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How to Spot Bed Bugs: Knowing If You Have an Infestation

Bed bugs are small inconspicuous pests that feast on human blood. Once they’ve had their fill, they retreat back to their hiding places in mattress seams, adjacent furniture, or nearby cracks and crevices. It’s not always easy to spot bed bugs until a larger infestation has developed. Here is an informative look at bed bugs, what they look like, where they lurk, and how to easily spot them.

Identify Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed on humans and warm-blood animals. They have flat oval-shaped bodies and are generally brown in color. Directly after feeding, bed bugs may appear red. Adult bed bugs range in size from 4 to 5 mm on average, and can be difficult to see with the naked eye. Bed bugs move slowly, cannot fly, and are not equipped to jump long distances. To get around, these insects move from host to host or crawl along surfaces.

Understand Feeding Habits

Unlike many types of insects, bed bugs are generally only active at night. The tiny pests typically emerge from their hiding places to feed while their host is asleep. Bed bugs are attracted by the presence of carbon dioxide and the warmth of their living host. To feed, bed bugs pierce the skin with two hollow tubes. One tube is used to inject salvia which contains anesthetics and anticoagulants. The other tube is used to draw blood from the host. Bed bugs feed for about five minutes before returning to their hiding places.

Inspect Bites

Learning how to spot bed bugs begins with a thorough inspection of your skin. Bed bug bites are often the first sign that there may be an infestation. Generally, bed bug bites are mild and present with few to no symptoms. These bites can occur on any exposed area of body, including the face, neck, hands, arms, legs, and feet. Signs and symptoms can appear within minutes to days after the initial bite, and typically present with localized itching and flat or raised reddish-colored skin lesions.

Reveal Hiding Places

Knowing where bed bugs hide can help you find the possible infestation. Bed bugs typically hide near a food source, aka their warm-blooded host. The most common places to find bed bugs are in box springs, mattresses, furniture, bed frames, head boards, baseboards, and in walls and ceilings. Bed bugs can also be found lurking in various fabrics, including clothing, curtains, bedding, luggage, and under rugs. You may also find bed bugs crawling in and around clutter, especially if it’s on the floor.

Spot the Signs

Bed bugs often leave behind a trail of evidence. Spotting the various signs of bed bugs can help indicate a possible infestation. In the areas that bed bugs tend to hide, you may find shed bed bug skins, shells, or exoskeletons. Bed bugs typically shed their shell when they mature, leaving a clear exoskeleton behind. You may also notice tiny fecal stains on your box spring, mattress, or bedding. Blood stains may also appear on your sheets or pajamas.

Nearly anyone can have bed bugs. They are not a result of poor housekeeping or a cluttered space. Bed bugs can be brought into the home unknowingly in infested furniture, luggage, shoes, clothing, bedding, or backpacks. If you have bed bugs or an infestation in your home, it’s important to remedy the situation quickly before it escalates. Promptly contact a bed bug exterminator to treat your home and eliminate any infestations.

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