9 Signs Of a Bed Bug Infestation

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Bed bugs are one of the worst types of pests you can have at your home. They are great at hiding making them hard to spot, they reproduce quickly, and they feed on you. 

Unfortunately, If you have never had bed bugs, it can be hard to determine if do have an infestation. 

Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. 

In this post, I will review the 9 key signs you can look for to determine if you have a bed bug infestation. 

Let’s get started. 

1. Skin Irritation

allergic reaction bed bugs

If you have never had bed bugs before and are just getting them for the first time, skin irritations and allergic reactions are common.

This is not to be confused with bed bug bites. Bed bug bites are easy to distinguish because they usually consist of multiple small welts in a single area.

This skin irritation can be the result of a variety of different things.

The skin irritation can be due to being bit by a bed bug. While some people may not experience anything when bitten by bed bugs, others can break out in massive allergic reactions.

There are reports of allergic reactions to the stains, skin casings, and particles of bed bugs in other instances.

If you recently purchased used furniture, stayed at a hotel, or are sleeping in an unfamiliar location – you could have an allergic reaction due to bed bug particles that are suspended in the air.

This is not as common as other situations, but it could be a sign that there are bed bugs.

If you are experiencing skin irritations or allergic reactions and nothing else in your life has changed, I recommend you inspect the bed you are sleeping on.

2. Brown Stains

brown stains

Another sign of bed bugs is brown spots in common bed bug hiding places. These will typically take place around the bed or couch, depending on where the most activity is. 

These brown stains are fecal stains from bed bugs. They often go unnoticed due to how small they are and how easily they can blend in with bed sheets and other things in the bedroom. 

These stains are comparable to coffee grounds or black pepper splatters on a wall. As infestations grow, these stains will evolve from single coffee ground stains to large piles of coffee grounds. 

As infestations grow larger, these brown spots become more apparent. Since bed bugs tend to hide and group themselves together, the fecal stains will get larger and easier to spot. 

Some key places to look for brown fecal stains are: 

  • Mattress creases and folds
  • Under pillows 
  • On walls behind furniture 
  • Underneath mattresses 
  • Around boxsprings 
  • On bed frames 

During the early stages of an infestation, these brown stains will be found as close to the bed as possible. 

They can also be found in other areas of the home if this is where you spend most of your time, including sleeping. 

If you visit a location and find brown stains around the bed or around the room, there is a high chance that it is infested with bed bugs. 

3. Bloodstains / Blood Smears and Stains

bed bug blood stains

Bloodstains are one of the most common signs of bed bugs. Bed bugs survive solely on blood. This means that their only source of food is human blood.

These bloodstains happen after a bed bug feeds. As the bed bugs are returning to their hiding spot, we accidentally smash them in our sleep.

When we roll over or move our arm, you might accidentally smash a bed bug. The result is their entire abdomen bursting and releasing all the blood they just sucked out.

This can happen at the beginning of infestations as well as they get larger. This frequently occurs when infestations are extensive. You might find small dark red stains across your bed or pillow.

Bloodstains can also happen if the bed bug does not get smashed. Bed bugs are not the cleanest eaters.

After a bed bug feeds, they may leave a few drops of blood leak out of their abdomen as they return to their hiding spot.

These stains are typically much smaller compared to if a bed bug is smashed. But over time, the stains will become apparent on your bed sheets and pillows.

If you begin seeing small unrecognizable stains where you sleep, these are likely bloodstains from bed bugs.

One important thing to realize is that bloodstains only happen if a bed bug has fed on a human.

So if you see bloodstains on your bed, this is a sign that bed bugs have been feeding on you or a family member.

4. Dead Bed Bugs

dead bed bugs

Another sign of bed bugs is dead bed bugs lying around. Dead bed bugs can happen for several reasons.

As I mentioned above, the first can happen if the bed is accidentally smashed while we are moving in our bed.

This can also happen if bed bugs are hiding against the bed frame, and you move the bed, and it smashed them.

Dead bed bugs can also happen if bed bugs benign to die naturally. This is not as common, but it does happen. This is especially common in new infestations where the bed bugs who hitched hicked into your house are mature.

If you are entering a new location and you find dead bed bugs, this is a sign of an infestation.

Just because you find one dead bed bug does not mean that the infestation is gone. Bed bugs are resilient, and they can last over one year without feeding on a human.

If you see a dead bed bug, there are likely much more live bed bugs hiding, waiting to feed on you.

5. Musty Smell

The infamous smell. Bed bugs are known to produce a musty or mold-like smell.

The bed bugs scent gland produces this smell. The smell is comparable to coriander.

With smaller infestations, the small might not be noticeable unless you get close to a group of bed bugs.

As infestations grow larger and begin to expand, entire rooms can smell like bed bugs.

When the infestations begin to grow, the smell is often compared to the smell or mold, or wet dog, or wet items that have been sitting around for an extended amount of time.

This odor is not only present naturally but released as an alarm pheromone when they are disturbed.

If you begin looking for bed bugs by turning over your bed and removing your sheets, you might start to smell bed bugs.

This is one way that you know you are on the right track. Even if you don’t find the bed bugs, but the small becomes apparent.

6. Red Bumps Or Welts / Bed Bug Bites

bed bug bites on back

Bed bug bites are one of the most dreaded signs of a bed bug infestation. People often confuse bed bug bites with bits of other insects such as spiders, mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks.

There are some key differences between bed bug bites and those of other insects.

Bedbug bites look like welts. The symptoms for bed bug bites can appear anywhere between an hour and two weeks after the bite occurs. Like other insect bites, they are uncomfortable and itchy.

Most notably, bed bugs come in clusters and occur in a line or a zig-zag pattern. They are more likely to target your legs, back, and torso. Bed bugs rarely bite on neck and face unless you’re wearing pants and long sleeves.

It’s important to note that the reactions from bed bugs vary. People react differently to bed bug bites. Some people might not react to getting bit, while others might have a full allergic reaction in addition to the welts.

The most common and standard reaction to bed bug bites is red welts that appear on the skin.

7. Nymphs or Eggs

bed bug nymphs

Nymphs and eggs are another sign of an infestation. If you find nymphs and eggs, this is a sign of a growing infestation and means you should be concerned.

Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, go into five stages before becoming a full adult.

When bed bugs first hatch, they are only about 1.5 mm long. They have white, oval, and flat bodies.

The nymphs also have two antennas and six legs.

As they mature, they gradually turn from white to dark brown.

Females bed bugs lay their eggs in secluded places such as cracks, crevices, and foldings. These eggs are typically found in clusters.

One female generally lays one to five eggs per day and can produce five hundred eggs in her lifetime.

The egg is about 1 mm in length. That is about the size of two grains of salt.

They take about two weeks to hatch into a white baby bed bug with six legs and two antennae.

8. Adult Bed Bugs

One of the most apparent signs of a bed bug infestation is finding or seeing adult bed bugs. In most cases, even when you do have an infestation, bed bugs do an excellent job of staying hidden.

They typically do not come out at night and only come out when they need to feed. Since they have host recognition capabilities, they will only come out when they feel you in your bed.

This makes them very hard to spot if you are not looking for them.

If you start seeing adult bed bugs frequently crawling around in your room. This is a sign that there you have a large infestation.

With large infestations spotting adult bed bugs is usually very easy if you look in common bed bug hiding spots

9. Discarded Shells

bed bug shells

There are two types of shells that you can find. The first is shells from the exoskeleton of bed bugs.

As bed bugs transition from nymphs to adults, they go through 5 different molting phases. After each one of these molts, the bed bug will leave an empty shell of their body. 

If you continue seeing discarded exoskeletons, this is a sign of a growing population. This means that many nymphs are growing and turning into adult bed bugs.

This means that there will be more adult bed bugs to continue laying eggs and growing the population.

The other type of shell you may find are shells of bed bug eggs.

These are much harder to find since they are small, very small. Eggshells are easiest to find if they are against a dark surface. These eggshells will look like small specs of salt littered around your room or furniture.

The main difference between salt and bed bugs eggs is that the eggs have an adhesive that keeps them in position to where the bed bugs placed them. 

This generally keeps eggs in a localized region even after they hatch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?

Bed bugs tend to hide in groups or near each other. 

This is typically in undisturbed areas around your bedroom or other parts of your home. 

They tend to hide near their host to make feeding as easy as possible. 

This is why they tend to hide in seams, crevices, and folds in the fabric, furniture, and drapery.

The most common locations bed bugs hide are in bedrooms or where humans tend to spend a lot of time.

Below are some common locations where bed bugs tend to hide.

  • Mattresses seams and folds
  • Underneath mattresses
  • Under box spring
  • On box spring seams and fold as well as inside boxsprings, especially on the wood.
  • On wood crevices on box spring
  • Bed covers
  • Pillow covers
  • Drapery and curtains
  • Small crevices or gaps on the bed frame
  • Dressers and nightstands
  • Other furniture near beds or couches
  • Lamps
  • Walls
  • Behind hanging pictures and other hanging items.
  • Holes or crevices on walls or floorboards.
  • Inside couches
  • On carpet
  • On chairs and other furniture
  • Window sills

How To Find Bed Bugs?

The best way to make sure you find the bed bugs in your home is to use the right tools. 

High tech or expensive tools are not necessary to find bed bugs. 

Tools that make bed bugs easier to see and get into crevices will make your life easier. 

Below is the list of tools necessary before inspecting for bed bugs:

  • Gloves

For safety reasons, always wear gloves when inspecting for bed bugs.

During your search, you may come in contact with droppings, blood, and live bed bugs.

Wearing gloves will prevent you from coming in direct contact with any bacteria caused by bed bugs.

  • Flashlight

A flashlight will make it easier for you to spot bed bugs in seams, small crevices, and folds.

  • Magnifying Glass

A magnifying glass will help you spot baby bed bugs and bed bug eggs.

Bed bug eggs and baby bed bugs are around 1mm in length, making them hard to spot with the naked eye, especially if it’s your first time doing so.

  • Collection Containers

Collection containers will help store the bed bugs in a safe location for easy identification.

Proper identification of the insect in your home is essential to proper treatment.

The common bed bug is often the bed bug that infests homes. 5 other species could potentially get into your home as well.

Many other insects look like bed bugs, which can sometimes make it hard to identify bed bugs accurately.

  • Forceps or Tweezers

Forceps or tweezers will allow you to catch bed bugs and place them inside your collection containers.

  • Metal Probe or Credit Card

This will help you drive bed bugs out of small crevices, folds, and seams.

You can use Probes and old credit cards to slide into bed bug hiding spots. 

This will disturb the bed bugs and encourage them to crawl out, or they will fall out, and you either kill them or capture them. 

How to Treat Bed Bugs?

There are several different ways you can treat bed bugs. 

Common treatments include:

  • Washing, Steaming and Vacuuming
  • Heat Treatment 
  • Mattress Encasement 
  • Fumigation 
  • Chemical Insecticide 

 

Washing, Steaming, and Vacuum Treatments

This treatment process involves washing all fabrics, sheet covers, and drapery where bed bugs are located. 

Items need to be washed on hot and dried on high temp to kill any bed bugs hiding inside. 

The second step using a steamer on all major furniture where bed bugs are hiding. 

Steamers can reach temperatures up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which can kill bed bugs instantly. 

Using the steamer to steam all major hiding places for bed bugs. 

The final steps is to vacuum up all crevices, folds, and seams where bed bugs hide. 

This does two things: 

  • It picks up any dead bed bugs. 
  • Removes any remaining bed bugs that the steamer missed. 

Vacuuming is an excellent way of removing a large number of bed bugs, eggs, and shells skin quickly.

 

Heat Treatment 

Extreme heat is fatal to bed bugs.

And heat treatments take advantage of this.

Heat treatments increase the heat in structures, rooms, and items to a temperature lethal to bed bugs and eggs.

When treating smaller infestations you can use heat chambers to treat furniture and smaller 

 

Mattress Encasement 

Mattress and box spring encasements can be a great way to control bed bugs.

Encasements create a barrier between you and the bed bugs living in your mattress.

They are great if you are looking for an inexpensive and quick solution for your bed bugs.

Encasements are also great to use if you do not want to dispose of heavily infested mattresses.

 

Fumigation 

Fumigation treatments release fumigant gas into bed bug-infested areas to control bed bugs in all life stages.

The great thing about fumigation is its ability to penetrate areas that are difficult to access, such as tiny folds, seams, and intricate fabric.

That said, fumigation requires extensive preparation.

You’ll need to vacate all living things in your home until all traces of the fumigant have dissipated.

Fumigation also requires professional assistance, which can be costly.

 

Chemical Insecticide 

When using insecticides, make sure to read and follow all label instructions.

Pay special attention to what type of furniture, surfaces, and materials is the insecticide safe to use

You’ll also want to pay attention to how long it takes before re-application and follow accordingly. 

How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Spreading?

The best way to prevent bed bugs from spreading is to take immediate action. 

First, any rooms with bed bugs need to be completely cleaned.
This includes linens, pillowcases, and any other blankets that were exposed to bed bugs.

The second thing you need to do is decide on the method of treatment you want to take. There are several different approaches you can use to treat a room to prevent the spread of bed bugs.

Regardless of the type of treatment, it’s crucial that it begins as soon as possible.

When you do treat the room, it’s crucial that you are very careful when removing any items from the infested areas.

Any time should be properly covered and sealed using plastic bags or other forms of protection.

This is because bed bugs can fall off furniture, bedsheets, and even mattresses when you are cleaning. This will spread them to other rooms.

As you go through treatment, these bed bugs will survive, and they get the chance to rebuild the population.

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