Sometimes people see a strange insect in their home and wonder what it is. Or they wake up with itchy bite marks or a strange rash and assume they have bed bugs. The first thing they often do is log on to the internet to do a little detective work.
There are several signs of bed bugs that can help make it clear that you do or do not have a true bed bug infestation on your hands. Any single sign may not be conclusive. But the more signs you see, the more likely you have a problem you need to address.
Here are 5 signs you may have a bed bug infestation in your home.
1. Red stains on bedding or mattress.
It’s possible to kill bed bugs while they are feeding or just after when you move around or roll over in bed. The red stains are left on your bedding or mattress when bed bugs are crushed. This is easy to see if you have light colored bedding but is still possible to see even on darker bedding.
2. Bed bug feces on bedding or mattress.
Bed bugs will leave a blackish looking trail of fecal specks on your mattress or bedding. Bed bug feces is pretty much just dried blood. In fact, if you wet it very carefully with a small amount of water, it may turn red again and look like blood.
You’ll often find feces in mattress seams and other cracks and crevices. Bed bugs are small and flat and often remain hiding in such places. Also check seams in pillows, furniture cushions, floor moldings and baseboards for both bed bugs and bed bug feces.
3. Bed bug exoskeletons (or eggs) in bedding, on mattress or anywhere else.
Exoskeletons are the hard shell of a bed bug. This shell protects the bed bug and provides the structure for its muscles and organs. When the bed bug grows, it does so through a process called molting.
During the process of molting, the outer layer of the bed bug’s exoskeleton (called the cuticle) cracks and is sloughed off. This allows the bed bug to expand. A new shell will harden and the bed bug will be at a new size. They leave the exoskeletons behind. When you see them, it is an indication that bed bugs are there.
Check in the same places you would for bed bug feces: seams of pillows and cushions, folds in bedding, baseboards, etc.
4. An unusual, sweet aroma.
It is said that when you crush bed bugs or have a heavy bed bug infestation, you can smell a sickly sweet aroma. Different people have described the smell as:
- rotting rasperries
- ripe rasperries
- moldy shoes
- an old granola bar
Take all of it with a grain of salt. If you don’t have much of an infestation, chances are you might not smell anything. But if you are in your home and notice a new smell that seems out of place, it might be something to keep in mind.
5. Suspicious bite marks on body.
Bed bugs tend to leave bite marks in a straight line or trail. Often appear in a series of 3 or 4 bites. Bed bug bites often resemble mosquito and flea bites.
The body’s reaction to a bed bug bite will vary from person to person. For most people, the reaction is limited to localized itching and swelling at the site of the bite. If the itching sensation is intense and you scratch the bites, there is a chance you could open the skin which exposes you to risk of infection. Some people however have an allergic reaction and require medical treatment.
If the onset of bed bug bite symptoms is not immediate, you may have a hard time drawing a connection between the bite marks and sleeping.
Knowing for sure
Like I wrote in the beginning, none of these signs of bed bugs is conclusive on its own. However, put a couple of them together and they point to a high possibility of a bed bug infestation. The best way to prove a bed bug infestation is to catch and trap a bed bug. But sometimes even this can be difficult. If you think you have bed bugs but are having a hard time finding evidence, consider hiring a professional bed bugs exterminator. They could save you a lot of time and money.
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