may be difficult to see; however, this insect is not microscopic as common belief suggests.
Bed Bug Look-Alikes
There are a couple of insects that can be easily mistaken for bed bugs and, although no kind of insect is nice to have in your bed, it’s important to recognize them so you can know well how to proceed.
Here’s a list of the most common bugs you can find at home that look like (but are not) bed bugs.
The bat bug is so similar to bed bugs that their names even rhyme. These two as closely related so it’s important to know the differences.
Bat bugs are usually found inbat nestsand abandoned places, they feed on those animals generally, but when bats fly to towns or cities, carrying the bugs on their skin, they can infest homes and start feeding on humans. Bat bugs are also parasitic insects so they feed on blood.
Their bodies are a darker brown than bed bugs and their legs are slightly thicker. However, because of their similarity, it’s very difficult to distinguish them from bed bugs with the naked eye. A recommendation is to catch one of them, put them in a bag and take them to an expert, or a doctor for its examination to determine the culprit.
Bat bugs can survive months without eating; however, they will eventually leave if there are no food sources. To get rid of them you must get rid of bats by closing off every possible bat nest. The treatment for bat bugs is generally done with the same chemicals used for bed bugs.
The Book Louse
This lousy critter, also known as a psocid, can be a nuisance in big numbers and, although they are clearly different in color from bed bugs, they can be confused because of how difficult it is to identify them at plain sight. They have three body segments and their color is generally translucid or light brown.
They can be found around boxes and moldy areas, and places with food—especially cereals. They look for warm and moist places so you need to keep moisture at a minimum in your house to make it unappealing for these critters.
Fleas can cause terrible infestations if not controlled in time, because of their reproduction speed and durability. They can’t fly butthey can jumpa lot. Adults are about 3 mm long and their bodies are brown and flattened sideways. Their overall body shape isnot so similar to bed bugsand the fact that they can disappear from your sight in the blink of an eye (when they jump) is a clear giveaway.
Their bite can cause intense itching and swollen itching spots. In animals, they can cause loss of hair after extended damage to the skin. Fleas are especially harmful because they arevectors for viral diseases,parasites, and bacteria.
Fleas generally stick to pets butthey can attack humansas well. To get rid of this pest you must do a general cleaning of your house, wash your pet’s bedding and shower them using the proper chemicals to kill fleas. Their eggs remain in your pet’s skin and are immune to chemicals so they will hatch some weeks later when you will need to repeat the process.
The Cockroach Nymph
Cockroaches in their nymph stage are really small and of a light/caramel color. Their bodies are long and narrower when compared to a bed bug’s oval and shorter body and their antennae are longer.
Cockroach nymphs will always be found near warm and moist places, between cracks, and in dark areas. They come out at night and you can expect to find them in the bathroom and kitchen most of the times. They can trigger asthma or allergies and will contaminate any food they touch.
The Carpet Beetle
Carpet beetles are more similar to bed bugs in that their bodies are oval, short, and brown. The difference with this insect is that carpet beetles have wings—they can fly.
However, this beetle doesn’t feed on blood or attacks any animal. It’s normally harmless butsome people report irritationwhen exposed to its hairy body. Their larvae resemble hairy caterpillars and they can cause irritation on the skin.
This pest’s larvae can damage carpets, furniture, and clothing so it’s important to get rid of them before this happens. To eliminate carpet beetles first find the source of the infestation and remove them using a vacuum cleaner. The affected fabrics must be washed in hot and soapy water to kill the insect and its eggs.
An unfed tick (left picture) is small, brown, and looks more like a tiny spider, they possess strong claws they use to feed and prevent falling from their host. When they feed for long periods of time,their body grows as they fill with blood(right picture).
Yet another blood-sucking parasite you must get rid of as soon as possible. Tick infestations can be as bad as flea infestations; this pest is alsoa vector for Lyme’s diseaseand can cause other health problems. Adult female ticks can lay thousands of eggs at once, basically releasing thousands of these nuisances in no time.
To exterminate this pest, ask your veterinarian for the best products and solutions to kill them. Generally,keeping your pets cleanand checking their fur regularly to extract the ticks using tweezers, can help diminish and eventually destroy their population. When extracting ticks, never squeeze the big ones as it may cause them to regurgitate their contents back into the wound. This can infect the host with a disease.
How to get rid of bed bugs?
Now that you know better how to identify bed bugs, it’s a good idea to know how to eliminate them. First of all, you need to know where to find them, they can be found in all the places people use to rest, besides the bed as their name implies these places can be:
- Under desks or chairs
- Fabric (they can climb on clothing)
The recommended way to eliminate this pest is to follow an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, which consists of combining several methods and procedures to completely exterminate the issue. Here are some of those methods:
- Do general cleaning: Check the mattress, your bed sheets, the bed frame; check the carpets, sofas, nightstands and dressers
- Bed bug proof mattress covers: These can be used to cover infected mattresses to trap the bugs inside and wait until they starve. However it’s important to remember thatbed bugs can go for months and even a year without eating,so make sure the cover is properly sealed during all that time, or discard your mattress and buy a new one
- Insecticide treatment can be used; however, bed bugs are resistant to insecticide so sometimes thisis not as effective as expected.Pyrethroids are the most common effective insecticides used for bed bugs since their residual effect can help eliminate their eggs too
- Using heat to kill bed bugs is an effective method. Wash all clothing, plush toys, bed sheets, and everything you can wash, on hot water, reinforce this by using a dryer machine after. Another measure for clothing can be dry killing which is proven to successfully kill bed bugs
- Vacuum clean your house: This way you will remove both bugs and eggs that can be lying around the surfaces or carpets in your home
Both bed bugs and their look-alikes can be equally difficult to manage and get rid of. In these situations, what makes the difference is tostay calm and inform yourself about how to deal with these specific problems. There are tons of information on how to do it yourself and the procedures you can follow to handle this problem without the need of an expert.
Never forget that these infestationscan happen to anybody, it’s not a matter of being rich or poor so there’s no reason to feel embarrassed when dealing with this situation. You should act as soon as you can, following the best procedures to eliminate these pests and protect your family.
If you have seen anything like the creatures we’ve mentioned in this article, now you know how to identify the problemso prepare yourself and tackle it from the root now. It’s now your chance to exterminate that pest by your own methods before it gets worse. And, in any case, you can hire an expert to help you.