If you’ve suddenly found yourself suffering from bed bug bites and looking for bed bugs in what you thought was a bug-free home or apartment, you’re not alone. The unfortunate reality is that finding bed bugs in your home is becoming increasingly common.
The increase of international and domestic travel, the increase of pesticide-resistant bugs, and a general misunderstanding and ignorance about how to fight bed bugs have all led to a resurgence of bed bug problems throughout the U.S.
If you think you have bed bugs but aren’t sure, it’s probably because you’ve never had to deal with these resilient blood-sucking parasites before, so basic things like how big bed bugs are and where they live are unknown to you.
Knowing answers to questions like these can involve a bit of research, but the sooner you detect a bed bug problem, the sooner you can start taking steps to resolve it.
Common Questions for Bed Bug Detection
Where should I look for bed bugs? Where do they hide?
Unfortunately, bed bugs can live and hide just about anywhere. Although they are most commonly found in mattresses and bedding, depending on the severity of the infestation you can find bed bugs living in other furniture (like mattresses and stuffed chairs), in walls, in electronics, in clothing, in footwear, and in closets. In fact, if you picked up bed bugs from a hotel, you may even find them in your luggage.
As mentioned, the most common place to find bed bugs hiding is in a mattress or box spring, however, bed bugs can and will travel up to a few feet to feed. Furniture adjacent to an infested bed, cracks in a wall, and other places that offer dark, secluded areas can all make good hiding spots for bed bugs.
How do bed bugs live?
Bed bugs typically feed at night, so they will hide during the day and then, when you are sleeping, they will emerge to feed. Adults typically feed every 3-4 days and it takes about 10-15 minutes for an adult bed bug to feed fully.
What do bed bug bites look like?
Due to the anesthetic and anticoagulant properties of bed bug bites, people rarely realize that they have been bitten immediately. Instead, sufferers typically do not realize that they have been bitten until a day or two later, when the bite marks start to appear. Bed bug bite marks can look similar to flea bites (slightly raised, swollen and red) or they may appear in clusters or lines (depending on the feeding pattern of bugs and the number of bugs feeding at a given time).
Some people have reported rather severe reactions to bites from bed bugs, including painfully swollen areas and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be quite severe, and it can include over a dozen life-threatening reactions, including wheezing, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, and more.
What color are bed bugs?
Bed bug color largely depends on whether the bug has eaten or not. Unfed adult bed bugs are a deep brown color (almost rusty), but once they have fed on blood, adults take on a red-brown color. Nymphs (which are baby bed bugs) are practically colorless until they eat (when they turn reddish) or mature (when they become brownish).
How big are bed bugs and what do they look like?
Depending on what stage in their life cycle a bed bug is in, it may be extremely tiny (first stage baby bed bugs are a mere 1.5 mm long) or relatively large (with adult bed bugs typically being about 5.5 mm long). So, their size and coloring changes with age. Regardless of where they are in their life cycle, however, all hatched bed bugs have flat, oval bodies, six legs, and a pair of antennae. Their overall shape and coloring is sometimes compared to an apple seed.
What are the signs of bed bugs?
The first signs of bed bug infestations that most people find are the bites. Bed bug bites are typically not dangerous (they don’t cause disease), but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating or annoying. Not only do they itch, they can cause loss of sleep, and there’s always the risk that excessive itching could lead to a secondary skin infection.
Other bed bug signs include dark-brown or black spots on bedding (which could be dried blood or bed bug feces), red spots on bedding (which could be fresh blood specks from feeding), empty exoskeletons, live bed bugs, and a sweet, musty odor in the area. Any of these signs could point to an infestation.
Should you call an exterminator?
Deciding whether you want the help of a pest professional is a personal choice. There are many ways to kill bed bugs that don’t require an exterminator, and there are many pest control methods available to people eager to get rid of bed bugs without pesticides. If, however, you find that the infestation is getting worse or you do not have time to thoroughly research the issue, you should seriously consider contacting a qualified pest professional for help.