Bed bugs are parasitic insects that live exclusively on the blood of humans and animals. While bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, they can be dangerous as their bites may, at times, lead to serious allergic reactions that require medical attention.
Until recently, bed bugs had been considered a problem for developing countries, however, now, these insects are spreading through the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. Interesting enough, the cleanliness of an environment does not dictate the presence or absence of bed bugs.
Signs of a Bed bug Infestation
Since bed bugs are nocturnal, or active at night, it is very difficult to spot live insects – unless you have a particularly bad infestation. Therefore, the best way to look for a bed bug infestation is to look for physical signs of their presence. Here are the signs you should look for while cleaning your home:
- Reddish or rusty looking stains on your bedsheets, mattress, clothes or even walls. These are stains that are left by bed bugs when they die or are crushed.
- Bed bug excrement. Some people think that since these parasites feed on blood, their excrement is also reddish in color, however, that is not the case. Bed bug excrement will be dark brown or even black and will resemble smears or stains like those caused by marker pens. The reason they are so dark is because the blood they ingested has already been digested. These stains will be the size of the head of a pin or smaller.
- More difficult to spot with the naked eye are eggs and egg shells since they are just about 1mm in size. However, females usually lay hundreds of eggs at a time, so you should be able to see them with a little bit of an effort.
- Also look out for exoskeletons. Young bed bugs grow with each blood meal and every time they do, they shed their skins or exoskeletons. Each bug will shed its skin at least five times before reaching maturity. So, look for skins – they look just like the bedbugs except that they are pale yellow and translucent.
- Blood stains on your beds, sheets and/or clothes.
- Another tell-tale sign of a bed bug infestation is a foul, musty smell in the room. This is the odor produced by bed bugs’ glands.
Where to Look for Bed bugs
Bed bugs are normally hard to find, firstly because they are so small and hide so well. Another problem is that bed bug bites look just like mosquito bites, which is why we don’t identify the problem till the infestation is rather bad. However, here are a few tips to help you identify and find bed bugs.
- What they look like
- They are small, oval and brownish in color. Adult bed bugs are the size of an apple seed and are flat, however, after feeding, they swell up and turn reddish in color.
The Environmental Protection Agency has pictures which show you all the stages of a bed bug’s life cycle so you will be able to identify them more easily.
- Where to look for them
Infestations of bed bugs occur around where people or animals sleep. During the day, they hide in dark places such as the seams of your mattress, bed frames, box springs, headboards, cracks and crevices, behind wallpaper or even in the clutter in your rooms. Usually, these parasites will live within 8 feet of where you sleep.
You can try to get rid of these parasites yourself, however, it is very difficult to do so. Therefore, if you do find signs of an infestation, it is best to call for professional pest control services immediately.