Bed Bug Signs and Symptoms: Here’s What to Watch Out For
Whether your house is in a rural community or a sprawling estate, bed bugs can find their way into it and start an infestation. Early detection of these nasty pests is key to preventing them from becoming uncontrollable to the point of requiring exhaustive extermination methods.
It can be difficult to detect these pests at first. To the untrained eye, signs and symptoms of bed bugs can be mistaken for those of other pests.
Our comprehensive guide will help you determine if these pests are indeed in your house. Read on to learn everything about bed bug symptoms.
Table of Contents
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like to the Human Eye?
Obviously, the most definitive evidence of bed bug presence is an actual sighting of the bugs. You could spot the insect crawling on your couch, floor, walls, bed, or other items.
You should be familiar with how bed bugs look like to avoid confusing them with other household pests.
Know your enemy
Here are common characteristics of the bed bug that distinguish it from other pests:
- Shape. Bed bugs are flat and oval-shaped. Females have a rounded abdomen whereas males have pointed abdomens.
- Size. The size of an adult bed bug is approximately equal to an apple seed. It reaches about 5-7 mm in length. After a blood meal, its size increases by a few millimeters. Nymphs are less than 5mm in length. They can be as tiny as 1.5mm.
- Color. The adult bed bug has a reddish-brown color. After feeding on blood, it appears more reddish. Nymphs are whitish-yellow or clear in color. After feeding, they look bright red.
- Smell. The scent of these little insect vampires is stale-sweet or musty. It’s released by the glands on their underbellies.
- Eggs. The eggs are usually laid in the same spot the female chooses to rest. They’re white in color and look like tiny rice grains. A conspicuous eye spot develops on them after a couple of days.
If I found one bed bug, can there be more?
If you just see one bug by itself, it’s possible that you brought home a lone insect unknowingly. If it’s a male, then you have nothing to worry about.
However, if the single bug is female, it may have laid eggs somewhere in your home. A female bug that’s fed recently can lay 5-20 eggs over 10 days. It can lay the eggs anywhere. Once the nymphs emerge, they’ll look for a blood meal.
Bed bugs can hide for a number of days without feeding. They also generally come out to feed on blood once a week. So by seeing one bed bug, there’s a high probability of more bugs hiding somewhere in your home.
These tiny, parasitic insects can hitch a ride from one place to another on your personal items. Once you introduce them to your home, they can spread quickly from one room to another. So do bed bugs go away? Find out in this article.
Do they come out in the daytime?
These bloodsucking insects rarely crawl about in the daytime. They usually remain in their hiding spots.
If you see one crawling during the day, it’s usually because it has been disturbed and dislodged from its hiding place.
How Can I Tell If I Have Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs have a secretive lifestyle that makes them easily go undetected. The fact that you haven’t seen any bugs doesn’t mean they’re not present.
An easy way to detect bed bugs is to watch out for the physical symptoms they inflict on your body while you’re asleep.
They tend to leave telltale bite marks on exposed areas of your skin, such as:
What do bites look like?
Bed bug bites are painless, so you may not be able to interrupt the insects while they’re feasting on your blood. They’re sensitive to the pushes in your blood vessels. They use their piercing mouthparts to penetrate into your capillaries.
If you’re sensitive to the bug bites, you may develop one or more of the following symptoms:
- itchy bumps on the skin with a red center;
- bites appear in a straight line or small groupings. They are unlike mosquito bites that are more sporadic and flea bites, which are very small and appear on ankles and legs;
- hives or blisters surrounding the bite site.
The redness, itchiness, and multiple marks are the distinct signs that differentiate bed bug bites from other insect bites.
Bed Bug Signs in Your Belongings
While bite marks are excellent clues to use when determining if bed bugs have invaded your home, they can take as long as 14 days to appear. What’s more, not all people react to the bites. So you should also look for other signs and symptoms.
Bed bugs can live anywhere inside your home. However, their favorite hiding spots are soft, cushiony items and warm dark places. They prefer wood to metal and plastic. They often hide in areas that are near where you sleep.
Let’s take a closer look at clues that may allude to the presence of bed bugs in your home.
Bed bugs are mostly found in the bed where you spend most of your nights. They aren’t the cleanest of insects, so they leave behind a visible trail. For that reason, you don’t have to see them to know that they’ve become trespassers in your bed.
Be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Uncomfortable Nights. Have you been tossing and turning a little too much at night? The bed bugs in your bed may be to blame. Although you may not completely wake up when the bugs are biting you, you may feel their bites, and toss and turn restlessly as a result. The itching that comes with the bites can also keep you awake.
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- New bite symptoms. Do you wake up with fresh bite marks on your exposed skin each morning? Chances are these parasites are in your bed.
- Discarded exoskeletons. Does your bed have oval brown exoskeletons that resemble empty shells or rust colored skin? This is the skin that the bugs have shed during molting.
- Blood stains. When feeding, bed bugs inject a special secretion that prevents your blood from clotting. Therefore, you can clearly see blood stains on your sheets, especially light-colored ones. They form when you squash blood-engorged bugs.
You may notice small black spots along the tufts and seams of your mattress. These are signs of an early bed bug infestation. These spots are bed bug droppings. They consist of partially digested blood. The blood that the bug ingests turns black while being digested.
This fecal matter doesn’t flake off when rubbed. It smears when wiped with a wet rag.
Many people usually rest and fall asleep on couches at night. Bed bugs will be all too ready to move from the bed to whatever place their food source is.
Look for black dots and yellow or reddish-brown shells in your couch seams. The dots are fecal matter of the bugs whereas the shells are the outer skin shed by the creepy crawlers as they mature. You could also see actual bugs on the couch seams and folds of cushions.
As bed bug populations multiply, symptoms become amplified and easier to identify. The pests leave their mark on many of your belongings.
Here are the signs of a severe infestation:
- White spots on furniture such as nightstands. These spots consist of urea that has been excreted by unfed insects.
- Light brown skins on walls, headboards, and sheets.
- Blood or fecal stains on bedding and furniture.
- Clusters of bed bugs on your mattress.
- Off-white eggs that look like small granules of rice in the joints and crevices of your furniture and mattress.
- Red itchy bite marks that cover your whole arm or leg.
- A sweet, musty odor that’s obnoxious. It’s brought about by the oily secretion that bed bugs emit. Most often, the smell is strongest underneath the mattress and headboard.
Bed bugs can completely overrun your home. You’ll need all the information you can get to deal with them. Go here to find out more about a bed bug infestation.
Ways to Detect
A sure sign that you have an infestation is actually finding these bloodthirsty bugs in your home. Because they typically hide during the day, it’s not easy to spot them.
Let’s find out some of the methods you can use to detect these insects.
Test for bed bugs
You can do a simple surface test using double-sided sticky tape.
Here are the steps you should follow:
- Wrap the tape close to the bottom of your bed’s legs.
- Place each leg in a strong glass jar.
- Wrap the tape around the jar’s base.
The bedbugs that will want to climb your bed to feed on you as well as those wanting to move from your bed to their exterior hiding spaces will be captured by the tape.
Bed bugs can gain entry to your bed through walls or bedding that’s touching the floor. For this surface test to be effective, make sure you move your bed at least 10 inches from the wall. Also, ensure bed sheets and covers aren’t touching the floor.
You can also detect bed bugs using store-bought insect interceptors. They are specially made for bed legs.
Let’s take a look at some of the available options:
- Climbup Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap
This pesticide-free interceptor traps live pests to help you with early detection. Its dual-well design helps you know the direction the pests are crawling.
Where to buy: available on Amazon
- Ultimate Bed Bug Traps & Interceptor Trays
This product has a deep pitfall design that prevents trapped bugs from escaping. It’s pesticide-free, child-safe, and eco-friendly.
Where to buy: available on Amazon
Home Depot detectors
Home Depot is one of the best stores to shop for pest extermination products. It offers a wide range of bed bug detectors.
Here are some that are worth considering:
- Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap
It lures, detects, and traps bugs quickly. It’s free of pesticides.
- BEAPCO Bed Bug Trap
With textured outside walls, bed bugs easily climb into this trap. It has a neutral color to blend with your home decor.
Without proper knowledge on signs and symptoms of bed bugs, you can waste your money on unnecessary treatments. Now that you know the correct signs, you can confidently inspect different areas of your home for these pesky bugs. In case you find the actual bugs or other telltale infestation signs, make sure you act fast to control the problem. By doing that, you’ll save both time and money.
You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.