How To Detect Bed Bugs In Your Home
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 To Find Bed Bugs
Need to know how to find bed bugs in your home or hotel room?Let’s walk through the inspection process step-by-step right now. It’s time to find out if you have bedbugs.
Before you can check for bed bugs in your home or hotel, you need to know what bed bugs look like, other signs you have bed bugs and where they hide so you know where to look.
How to Look For Bed Bugs Step-by-Step
If you follow these instructions, step-by-step, you will be just as likely as to find bed bugs (if they are present) as a professional.
Start with the bed.
This is the most likely place you’ll find bed bugs because they like to hide close to where they feed.Here’s how to find bed bugs there:
- Carefully pull back the bedding and look for signs that bedbugs have been around like blood spots and fecal stains.
- Thoroughly check the mattress, paying particular attention to edges, seams and air-holes. If possible, turn the mattress on its side to inspect the under-side too. Bed bugs are more likely to be closest to the head of the bed, but make sure you take a look at the foot end of the mattress too.
- Do the same with the box spring. You may have to cut or remove the gauze вЂњprotectorвЂќ on the underside of the box spring to take a good look inside вЂ“ but you need to do this (unless it’s not your bed, of course). Box springs are the #1 bed bug hiding place, so spend extra time doing a really thorough inspection here. This is where a flash light and magnifying glass become your greatest allies. Pay special attention to wooden joints, corners, screw holes and staples. The wooden slats make a very attractive place for bedbugs to lay their eggs and the area where the cover is attached to the frame is a favorite hiding spot too.
- turn your attention to the head board and bed frame. Remember to really look closely at any grooves in wooden headboards and pay attention to corners and joints. Don’t forget to pull the bed away from the wall and inspect the backside completely too.
Next, try to find bed bugs in any upholstered furniture.
This includes sofas, love seats, recliners, easy chairs, chaise lounges, and ottomans.Here’s how to find bed bugs in these items:
- Carefully remove all cushions and pillows and inspect them one by one. Paying attention to seams, tufts and piping. Also examine the zippers closely (this is another common place for bed bugs to hide and lay their eggs).
- Look in and around all the seams of the couch or chair itself. Don’t forget to lift up any skirting and check the underside – focus especially on pleats in the fabric and the seam that attaches it to the piece of furniture.
- Pull it away from the wall to inspect the back side as well.
- If at all possible (with the help of a friend or partner), lay it on its back side to inspect underneath/inside just like you did with the box spring.
Now, turn your attention to the night stands and dresser to see if you find any bed bugs there.
(You can also use the directions below for coffee tables, end tables and desks in other rooms of the house.)
- Take everything out and put it in a large garbage bag or plastic tub with a cover to reduce the possibility that they spread if there are bed bugs in those items.
- Pull the drawers completely out, one вЂ“ by one, and thoroughly inspect each one inside and out. Remember to check underneath as well. Like the headboard and frame, pay close attention to the corners, joints, screw heads and any grooves where bedbugs might like to hide or lay their eggs.
- Next, check inside, behind and underneath the piece of furniture itself. I think you know what I’m would say here about, corners, joints and crevices. (c’mon, I’m sure you need a chuckle by this point)
If you’ve gotten this far and found nothing.
You’ve checked thetop 92.6% of places where bed bugs are foundin residences with infestations according to a study conducted by the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky.
You also have all the skills you need to inspect the other places you might find bed bugs. You will find a list of more places to look for bed bugs here.
IMPORTANT NOTE:If at any point you find a live bed bug,STOP.Your inspection is done for now and you need to start working on your bed bug pest control plan.
Don’t jump the gun and grab for a bed bug spray can or fogger!That’ll just make things worse. much worse. Head over to the bed bug pest control section to learn what to do next.
How to Find Bed Bugs When You Travel
Obviously when you’re inspecting for bed bugs in a hotel or friend/relative’s guest room, you have to make some modifications. You really can’t tear the bed apart in a hotel room. And youcertainlydon’t want the folks you’re visiting to come-a-knockin’ askingвЂњeverything okay in there?вЂќ
Hotel rooms can present some special challengesbecause the bed frame and head board are usually affixed to the floor and wall.
Generally you won’t have access to the the box spring (if there even is one) so your efforts will need to focus on the mattress itself, the head board and anything within about 5 feet of the bed.
Also, don’t forget the luggage rack (never put your stuff there) and make sure to check any upholstered furniture like love seats and chairs.
When you’re staying with folks you know,discretionis the word of the day.You can hit the most common bed bug hiding places without making a ruckus. Focus on the mattress, visible parts of the box spring, and the headboard.
Consider how often/recently the room is likely used.If it’s been closed up since the last time uncle Chuck came through 6 months ago, chances are slim there will be bed bugs present (they would have migrated to where people in the house sleep or lounge). If it’s also used as a reading room, take a look at that big comfy upholstered chair.you get the idea.
Whether you’re on the road or at home, make sure you know how to find bed bugs without helping them spread.
How to Find Bed Bugs without Spreading Them
The last thing you want is for some of these little buggers to hitch a ride on your clothing while you’re looking for them. You’re going to be getting up close and personal with their hideouts, so this is a real possibility. Here are five ways to help you find bed bugs without letting them spread.
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Home Remedies for Bed Bugs
You take care of your house. You vacuum the rugs, clean the windows, and keep the bathrooms spotless. Guests visit, and they feel like a cleaning service makes daily trips to your house. Now imagine one morning you wake up to find that you have tiny bite marks on your body. Upon further inspection, you realize that there are small bugs in your bed. That’s right. Bed bugs.
What do you do?
Your first instinct might be to think that your house isn’t clean enough, but that may not be the case. Rest assured, bed bugs can come from several different places and are rarely a reflection of housekeeping skills. Here are some home remedies for bed bugs.
How Do People Get Bed Bugs?
Like most bugs, bed bugs come from outside the house. If you live in an apartment or any other shared living situation and have a bed bug infestation, it could be that they came from an adjoining apartment through cracks in the floors and walls.
Pesticide foggers like bug bombs don’t get rid of bed bugs, but instead, displace them– they go searching for a new home. For that reason, you want to avoid using bug bombs to deal with the infestation. I
f it makes you feel any better, if you live in a shared housing situation, it’s possible that your infestation is the result of one of your neighbors bug-bombing an infestation.
Introducingused furnitureto your house is another way bed bugs find their way inside. Be wary of used furniture, especially upholstery. Check and treat any pieces of furniture carefully before bringing them into the house. Check used clothing and books as well.
Even if it’s brand new, pay close attention to any furniture that has beenstored or transported in the back of a truck.
Finally, if you stay somewhere with bed bugs, they can also hitch a ride on you, your family, or your guests, either via your clothing or in your luggage.
How to Detect Bed Bugs
Bites on your skinare the first sign of a bed bug infestation. If you have unexplained bug bites, especially first thing in the morning, you might want to start checking around for other signs of an infestation.
Check your mattress for the visual signs of bed bugs. If you have them, you may see red or rust-colored stains, indicating crushed bed bugs.
Signs of Bed Bugs
- Tiny,Living Bugs
You might also see tiny black dots, which are bed bug excrement, and egg shells (around 1mm, a pale yellow color) resulting from the bed bugs reproducing. Finally, you may see the bugs themselves walking around.
Make sure you check every surface down to the box spring, and anything surrounding the bed as well. Check curtains, baseboards, behind wallpaper and even under the carpet. Bed bugs prefer fabric and wood to plastic and metal, so check any wooden furniture as well.
If you suspect you have bed bugs, call a professional exterminator to confirm it for you.
Bed Bugs and Your Health
Bed bugs bite because they live on blood, either human or animal blood. They feed on your blood for about ten minutes, then swell and turn red. Their bites are painless but can become itchy, but unlike mosquitos, they are harmless and do not transmit diseases.
However, if you scratch the bites, you can cause an infection. One characteristic of bed bug bites?
They are numerous, and they have a tendency to appear in straight rows. If you seemultiple bites arranged in a straight line, there’s a good chance you’re looking at bed bug bites.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
The best way to get rid of a bed bug infestation is tocall an exterminator. They’ve dealt with bed bugs before and know how to do a thorough enough job to keep them from returning. An exterminator is your best bet, just to make sure you take care of the problem completely.
However, there are some things you can do at home to get rid of bed bugs and to supplement a professional.
Treating an Infestation
Usehot waterto wash all clothes, linens and anything fabric that may have contacted the bugs. Heat will kill anything hiding in your linens. Use a dryer to dry everything as well, because a dryer will hit the bugs with a double dose of heat.
Just make sure you pay attention to the tags on the fabric, as your linens may be dry clean only. Dry cleaning can also kill bed bugs, but make sure you inform the dry cleaner of the possible infestation.
Treating an Infestation
- WashAll Clothes, Fabric and Bedding With Hot Water
- SteamYour Mattress and Box Spring
Once you’ve given your bedding the heat treatment, follow up by vacuuming all areas of the infested room(s).Vacuuming will remove any bugs from the nooks and cranniesin which they may be hiding.
Use a brush to loosen all bugs and eggs. Make sure you clean out your vacuum thoroughly afterward and dispose of any vacuum bags outside of the house. Use a steamer on things like your mattress and box spring. Steam will take care of remaining eggs.
Finally,coveryour mattress, box spring, and pillow in a completely closed bug-proof cover. Sealing up your bedding with a cover ensures that anything left will not be able to escape or feed and will eventually starve. Starvation can take up to a year, however.
Whether you’re looking to prevent bed bugs from re-infesting a room or looking to avoid one before it happens, there are a couple of things you can do. Start by making sure that your house isspotless.
Messy rooms and improperly stored items create a lot of places for bed bugs to hide, so the less attractive your home to bed bugs, the less likely you are to experience an infestation.
Preventing an Infestation
- Clean Your House
- Prevent Bed Bugs From Climbing Your Bed
- Make a Habit of Cleaning
- Inspect New Items for Bed Bugs
Remove bridgesfrom the floor to the bed. Keep bed bugs out of bed by keeping blankets from dragging the floor, and don’t use the bed as storage for anything.
Bed bug interceptors are relatively inexpensive and are placed under the feet of the bed, preventing bed bugs from reaching the legs and climbing to the bedding. Consider using them. Finally,prevention is ongoing. Clean often, checking for signs of a recurrence.
The earlier you catch bed bugs, the easier they are to clean out. Inspect all used items that you introduce to the house. When staying in a new place, check that bed for bugs. When returning from a trip, clean everything you took, including your luggage.
Home Remedies for Bed Bugs
The best ways to get rid of bed bugs are pesticides, heat treatment, and thorough cleaning, but there are a few home remedies that might help.
- Silica gel(the packets included in various products to ensure dryness) ground up and applied to affected areas will stick to the bugs and dehydrate them. Be very careful to avoid inhaling the silica gel, and it is probably best to avoid using it if you have pets or kids. Baking soda can also work for the same purpose.
- Tea tree oilin your laundry and sprayed in affected areas will repel bed bugs, as well as lavender oil. Mix lavender oil with eucalyptus and rosemary oils and water to make a repellent spray.
- Sprayingrubbing alcohol can kill some bugs on contact.
- Scented dryer sheetstend to deter bed bugs. Placing a layer of them on your bed may keep them from visiting you.
- Double-sided tape.Much like bed bug interceptors, double-sided tape prevents bed bugs from reaching your bed in the first place. Apply the tape to the underside of your bed near the legs and the bugs will get stuck on it. Just be sure to keep your blankets from touching the ground, or some of the bugs will be able to reach the bedding.
Bed Bug Removal Recipe
- Cayenne Pepper– 1 Tsp
- Ground Ginger– 1 Tsp
- Oregano Oil– 1 Tsp
- Water– 1 Tsp
You might have ingredients for this simple homemade bed bug repellent right in your kitchen. The strong smells of cayenne, ginger, and oregano repel bed bugs and other insects, too. If you know where the bed bugs are entering the room, use a mixture of cayenne pepper, ginger, and oregano oil to keep them away.
Mix the ingredients in water, strain it, and use a spray bottle to apply the solution at entry points. Make spraying a regular habit, and you’ll prevent the bugs from entering. To keep other insects from getting into your home, spray doorways and windowsills.
If you have bed bugs or are just worried about preventing an infestation, rest easy — there are plenty ofnatural bed bug repellentsand ways to kill bed bugs available.
Bed bugs can happen to anyone and even if you keep a tidy home, random variables, like your neighbor setting off a bug bomb next door, mean that an infestation can happen anytime.
In this article, you learned how to detect bed bugs, as well as a few home remedies for bed bugs, including how to repel bed bugs naturally.
Do you have a friend struggling with a bed bug infestation? Use the buttons below to share to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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."
How to Detect Bed Bugs
Detecting bed bugs can be difficult, as they are small in size and able to hide in tiny cracks and crevices. However, evidence of a bed bug infestation may be found in bedding and on mattresses. Live bed bugs leave clusters of dark brown or black spots of dried excrement on infested surfaces. Bed bugs also exude a subtle, sweet, musty odor.
Bed Bug Cluster
Where to Check for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs usually are found close to where people spend much of their time, and since bed bugs have flattened bodies, they like to get into small cracks and crevice near where people sleep. Examples include mattresses, box springs, headboards, footboards, bed frames and other furniture that is within 5-8 feet of the bed. Other common locations are cracks and gaps behind wall outlets, floor molding, window and door molding and where carpet edges meet the wall. Bed bugs have been known to occur in many different locations if their population is large and they have dispersed from their more common areas to areas where they are normally less likely to be found.
Bed bugs are easily transported into previously non-infested dwellings.
If you have detected a bed bug infestation within your home, contact a pest control professional to discuss treatment options.
Bed Bug Control
Cimex lectularius L.
Learn what bed bugs look like, and how to detect if you have a bed bug Infestation.
Find out how bed bugs infiltrate your home and where they are attracted to.
Learn about bed bug bites. their feces and how they can impact your health.
Learn how Orkin handles bed bugs, homeopathic cures and the cost of bed bug extermination services.