Identifying the potential presence of bed bugs in your home or business is crucial to ensuring an infestation doesn’t get out of control. While you may not see bed bugs themselves unless you perform an in-depth search for their hiding places, there are plenty of other signs that can point to their presence.

Appearance & Visible Traces

Bed bugs are tiny, flat, six-legged, oval-shaped insects that are the size of an apple seed. Adult bed bugs are about ¼ inch long and brown or reddish-brown in color. If they have been regularly feeding on blood, they may appear swollen, elongated, bright red and shiny. Newly hatched nymph bed bugs are colorless and range from 1-5mm in length.

Even though you probably won’t find them unless you search for them, bed bugs still leave physical evidence of their presence on furniture, mattresses and walls. This evidence can include:

  • Tiny brown spots of fecal matter left on or around a bed or piece of furniture
  • Molted exoskeletons or egg cases from nymph bed bugs, both of which appear pale white in color after being discarded.
  • Bed bugs in various forms, including live specimens, carcasses, or dead bed bugs

There are also other pests that you might see in your home that look like bed bugs. Before you come to the conclusion that you have a bed bug infestation, read about other pests that are often mistaken for bed bugs here.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs feed on blood from humans and other animals typically while they sleep. Their mouthparts inject a numbing substance onto the skin that keeps the food source from noticing the bite. The bed bug will then proceed to feast on blood, and may move on to other parts of the skin to finish up. If a bed bug is disturbed, or if they are not successful feeding initially, the bed bug will move on to other promising spots to feed. This is why when an individual experiences a bed bug bite, they often have more than one. Keep in mind that having several bed bugs bites does not necessarily indicate the presence of more than one bed bug.

Bed bug bites are often small, but may become itchy, red and swollen welts depending on your reaction to them. They also may only become visible two to three days after the bite, and half of the population will not react at all.

Hiding Places

Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, so not only will they hide in your home, they will also move from place to place by hiding in luggage, on clothing and on pre-owned furniture and home goods. However, bed bugs are also creatures of habit, so there are a few places you’re likely to find them if you’re going to find them at all:

  • Behind headboards and bed frames
  • In the folds and seams of mattresses and box springs
  • In furniture upholstery
  • Inside crevices in walls and baseboards
  • Behind frames or pictures on walls
  • Behind electronic devices like TVs

It’s especially important to be wary of bed bugs if you’re traveling, because no matter what kind of establishment you spend the night in, it could have bed bugs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to always check a rented room for bed bugs before staying in it overnight.

To make sure you don’t become the one who brings bed bugs home or allows them to travel from place to place, make sure you check your luggage for stowaways. Once you’re finished with your travels, wash all your travel clothing with hot water and dry on high heat  to kill any that may have snuck in, and vacuum out your luggage before storing it. All it takes for a bed bug infestation to begin is one pregnant female bed bug finding a place to lay eggs undisturbed, so do your best to stay aware of what’s in your luggage when you travel.

What To Do About Bed Bugs

The first thing you should do if you find evidence of bed bugs is call a pest control company. While the internet is full of tips that advise you on how to get rid of bed bugs, these insects are hardy creatures that are highly resistant to DIY pest control measures. While some home remedies may work temporarily, you’re more likely to allow the problem to become worse by not taking immediate professional action. Our inspections are always free, so you can receive an analysis of your potential bed bug infestation before committing to any particular pest treatment. You can learn more about our pest management techniques on our website. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule a free inspection!