Bed bugs have been around for centuries but have recently resurfaced due to global travel and increased pesticide resistance. These insects can be found in hotels, offices, restaurants, schools, apartments, cars, and homes.
Bed bugs are pests that feed off your blood and can be found in mattresses, box springs, furniture, bed frames, headboards – even behind paintings on the wall! If you have noticed small red bumps on your skin in areas where a person might sleep or sit for long periods – you may have been bitten by bed bugs. This guide will discuss the signs to look for if you suspect that your home or office has a bed bug infestation.
Signs You Have a Bed Bug Problem
Visible bed bugs
Adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye. Adult bed bugs are the size of an apple seed. If they haven’t recently been fed, they are brown and flat. After feeding on blood, bed bugs are rusty-reddish in color and swollen. Bed bugs have wing pads but no functional wings. Insects that resemble bed bugs include booklice, fleas, and carpet beetles.
Stains on pillowcases or bedsheets
Bed bugs typically feed while the host sleeps, allowing them to feed for some time. Their bodies become engorged with blood. And if you roll or move while they’re on your body, you may inadvertently crush them. Therefore, the stains you may find on your sheets are your blood.
Dark spots on mattresses, sheets, carpeting, and walls
Bed bug excrement appears in tiny dark spots. The size won’t be much bigger than a marker tip. The feces are sticky with a tar-like consistency, and the reason why you’ll see them in areas where there are currently no active bed bugs. The excrement is a rusty dark brown color that almost looks black. It takes on this color because the droppings are dried blood. If the color is red, this indicates fresh blood and likely means a crushed bed bug that had recently been fed.
Bed bug remains
Bed bugs not only leave behind fecal stains but also their shells, eggs, and eggshells. When bed bugs develop to the next stage, they molt and leave their old skin. These casings are lighter in color and vary in size. You’ll often see them in clusters.
Bed bug eggs and eggshells are tiny. They are opaque and usually white. An individual egg is only about 1 mm long and barely visible to the naked eye. But because bed bugs can lay between one and five eggs a day, you will probably see eggs laid out in a small cluster. Some of the most common places to find bed bug eggs include mattress seams, box springs, luggage, and the back of the headboard. But bed bugs have also been known to lay eggs in clothing. If you like buying clothes at thrift stores or used garments, pay special attention to the inside seams.
Bed Bug Bite Marks On Your Body
Bed bug bites typically look like a small red bump. The center is usually darker than the surrounding area, indicating where the bed bug pierced the skin to withdraw blood with its elongated beak. Bed bug bites are often mistaken for other insect bites such as mosquitos, ticks, mites, spiders, and fleas. What makes bed bug bites distinct is that they tend to occur in a cluster or a line.
While a bed bug bite is itchy for most people, some have minimal reactions to bed bug bites. Your response to bed bug bites depends on your sensitivity and immune response. For most people, bed bug bites bring discomfort due to itchiness. Some people are hypersensitive to bed bug bites and have a severe fever, blisters, and irregular heartbeat. Difficulty breathing and tongue swelling have happened to those with an extreme allergic reaction to bed bug bites.
While bed bugs feed on any blood type, it’s true that some people get bitten while others don’t. There have even been reports that one person gets bitten a lot while their partner who sleeps in the same bed never gets bitten. There’s no clear explanation why this happens. Bed bugs may develop a preference once they’ve fed on a certain blood type. And they may continue to feed on that same host despite having other options.
Bed bugs, like many insects, release pheromones that help them communicate. Bed bugs use this scent to mark their territories so they can find their way back after they’ve left their hiding spot to feed. These hormones give off a smell and are strongest when the bed bugs sense they are in danger or the male attempts to mate. This also explains why bed bugs give off an odor when killed.
Generally, being able to smell bed bugs in your home indicates a large infestation. Because people smell things differently due to slight genetic differences in our olfactory receptors, we may not agree on what bed bugs smell like. Most people describe it as “musty” and have compared the smell of bed bugs to coriander, a damp house, old cheese, or smelly socks. Others have described bed bugs to smell sweet like berries and even crayons. While people describe the smell differently, they all agree that it is unpleasant.
Where Bed Bugs Prefer to Hide
Bed bugs prefer to hide in any crack or crevice. These are places where it’s dark, safe from light, away from direct contact with humans or pets, and have limited access to airflow. Bed bugs also prefer areas close to their food source, typically people sleeping in beds just a few feet away.
Bed bugs hide during the day when they’re not feeding. They can be found in many different places, such as a mattress seam, box springs, bed frame, headboards, bed linen, dressers, furniture, sofas, chairs, and even loose wallpaper. You may also find them behind picture frames, electrical outlets, and switches on the wall or inside of electronic equipment like televisions and radios.
Are bed bugs hard to get rid of?
There are many chemical-based pesticides sold on the market and used by exterminators. Unfortunately, bed bugs are resilient, and experts have discovered a bed bug strain resistant to conventional pesticides. Bed bugs are naturally immune to certain chemicals. Also, when bed bugs feed on people who have used pesticides, the pesticide gets stuck in their bodies, and they become resistant over time. The more exposure a bed bug has to these chemicals, the better they adapt to it until eventually, the chemical is no longer toxic or fatal to them.
Bed bugs reproduce at a rapid rate. They can lay up to five eggs per day, and these eggs hatch into nymphs within just six to ten days, depending on conditions such as temperature. Bed bugs reach adulthood in roughly 35-45 days which is why exterminators recommend treating your home every two weeks if you see signs of bed bugs because it’ll keep the population from rapidly growing.
Bed Bug Behavior
Bed bugs will seek hosts by detecting body heat, carbon dioxide, and body odor. Bed bugs can live for weeks or months without feeding under certain conditions. They will go into hiding when they’re not hungry. If you see one, there are likely many more nearby that you don’t see. They can move a few feet in under a minute, allowing them to move from room to room and even between buildings if they’re close enough. And since they feed on blood, bed bugs have a tendency to gather in groups when they’ve found their food source.
Call a professional pest control company if you suspect that your home has a bed bug infestation. The problem with eliminating bed bugs by yourself is the risk of exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. Many store-bought pesticides are toxic and hazardous to your health if mishandled. It’s also important to note that you may not be able to get rid of all the bed bugs in one go. And you expose your home, family, and pets to dangerous, potentially poisonous chemicals each time you use the pesticides.
Checking all the pests’ potential hiding spots is also tedious work. And professionals have the experience to locate infestations. Also, many do-it-yourself bed bug solutions only kill adult bed bugs. And without eliminating bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle, the eggs will ultimately hatch, and the infestation will begin all over again.
Bed bugs are small and have the instinct to survive by staying hidden. Therefore, you may not even realize that you have a bed bug infestation until the problem has gotten bad enough for the bed bugs to leave visible evidence or a distinctly unpleasant smell. Not only is finding all their potential hiding spots a challenge and a hassle, but store-bought insecticides are also rarely effective because of pesticide-resistant bed bug strains, bed bug behavior, and the pest’s ability to multiply rapidly.
VORTEX Bed Bug Solutions specializes in bed bug eradication. We use a 100% effective heat treatment that kills bed bugs at every stage of their life cycle. Our certified technicians use a zero-emission solution that is environmentally friendly because it’s chemical-free. Our method heats to the “kill zone” at 122°F in under 30 minutes, delivering a bed bug eradication program that is completed within 24 hours. Our process requires minimal preparation and, therefore, less disruption to your home or business.