Sings and Evidence of Bed Bugs

Adult bed bugs are only about ¼” long, with brownish flat bodies. But in addition to searching for actual bed bugs, look for signs of their presence, such as:

  • Black and foul-smelling gland secretions: Although this may not be something you could, as a human, detect, you could enlist the service of a bed bug dog as these specialized sniffers can identify the critters with a very high percentage rate. In fact, their rate of bed bug detection is the highest among all bed bug confirmation methods.
  • Bed bug feces (smaller than mouse feces) and bed bug skins that have been shed: While they may not be that easy to see, bed bug detection can start with what the insects leave behind – their waste. This includes droppings in the form of dark spots on bedding, mattresses, and upholstered furniture. These dark spots can be solid feces or blood stains. There may also be rice-size debris that could be their eggs or shard skins. If you see quite a few waste spots, it likely means you already have bed bugs.

    bed bug shells and eggs

    Bed Bug Shells and Eggs. This is a big evidence of a bed bug infestation

  • Their eggs, which will be small as dust and attached to surfaces by a sticky substance.
  • Blood spots on your sheets
  • You see them: While it is very rare to actually spot a bed bug, it is possible – especially if you look at night with a flashlight and magnifying glass. Focus on common hiding places listed on this article. You can leave out tape with the sticky side up as well in their potential pathway around a bed as they will get stuck.  If you find one, you can bet your bottom dollar he or she has plenty of friends that have also taken up residence with you.

Before anyone can learn how to detect bed bugs, they must first be familiar with the various stages of a bed bug’s life.

The Bed Bug Life Cycle

Eliminating all the adult bed bugs in a residence isn’t enough—you also have to get the eggs and the immature bed bugs, which are even more difficult to detect than the adults.

life cycle graphic of bed bugs

  • Eggs:  Female bed bugs lay up to 12 eggs a day, and they may lay hundreds in their lifetime. The eggs are milky white and look like grains of salt, approximately one millimeter in length. Females lay the eggs singly or in clusters in small cracks or crevices. Needless to say, the eggs are extremely difficult to spot, even for a trained eye.
  • Nymphs: Within two weeks, the eggs hatch, and the nymphs begin to feed. Nymphs will molt five times before becoming sexually mature—a process that usually takes about five weeks—and to complete each molting state, a nymph needs a blood meal. Nymphs are yellow-white and slightly smaller than adults. Their discarded skins are clear and remain in the shape of the bed bug.
  • Adults: Once they mature, bed bugs turn reddish-brown. They are flat and oval-shaped and grow to 4 to 5 millimeters long and 1.5-3 millimeters wide.

Once you have identified that there is evidence of bed bugs, which can include actual bed bug sightings, stains, or eggs then it is time to spring into action to stem the infestation before it spreads. When there is evidence of bed bugs, it’s imperative to enlist tactics to not only deal with the current problem but also prevent future outbreaks.

Tactical Plan for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

Once you are sure you have found evidence of bed bugs, here are some steps you should take without delay:

  • Confirm evidence of bed bugs: Consider hiring a bed bug dog inspection company that can pinpoint specific locations where bed bugs might be hiding. This will help you with your other steps, ensuring you treat all areas in need rather than just those where evidence was apparent. If you don’t treat all infested areas, the bed bugs may quickly return.
  • Be methodical: When possible, use a treatment specific to each area where bed bugs are found. For example, start with purchasing a mattress liner for all beds in the home, and spraying carpets, pillows and other soft-side décor with a bed bug-specific treatment spray.  Then address other areas like cracks in the baseboards or furniture.
  • Be persistent and patient: Don’t get frustrated by the prospect of tackling bed bugs given the many places they can be hiding, but be persistent and proactive in addressing each area as well as in conducting regular future inspections to make sure they have not returned.
  • Use multiple methods to kill the bed bugs: In addition to the bedding protection, employ hot water for all bedding and washable items and steam to tackle other unreachable areas like cracks and crevices.
  • Choose a bed bug extermination company carefully: If you call in professional exterminators, make sure they specialize in bed bugs. Also ensure they have good references.
  • Avoid certain methods: Know that some potential treatments for bed bugs are to be avoided because they are not as effective and/or can create a harmful environment, especially where there are small children or pets involved. These include bug bombs and aerosol pesticides.

In reviewing the overall actions to take once find evidence of bed bugs, remember these main points:

  • Use a bed bug dog inspection company to identify all possible places where bed bugs are hiding prior to starting treatment.
  • Be methodical, persistent, and repetitive in treating bed bugs. Re-check and inspect often even after treatments have been completed.
  • Try application-specific treatment methods to address various areas.
  • Consider a bed bug extermination company when other interventions fail.
  • Avoid certain treatments that claim they kill bed bugs like bombs and aerosol pesticides.