Bed bugs are annoying tiny reddish-brown parasites that feed on human blood, especially at night, and can make your nights a nightmare. No wonder the last thing you want in your home is a bed bug infestation. In this article, we highlight early signs of bedbugs, how to check for them, and how to get rid of them.
Common Signs of Bedbug Infestation
Bedbugs are sneaky and hard to find. They can hide in many places around your home, including bed frames, mattress seams, headboards, and cracks and crevices of walls, furniture, couches, and floors.
Their flat bodies (about the width of a credit card) make it easy for them to fit into tiny spaces that you’d normally overlook. Unlike insects like bees, ants, or spiders, bedbugs don’t build nests but tend to live in groups, hiding in the dark.
Over time, they spread through the bedroom and into adjacent rooms or apartments. The good news is that it’s not that difficult to tell if you have bedbugs in your home.
Here are some telltale signs of the presence of bedbugs in your home:
Red, Itchy Bites
The first common sign that you have bed bugs is the mark they leave after feasting on your blood throughout the night. If you see red, itchy bites on your skin, you may be infested.
These parasitic insects’ bites are quite irritating and may trigger scratching, which can lead to bleeding and infection. The marks could be anywhere from your thighs, arms, and even the neck.
Other insects like mosquitoes and fleas also leave marks when they bite. So, how can you tell that the bites are from bed bugs? Well, according to the NHS, bed bug bites usually occur in a line.
That is, they have a distinct formation on your skin that makes it easier to differentiate them from bites like fleas or mosquitoes.
Blood Stains on Your Beddings
Another distinct sign of bedbug infestation is the trail of bloodstains on your sheets. After they feed on human blood, they tend to leave behind blood stains that resemble small rust spots. The spots are often found near the corners and edges of the bed.
If you notice blood stains on your sheets, just know that you may have inadvertently crushed or squeezed a bedbug just after it finished feeding. Start by checking your body for bite marks or cuts. If you don’t have prior injuries to the skin, then there’s a possibility the bloodstain was left behind by a bed bug.
Bed bugs shed their skin or molt, several times as they mature. If during your inspections, you come across bed bug casings or husks, you could be dealing with a bedbug infestation.
The shed skins are translucent, hollow outlines of the bedbugs and can be found under the bed, on mattress seams, and along your headboard. You can also find them under your sofa cushions or furniture. Look out for oval brown exoskeletons during your search.
Does your room have a strong, unpleasant musty odor like that of a wet towel? That’s another common symptom of bedbugs. The parasites release pheromones, and when they are in large numbers, can result in a strong smell that is hard to miss.
Dark, Rusty Colored Spots on Your Mattress
Bed bugs leave fecal marks that are dark brown to black and about the size of a pen tip. The fecal spotting occurs near the harborage areas, but can also be found on clothing and sheets. These fecal marks are the results of bed bug droppings, which are made of digested blood.
Since the blood contains iron, it will give off a faint, rusty smell that contributes to the overall musty odor.
After mating, the female bed bugs lay tiny oval, white eggs. One female bed bug lays around 1-7 eggs per day, which hatch within 10 days. While not easy to recognize, taking a closer look may reveal that they are indeed bedbug eggs.
Live or Dead Bed Bugs
An obvious sign that bedbugs are residing in your home is seeing them, dead or alive. Bedbugs don’t wander around unless they need to feed, which they do at night. Plus, they tend to hide in dark places that you normally wouldn’t check.
However, sometimes you can stumble upon a bedbug, especially when their hiding places are disturbed, for example, when you move your furniture around.
Are Bed Bugs a Sign of Uncleanliness?
Bedbugs can reside anywhere, whether it’s dirty or clean. All they look for is a dark hiding place that’s close to a warm host (humans). That’s why regular cleaning and vacuuming is advisable as it can help you spot them earlier.
How Do Bedbugs Spread?
These pesky insects are more common in areas that experience high occupancy, such as:
- Public buses and trains
- Dorm rooms
- Cruise ships
- Refugee camps
- Homeless shelters
How to Get Rid of Bedbugs
As earlier mentioned, bed bugs like to hide in dark areas around the house. This makes them hard to detect and remove. The signs above should help you identify their presence. Once you do, the next step is their removal.
Here are some tips:
- Use hot water to wash affected bedding and clothing.
- Wrap affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for at least three days. But you don’t have to use a freezer. The bed bugs will die due to a lack of air if you properly seal the plastic bags.
- Regularly clean and vacuum furniture, the bed, and any other areas with crevices and cracks to spot any that might be hiding.
- Seek the services of pest control professionals who have all the necessary tools and pesticides to eliminate these pesky parasites.
Bedbugs are not easy to identify, and by the time you do, it could already be too late. By learning the early signs of a bedbug infestation, you’ll be able to detect them before they become a menace.