Written by Robert - Certified Bed Bug Specialist
Learn some powerful tips if you think you have bed bugs in your home. In this article, we will show Florida residents how to check for bed bugs in their homes and tourists how to check for bed bugs in a hotel room. - Let's Get Started!
Our beautiful state of Florida is home to over 25 million residents. Florida also receives over 113 million tourists traveling here for vacations annually. And we certainly cannot forget about our northern snowbird friends that flock down during our winter months.
And why not? For tourists, Florida’s an escape from daily reality and for snowbirds, it is an escape from frigid northern winters. With our warm weather all year round, countless destinations to visit, beautiful beaches, many thousands of hotel rooms and camping grounds throughout the state… Florida is a no brainer to come for a visit… We get it.
However, a big problem exists with all of this travel from out of state, including and especially international travel. All these journeys are a major contributor to how bed bugs spread from hotel room to hotel room, house to house. In 2020, Florida officially became home to three of the top 50 bed bug infested cities: Tampa, Orlando and Miami/Fort Lauderdale. Congratulations to us all!
Bed bugs are sneaky. Insidious actually. They invade our homes and can feed on us for months without being noticed. When an infestation begins, these tiny insects crawl out of their hiding places while we sleep and stop feeding before we wake up. Often the only sign of their presence are the bite marks they might leave on our skin - not everyone is allergic to bed bug bites. This is not very comforting to say the least.
oh no! are these bed bug bites?!
Many bug bites in Florida look similar. Fresh bed bug bites are usually the first symptom someone will have that gives them that 'spidey-sense' indicating something is wrong, very wrong. Although when comparing bed bug bites vs flea bites, they can easily be mistaken for one another to the untrained eye. Same for bed bug bites vs mosquito bites. Flea bites are typically around your ankles only, especially if they are in your carpeting. Bed bug bites are typically on any hairless area of skin that exposed while sleeping. A major give away that you have bed bug bites is they will typically bite you in a series of three, clustered together or in a row. Many times, they will turn into painful and itchy red lumps. To complicate matters further, the CDC says about 25-30% of the population will have no reaction at all to bed bug bites! So a husband and wife sleeping in the same bed bug infested bed will many times debate about the presence of bed bugs, because “I am being bitten and you are not.” The reality is... both are being bitten but only one is having an allergic reaction.
Florida bed bug bites are no different than any other state, despite the fact that Florida has been infested by both the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) and their friends, tropical bed bugs (Cimex hemipterus). Both species of bed bug have been exploding in population size around the world and in our state, but tropical bed bugs in Florida are resurging after a 60-70 year hiatus. Large scale international travel is surely a primary culprit for this, but what does it all mean for you? Although insect bites in Florida can look similar, do you have bed bugs in your home?
what do florida bed bugs look like?
Searching for red bugs in Florida? Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped, brownish-red insects that feed on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs have a flat body about the size of an apple seed. However, after feeding, their bodies swell and turn reddish. Bedbugs do not have wings, so they cannot fly, but can move quickly across floors, walls and ceilings. Depending on the stage of the bed bug life cycle, bed bugs will vary in size. Female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs, each the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime. Pregnant female bugs are typically more elongated than their male counterparts. There are a handful of bed bug look alikes out there, so be aware of these traits.
Immature bed bugs, called nymphs, shed their skin five times before reaching maturity and require blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions, bed bugs can fully develop in just a month and produce three or more generations per year. There is a a bit of good news to pass along to you in this big sea of bed bug ugly: Do bed bugs carry diseases? No. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both the common bed bug and their tropical bed bug cousins are not believed to transmit disease. Check out more pictures of bed bugs on our Bed Bug Biology page.
how to check your bed for bed bugs?
I’m sure you are aware, but bed bugs are tiny and virtually flat, so spotting them will take some focus and your primary tools will be a credit card and a flashlight. They are most certainly not invisible. Know that bed bugs typically live within a five foot radius of your bed, couch or other location that people sit or sleep at for long periods of time, like a desk and video game chairs, for example. They are not nearly as likely to be spotted in the kitchen, bathroom and rooms that no one goes in often. So to begin checking for bed bugs, you will want to start in your bedroom.
how to check mattress for bed bugs?
how to check the bed frame for bed bugs?
Now that both the mattress and box spring are against the wall, this leaves only the bed frame remaining. Slide the frame away from the wall and thoroughly examine. Check every connection area, screw holes, stands, wheels, wooden slats (especially the Velcro kind). Check behind the headboard and, if you have wicker-like material, pay extra attention to that area. You may consider spraying some water on the rough surface since there are so many hiding places.
how to check furniture for bed bugs?
Next, turn your attention to the night stands or bedside tables. Remove the drawers and inspect them, especially the underside. Also check inside the now drawer-less night stand and the back side. Do the same for any dressers, desks or cabinets in the room.
signs: how to check for bed bugs in a room?
First take a quick glance around at every electrical outlet, the baseboards and where the ceiling and wall come together. Look for tiny black specks that resemble pepper. It is bed bug poop. Also check any curtains, rods and window blinds.
Also examine any paintings, behind picture frames, lamps, alarm clocks, hope chests, etc. that could be somewhat near the bed.
how to check for bed bugs in couch?
Once you are finished with the bedrooms, examine the couches. Carefully remove all pillows and inspect. Then do the same with the cushions, paying particular attention to the zipper areas, seams and where the pillows touch the couch itself. Pull apart all seams you can and slide a credit card through any buttons or crease areas.
Then, if applicable, extend all the couch recliners and carefully check underneath with a flashlight.
Lastly, flip the couch on its back and check the very bottom, like the box spring, remove any stapled mesh fabric and check the springs, the wood joints, etc. Go slow and be careful, using the flashlight.
Do the same thing for all computer desk chairs, video game chairs, dining room chairs, etc.
Finally: Check your luggage for bed bugs, check purses, brief cases, etc. for bugs as well. Once you have finished, launder your bedding and be sure to check your body for bed bugs! Check yourself, your shoes and belt in case a bug crawled or fell on you. Consider going the extra mile and bagging/laundering your current clothes and change into something fresh!
Checking for bed bugs in your Florida home is not difficult, but it does take some time to properly do. Just go slow and be methodical. Consider doing your inspection in the middle of the night, when bed bugs are most active. If you found any bed bug activity or signs at all, you must take immediate action. The live bugs are masters at hiding, so it is likely that you just missed them during your search. Bed bugs are known to infest many homes and in fact, one in five people will get bed bugs at some point in their lives. However, over time, they can scatter around the bedroom, getting into any crevice or protected area. They can also extend to adjoining rooms or apartments. Since bedbugs live solely on blood, their presence in the house is not a sign of dirt. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as you are in dirty ones.
And they are tiny, they can fit in any small and dark place in your home, contaminating your beds, mattresses and other fabric items whenever they get the chance. Most of the time, they go unnoticed, making them a dangerous pest lurking around waiting for their next blood meal.
However, since bed bugs live in colonies, the infestation will produce an odor that is somewhat similar to that of cilantro or coriander. They can become a serious infestation in your Florida home and fairly quickly. So if you want to get rid of bed bugs permanently, call your local Florida bed bug exterminator for assistance or consider the much more affordable solution: A bed bug heater rental to heat treat your home or bedroom for a 100% kill. Heat is what kills instantly and heat is the single most effective bed bug treatment available.
For more pictures, see our Bed Bug Detection page to help you further.