how to check for bed bugs
HOW TO FIND BED BUGs
Bed bug bites are not the only sign of an infestation. This page has many pictures of what bed bug bites look like and teaches you how to find bed bugs wherever they may be hiding, including in your mattress, other furniture and on you! Before treating for bed bugs, it is best to ensure you actually have them. Depending on your infestation level, that could be tricky or it could be self evident. The key is to know how their physical symptoms manifest themselves: What the bug itself, bed bug bites, eggs, molts and nests actually look like and their most common hiding places in your home, furniture or personal items. If you are not sure how to tell if you have bed bugs, a little detective work can go a long way to confirming their presence in your home. Please read our in-depth article on How To Check For Bed Bugs here.
1. bed bug Bites: Check Your Body
First, what do bed bug bites look like? Check out our bed bug bite pictures! They are initially painless due to a saliva-like numbing agent injected into you by the bug as it feeds. In some cases, bites will develop into raised, itchy red welts almost immediately. In other cases, it can take a week or two for the bites to manifest themselves. It all depends on how allergic you are to the numbing agent injected into your body. To compare, bed bug bites vs mosquito bites are very similar in nature, however bed bug bites typically appear in groups of three ("breakfast, lunch and dinner"). Additionally, bed bug bites vs. flea bites are regularly mistaken for each other, so if you are not sure, further exploration is needed as we show you how to check for bed bugs on this page. Hairless areas on your body are preferred by the bug, so your inner arms, shoulders, neck, back and feet can be common biting locations, but any area of easily accessible, exposed skin while you are sleeping is target. Bed bug bites on your face are quite common since the bug will many times be nested in your pillow case or in the headboard, making your face or neck an easy target for them.
It is impossible to confirm if you have bed bugs by bites alone, but they are typically the first evidence that something is wrong and absolutely deserves further exploration. And for good reason: What are these marks, where did they come from and what are they doing to me? Rest assured, bites are not known to transmit disease, but they are unsettling to say the least. As many as 30% of all people have absolutely no reaction bed bug bites and according to BedBugs.org, the majority of those over 65 years old have no reaction at all. It is absolutely possible for several people living in the same house, even two people sleeping in the same bed, where one shows bites and the other is not affected... even though both are being bitten. How long do bed bug bites last? Everyone is different since it is an allergic reaction, not actually a bite.
2. how to find bed bugs
1. Dark Fecal Matter Spots: Bed bug poop are pinhead sized black dots that bleed on a fabric surface, much like if you dotted the area with a black Sharpie marker. They are typically clustered together (especially beneath their nests), which will help you locate them, because of the nature of the bed beg to congregate closely in groups.
2. Blood Smears and Stains: Rusty or reddish stains on the bed sheets and mattress resulting from crushed bed bugs leaching blood from a recent feeding if you were to rollover on them while sleeping. Your sheets, pillowcases, pajamas and mattress seams are common places blood stains are found.
3. Skin Castings and Molts: As adolescent (nymph) bed bugs grow, they shed their skin and molt five different times before achieving mature adulthood. Skin castings are paper thin replicas of the bed bug itself, but are lighter in color and empty inside. The bed bug literally crawls out of its own skin as it advances in size. These molted shell casings are not typically found out in the open like blood smears and are more likely to be found where bed bugs hide between feedings, in their harborages (mattress seams, couch cushions, etc).
4. Eggs and Eggshells: Bed bug eggs are tiny but visible to the naked eye (1mm), shiny, milky white in color and are located both inside the harborage/nesting areas and occasionally found isolated away from the group. Females create a cement-like substance to help them adhere to surfaces, especially fabrics and wood (like a underneath a couch cushion, inside a suitcase or inside a bed frame). Empty eggshells are very symptomatic of a thriving multi-generational infestation.
3. what do bed bugs look like?
Nymphs: Adolescent bed bugs (Stages 1-5). The stage one nymph is very difficult to spot because they just hatched, have not had a blood meal and are absolutely tiny, 1/16" long AND almost clear (straw yellow). A magnifying glass will help immensely! As it feeds, it grows darker and larger each developmental stage.
Adults: Both males and females are darker red if they have not fed recently and brighter red just after feeding. Males are rounded in shape and females have a more pronounced oval shape. They are virtually flat, have small black eyes, antennae and six legs. Both can run rather quickly on horizontal surfaces.
4. where to check for bed bugs
The biological nature of the bed bug is elusive and nocturnal (peak activity usually occurs between 10pm - 6am). This makes it more difficult to detect them. They typically nest in groups of adults, adolescents and eggs just a few feet away from where we sleep (bed) and relax (couch). Due to their parasitic nature, they will only spend a tiny fraction of their life physically attached to their hosts (you) and will almost certainly be found in their harborage nesting areas. Don't be afraid to grab a flashlight, a credit card/playing card and wake up in the middle of the night do your inspection! Go slow and look for any evidence shown above.
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