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Notorious for their multiplying ability and staying power, bed bugs can be overwhelming for anyone who is dealing with an infestation. Learning more about bed bug behavior and biology can help you stop their spread at the first sign. 

Keep reading to learn more about what bed bugs look like, how to check for them, and how to address any infestation issues. Once you detect their presence, try natural pest control remedies or contact a professional pest service, like Hawx, for the best options to get your home back to normal as quickly as possible. 

close up of a bed bug

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What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects whose only source of nutrition is blood from warm-blooded mammals, including animals and people (their favorite hosts). They are primarily nocturnal, wingless, and swift crawlers, which allows them to scurry out of sight and makes them somewhat impossible to notice early on. 

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs are creamy white to brown or red with flat, oval-shaped, segmented bodies, two antennae, and six legs. Fully grown bed bugs are translucent and about the same size and shape as an apple seed (about 3/16 to ¼ of an inch).

After feeding, adult bed bugs’ bodies swell and turn a reddish-brown color. Nymphs have translucent bodies, which are hard to see when they haven’t eaten, but will look bright red after feeding. Bed bug eggs are tiny and also almost impossible to see. They are shorter than one millimeter in length, about the size of a pin-head or a fleck of salt, and often white in color.

How long do bed bugs live?

An adult bed bug has a lifespan that can range typically from two to four months; however, if unchecked and part of a very favorable environment, some bed bugs can live up to a year. 

The life cycle of a bedbug is broken down into seven stages. An adult female lays between one to five eggs a day. A single bedbug can lay 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs can hatch between 6 to 10 days. A newly-hatched nymph will then feed and shed its exoskeleton to grow to the next stage. Nymphs can take as little as five weeks or up to four to six months to grow into a full adult. 

As a general rule, bed bugs feed every 10 days. This process repeats until they reach adulthood. 

Where do bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and can sneak into your home if you bring in any item from an infested place. They can come into your home through your personal belongings, used furniture or electronics, clothes, or any other single item that was in a bed bug-infested room in a hotel, movie theater, clothing store, or second-hand shop. If you live in an apartment, bed bugs can spread within a building from the neighboring suite to your home.

How to check for bed bugs

Bed bugs tend to come out at night and prefer to stay hidden. If you do see one crawling over your bedding, carefully check their favorite hiding spots immediately (see list below), and call Hawx for professional pest control help.

You can also monitor your family, your pets, or yourself for bite marks. Bed bug bites look like small, red bumps that itch, and can show up in a row, unlike other insect bites that are more randomly spread. 

Where do bed bugs hide?

Bed bugs thrive in places where people rest long enough to allow the bugs to finish feeding undisturbed. Feeding times for bed bugs are between 3 to 10 minutes. 

After feeding, bed bugs tend to hide out of sight in nooks and crevices you may not expect. Knowing how bed bugs eat and survive will help you look at the common living areas below for any indicators of a bed bug infestation.


Your bed is most desirable to a bed bug looking to grow its brood, especially the box springs, platforms, and frames. These areas do not “move” a lot and are more favorable for bed bugs. Food sources are always close by and there are so many places to burrow until it’s time to feed again or lay eggs. 

bed bug infestation on a mattress

Check for unusual spots on the sheets, pillow, mattress pad, mattress, and every seam and crevice of your bed. This includes your headboard, bed frame, the floor, especially if you have an area rug or carpet, and other places around your bedroom like nightstands, dressers, closets, and hampers.


Your average favorite show on TV lasts about 25 minutes, which is plenty of time for bed bugs to feel sated until their next meal. Any upholstered piece of furniture where people hang around on a regular basis works well for bed bugs. This could be an armchair, ottoman, or even a wheelchair. Check every side of your seat and under the cushions for dark spots.

Baseboards and door hinges

So long as it is close to their blood supply, bed bugs will be there. That’s why baseboards, particularly in the bedroom and living areas where you frequently relax, are decent spots for bed bugs to live. They’re not only excellent and convenient hiding spots but also the fastest way to travel from one room to another. 

Bed bugs can choose any unusual spot that has crevices, including door hinges, so long as it is close enough to you, their food source. 

Electrical fixtures

A spreading bed bug infestation can travel through walls and floors into adjacent rooms. Another access point besides baseboards are light sockets, outlets, and switches. These little nooks are great places for the bugs to hide until they are ready to feed when you’re sitting next to the outlet by your desk, in your favorite chair, or fast asleep in bed.


Your laptop can easily house bed bugs in all of your keyboard crevices. Other places that have little electronic spaces for plugs (and bed bugs) are TVs, computer CPUs, and fans or air purifiers. If any of these electronics came from an infested area, bed bugs will be hiding in there.

Signs of a bed bug infestation in your home

Now that you know where to look, the next step is to know the markers of a bed bug infestation. Bites can be a sign you are housing these guests in your home, but a bite from a bed bug may look similar to a bite from mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, mites, or lice. 

Here are some other signs to watch out for so you can stop a bed bug infestation in its tracks.

Blood stains

When bed bugs finish feeding off of you, they might leave some undried blood on your skin, which may also transfer to your sheets. As you sleep, you can also crush a bed bug if you land on it, which can leave any undigested blood from their body as a smear on your sheets, pillow, or upholstered furniture.

Dark spots 

Inspect for black, brown, or dark red spots, which may look like a pen or marker ink on fabric and upholstery. You can also look for dry, beady spots on hard surfaces. 

These smear marks are bed bug excrement or bodies of crushed bed bugs. Spots clustered in one area are signs of an early infestation; however, they will spread out over time.

Musty smells 

Catching a whiff of that sweet, musty scent lingering in your room means you may have a colony of bed bugs living with you. This scent can also smell rusty due to the oxidized iron in your digested and discarded blood. 

Bed bugs also use these chemicals to communicate with each other. Therefore, this scent is more noticeable as the colony grows larger. 

Shells (cast skins) or casings 

Bed bugs have skeletons outside their bodies. They shed these shells or casings about five times as they molt during their growth phase into adulthood. These translucent exoskeletons can appear yellowish to light brown and can be found near their nesting area. Look for shell-like remains under your bed, in the bed frame, and under the couch cushions.

How to get rid of bed bugs in your home

Below are several tips to get rid of bed bugs once you’ve identified that they are in your home. If these tips don’t work, it may be best to call a professional pest control service as your next step.

Put infected clothes, blankets, or sheets in sealed containers

Start removing your sheets from the bed or blankets from your couch and seal them in a plastic bag or container. This prevents the bed bugs from spreading to other areas of your home while you inspect your mattress or furniture

Wash and Dry infected fabrics on high heat

Wash and dry your sheets or any fabric near the infested area, such as clothes, in the highest heat setting the fabric can withstand. An extreme heat of 113 degrees fahrenheit is enough to kill bed bugs with a 15-minute exposure. If you can get up 125 degrees, bed bugs will be killed within a 3-minute exposure. 

Vacuum and Vacuum again

Vacuum all upholstery, drapes, and carpeting, and dispose of the bag or empty the canister outside to avoid recontamination.

Declutter your home

Clean up any piles of belongings, dust and clean your electronics, and get rid of any other nooks and crevices that you can in which bed bugs could easily hide. If you have belongings near a detected infested area, inspect them for any of the signs mentioned above. 

Use a mattress protector

If the bed bugs in your home can only be found on your mattress, look for a mattress encasement labeled bed-bug proof. Wrap this encasement around the entirety of your mattress for at least six months or more to completely starve out the bed bugs. Bed bug-proof encasements for box springs are available for purchase as well.

bed bug crawling on a mattress

Install bed bug interceptors

Place the interceptor under the posts of the bed, under your couch, or around armchairs. These interceptor cups have an outer ring that looks like a moat, which is designed to trap bed bugs. 

Once the plastic walls trap the bugs, you can enhance its effectiveness with a light dusting of talc powder. Inspect its contents once a month by dumping them into a tall plastic tub or a clear plastic bag. Then, clean them and reuse them.

While they do not pose serious risks to your health and home, the psychological effects of a  bed bug infestation can be detrimental to your well-being. For your peace of mind and to make sure the infestation is under control, contact a professional pest service like Hawx Pest Control for a complete assessment of your home and foolproof treatment methods for bed bugs. Our industry-leading services use the latest techniques and best products to provide our customers with peace of mind and pest-free properties.

How to treat a bed bug bite

Bed bugs are a nuisance, but they are harmless on their own. They have not been shown to spread pathogens themselves, but their bites may become infected. Some people experience serious allergic reactions to their bites. Contact your doctor or dermatologist for treatments if you experience any skin infections, hives, or swelling in the affected areas of a bite. These symptoms may require prescription medications or antibiotics. Otherwise, most bites can be treated at home. If you have concerns about any skin issues or reactions, consult your physician.

bed bug bites on a person's leg

Read more about bed bugs

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To learn more about our home pest control or commercial pest control services, please reach out to Hawx Pest Control today!


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