Many of us were put to bed as children with a recitation of the old singsong rhyme “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
Your humble author had an active imagination. It was not hard for me to imagine legions of tiny eldritch horrors emerging out of the cracks and crannies of my room and converging on my bed to swarm me with their tiny, razor-like teeth filled mouths. In the dark, every sound was them scurrying across the floor and every little itch I had was evidence that they were coming. Once they got to me, they’d eat me alive and all that would be left of me for my grief-stricken parents would be a skeleton.
Panic often ensued. Those were long nights for both me and my parents and that charming little rhyme soon disappeared from our nightly routine.
Perhaps you are and were more rational and level-headed than I was. That being said, I don’t doubt for a second that bedbugs nevertheless disgust you and that they’re a pest you’d much prefer to never have to live with. And for good reason!
If you’ve ever wondered “Do I have bed bugs?” then this guide will help. In this post, we’ll be talking a bit about how to check for bedbugs in your home.
Why be concerned about bed bugs at all?
Bedbugs will certainly not eat you in the sense that my childlike imagination believed they would, but it is absolutely true that the nasty little bugs do feed on the blood of animals, including humans.
Bedbug bites can cause discomfort, irritation, and itching and they’re unsightly. However, we wish to emphasize that bedbug bites are not lethal and bedbugs are not known to spread disease.
That being said, they’re still gross and unpleasant. If you’re the sort of person who can’t stand the idea of insects being near or on you while you are sleeping, a bedbug infestation can cause anxiety or sleeplessness. Bedbug infestations are more of a quality of life issue as opposed to a health issue.
Fortunately, it’s a treatable issue. So are you curious to know how to tell if you have bed bugs? Here are a few key things to look for.
How do you detect bed bugs?
Sign #1: You actually see live bed bugs
This is obvious, but we thought it was important to mention it anyway: if you see bed bugs, you have bed bugs. Much like cockroaches and other insects, if there’s one, there are most likely more.
Bed bugs are small (adults are 4mm to 5mm long), but they’re still visible to the naked eye. They’re flat, they have a small head and thorax and a large, oval-shaped abdomen. They have six legs, two antennas, two black, beady eyes and a rusty brown color except for when they’ve just fed when they take on a more reddish color. Bedbugs cannot fly, so if you see a suspected bed bug flying, it’s not a bedbug.
Sign #2: Bed bug shells
Like other insects, bed bugs molt. This means they cast off body parts (in this case, their shells) during different segments of their lifecycle. The molted shells are translucent and shaped like the body of the bedbug during the completed cycle. This means that bedbug shell casings don’t always resemble an adult bedbug.
If you find shells in places that bed bugs like to hide (more on that later) then it’s a good sign that you might have an infestation. If you’re not sure, a pest control expert can determine with certainty if the shell belongs to a bedbug or not.
Sign #3: Blood stains
As we mentioned earlier, bed bugs feed on animal blood. Sometimes the blood of the animal (or person) that the bedbug is feeding on leaves stains. This usually happens in one of two ways.
The first is that when a bedbug feeds on someone, they sometimes get squished which leaves the blood that they just consumed on the spot where it happened.
The second way has to do with the way bed bugs feed. When they bite a person, the bedbug injects a mild anticoagulant into the host to keep the blood flowing while the insect feeds. Since the bugs are small and so are the entry wounds they leave, the wound generally seals up pretty quickly, but the anticoagulant does mean that the wound can continue to bleed for a few moments after the bedbug is done feeding. This will leave small stains
You will want to examine your pillows, bedsheets and pajamas. If you see tiny blood stains on any of these linens or garments (especially ones that correlate with the locations of bite marks) that is a strong indicator that you may have a bedbug infestation.
Sign #4: Fecal stains
Another sign of bedbugs is that you keep finding their fecal matter and/or strains. Like us, bed bugs defecate. They often do so where they hide or even the places that they eat (on our beds).
Gross, right? It is, but if there is an upside it’s that you can use it as a sign to identify the problem and eliminate it.
How do you identify bed bug feces? Since bedbugs feast on blood, their fecal matter is black. If you see a lot of small black marks, often about the size of a pen tip, on your bed or near a place where bed bugs hide, that may be where one or more of the little pests went to the bathroom.
Since it is digested blood, it often stains the fabrics it touches. If you wash a blanket with these black spots and the blanket comes out with the black marks smeared, it’s probably bed bug feces.
Sign #5: bedbug eggs
Seeing bedbug eggs is a virtually sure sign that you’ve got an infestation. Like bedbugs themselves however, bedbug eggs are quite small. They’re visible with the naked eye, but they can be very easy to overlook. Even if you do see them, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might mistake them for something else.
What do bedbug eggs look like? They’re small, (~1mm in length), oval shaped and pearly white. You’ll usually find them where they nest, so there may be molted shells and even adult bed bugs very close by.
The eggs themselves are quite fragile and can be easily squashed but that will simply slow the growth of the infestation, not eliminate it.
Sign #6: insect bites on your body
When bedbugs bite a person to feed, they have to make an opening on the body to extract blood. This often (though not always) leaves marks. Bedbug bites leave small, red and itchy bumps, sometimes in clusters, which appear overnight.
Bedbugs can feed from any part of the human body, but arms, hands, and legs are the most common places to find the marks they leave.
Bite marks are usually the first sign that people have of an infestation, but as we mentioned in that aside above, not everybody shows signs of bedbugs bites so if you see other signs but no bite marks, it’s worth your time to investigate anyway.
How to check for bedbugs: go to the source
Bedbugs are well-traveled pests.
They’re found virtually everywhere on Earth and are remarkably able hitchhikers, sneaking into people’s luggage or clothing and then taking up residence when their new human hosts get home. Close proximity to a structure with a bedbug infestation can also be a source of bugs.
Despite what many may think, a lack of personal hygiene or an unkempt home are not causes of bedbug infestations.
If you’re concerned that you have a bedbug infestation, it will do you well to examine where bed bugs tend to live in your home.
Start with your bed and the furniture nearby. Bedbugs can often be found between the seams of mattresses, in the corners of joints on furniture, and even inside of electrical outlets. Bed bugs tend to live in clusters of adults, juveniles, and eggs, so when you discover a nesting ground, you’ll most likely recognize it.
Putting your bedbug problem to bed
Once you’ve confirmed that you have bed bugs, you’ll most likely want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Finding them is easier than eliminating them. Fortunately, there are a number of highly effective options that can eliminate a bedbug infestation.
We have many solutions to help! Get in touch with us and we can help you confirm the presence of bedbugs and then eliminate them entirely.