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How To Check For Bed Bugs

July 04, 2022

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Bed bugs are tiny insects that live in areas where we sit still or lie down for an extended period of time. While we’re distracted, they leave their hidden shelters and come out to feast on blood. Would you know the signs of a bed bug infestation if you came across one? Luckily, we’ve outlined the signs of bed bugs and what to do if you find them.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on human and animal blood. When they are engorged after a blood meal, they turn a reddish color (which is a change from their typical brown). You can recognize bed bugs by their flat, oval-shaped bodies. Their body shapes allow them to fit into tight crevices, hide easily, and slip into a room undetected.

Bed bugs are commonly found in bed frames and mattresses because it’s easiest to bite people while they are asleep. However, any upholstered furniture or hidden spots near furniture are acceptable places for a bed bug to live. Unlike other insects, bed bugs don’t form nests. Instead, they live in groups that huddle anywhere in a room where they’re able to hide.

Bed bug bites look and feel a lot like mosquito bites. It may be hard to tell if you have a bed bug bite unless you find the actual insect or its telltale signs.

How to find bed bugs

There are some easy signs to help you identify a bed bug infestation before it becomes too difficult to treat.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Reddish brown blood stains on your upholstery or linens from squashed bed bugs
  • Tiny eggs (about 1 mm) and eggshells
  • Skin sheddings from immature bed bugs (known as nymphs)
  • Black dots the size of a bullet point (bed bug poop)
  • Actual bed bugs walking around your room
  • A strong, musty odor

Once you know the signs, it’s important to address the bed bug infestation. A female bed bug can lay as many as 500 eggs in her lifetime, which means that an infestation can easily grow if it’s left unchecked.

How to check a bed for bed bugs

Despite their name, bed bugs aren’t only found in a bed. You may also find them in office chairs, baseboards, carpets, and other furniture that is upholstered and near carpet. Check the seams of these items, too. Nightstands and dressers, although not covered in fabric or a place where you sit, can also house bed bugs. Picture frames, lamps, and other furniture in an affected room are worth a check as well.

Keep all the signs of a bed bug infestation mentioned above in mind as you look. You may opt to use protective gloves, a flashlight to check dark crevices, and a credit card to open and get into harder-to-reach areas. Bed bugs are attracted to warmth, so you can use a hairdryer on your bed or other furniture to see if it draws them out. If you’re still having trouble locating a bed bug, you can purchase a bed bug trap and see if you can find any inside.

What to do if you find bed bugs in your home

Here are some at-home remedies that you can try to get rid of bed bugs:

  • Washing bedding and affected clothing in hot water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Getting a bed-bug-proof cover for your mattress
  • Placing infected items in hot temperatures that exceed 95 degrees fahrenheit, preferably in a black bag to absorb all the heat over the course of a day
  • Freezing found bugs in an environment that reaches 0 degrees Fahrenheit, although this process will take about four days to complete.

While these tricks can work, they aren’t always possible to do effectively, especially in terms of reaching the hot and cold temperatures needed to kill bed bugs. If you spot a bed bug or signs of an infestation, a pest control service can easily come assess the situation and determine the next best course of action. These services have effective treatments for bed bugs that assess multiple hiding spots in your home and prevent new groups from reentering your home.

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