Bed bug infestations can vary widely in scale, size, and severity and each one looks a little different. There are dozens of active species of bed bugs in the U.S. and they can remain dormant in your home for months at a time without making themselves known.
So, how do you know when you have a bed bug infestation? And what should you do if you find one?
The first sign you’ve got a problem with bed bugs is likely going to come in the form of red welts or bites on your skin. Everyone’s body reacts differently to bed bug bites but they’re typically very itchy, concentrated on one or two areas, and can bleed. Particularly if you’ve got bites when you wake but you don’t see bugs, you may have a bed bug problem.
Bed bugs actually leave traces behind. It takes about a week for a bed bug to process its food source, during which time it will leave fecal remnants behind. Bed bugs may also leave small marks of blood behind as the move around, detach from your body, or even as they die.
Bed bugs are large enough that you can see them with the naked eye. They range in size from about 1mm to about 4mm if they’ve recently fed, depending on the species. They also shed their exoskeleton from time to time so you may find their shells during a visual inspection.
Where should you look for signs of a bed bug infestation? It all depends on the setup of your room and whether or not you’re even worried about them being inside your bed. Bed bugs can be anywhere! Couches, carpets, kids rooms’…nothing is off limits.
If you’re actively looking for signs of bed bugs, check the following spots:
- Along the seams of your mattress and in the folds of your sheets
- Along the baseboards of your room, particularly behind the bed
- Within the wooden frame of your box spring
- Along ceiling or wall joints and in nooks like picture frames and electrical outlets
Bed bugs can make themselves at home anywhere in your room, from the curtain rods to the subflooring. If you’ve seen signs of a small gathering of bed bugs you can bet there are literally thousands more where that came from. They’re notoriously difficult to get rid of – often requiring UV light treatment or complete suffocation – and you should take action immediately.
If you’ve seen any of the above signs, you’ve likely got a bed bug infestation. You should immediately remove all sheets and upholstery from the room for a hot-wash and contact a pest professional right away. Even with commercial tools and treatment methods, bed bugs are incredibly resilient so you’re never advised to take on an infestation by yourself. A bed bug infestation is the last thing you want to find in your home or a hotel room but the faster you act the less likely you’ll be dealing with itchy, painful bites.