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How To Spot Bed Bugs In Your Home

August 02, 2022

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

If the thought of bed bugs gives you an involuntary shiver, you’re not alone. The presence of these tiny pests in your cozy bedding, biting you while you sleep, has become much more common outside of just hotels, where they’re typically thought to occur. In some cases, bed bug reports have increased by as much as 30 percent

While these unwelcome bed mates are known for making homes among our linens, that’s not the only place that they can be found. Learn some more common places that bed bugs can live, how to know if you have a bed bug problem, and what to do about it once you’ve discovered the issue.

How To Find Bed Bugs During the Day

Bed bugs are generally nocturnal so they aren’t easy to find during the day when there is enough light to see them. Instead, it’s easier to look for signs of a bed bug infestation instead of the actual bug itself. 

Molted skin or small dark stains on your bedding or upholstery are clear indicators of bed bugs. The molted skin of a bed bug looks quite similar to a popcorn kernel, although it is lighter in color. The dark stains that they leave behind are droppings that contain human blood. 

Most species of bed bugs prefer human blood, although some can also feed on other mammals. If you do find the speckled dark spots, wet a cloth or paper towel and dab it over the stain. If there is a color transfer that is a rusty brown or red onto the paper towel, it’s a good sign that this stain was caused by a bed bug.

Are Bed Bugs Dangerous?

According to the CDC, bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous. The troubles bed bugs cause are more of an annoyance rather than a health risk. Swelling and itchy bites are likely the worst symptoms that you’ll experience; however, some people do have the potential for an allergic reaction that may need medical attention. Allergic reactions to bed bug bites are likely to be mild to moderate and are not known to cause serious health risks. 

What Does a Bed Bug Bite Look Like?

It can be tough to tell the difference between a bed bug bite and a mosquito or flea bite. Any of these bugs may give you an itchy, red, swollen bump with their bites. Bed bug bites tend to be clustered in groups, unlike some other bug bites; however, this isn’t necessarily a distinguishing characteristic of bed bugs.

The best way to determine whether you have bed bugs and where your bites are coming from is to look for evidence of a bed bug infestation in your home or areas that you spend time in.

Who Can Get Bed Bugs?

While it’s true that encountering bed bugs is almost 3 times more common in urban areas than in rural areas, that’s not to say that bed bugs are a solely urban phenomenon. In fact, bed bugs can be found in all 50 states in the U.S. Because of the higher population density in urban areas, it’s easier for bed bugs to transfer and move around, thus the higher number of bed bug infestations in cities.

What To Do if You Have Bed Bugs

If you’re extremely certain that your bed bug issue is localized to a small object, you can seal it in a plastic bag and remove it from your home. If you don’t want to get rid of the item, you can put it in the freezer for a few days at a temperature below 0°F. If a larger item of furniture, like a couch or a mattress, is the source of a bed bug infestation, you may need to get rid of that item altogether to be safe. Or you can always contact a professional pest control company to handle this type of infestation.

Exterminators are trained to look for bed bugs in small, hidden spaces and have several means at their disposal to address a bed bug infestation. 

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