Let’s face it, there’s not a lot to like about bed bugs. These resilient, relentless pests – which feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, including humans – have made something of a comeback in recent years.
Finding bed bugs is no easy task. For one, they’re nocturnal and shun daylight. Getting rid of them is no walk in the park, either. Bed bugs can live for months without eating and it generally takes a pest control professional to get rid of them.
But the first step in the process is checking for, and identifying, these less-than-desirable pests.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny wingless insects which, as mentioned, feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They are often referred to as nest parasites, i.e., they inhabit the nests of birds and bats. Evolution has seen them learn to adapt to the human environment and find homes in our own nests – our beds.
How Do I Know I Have Them?
Bed bugs are often confused with fleas, but here are some signs that you may have an infestation:
- Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and have reddish-brown colored bodies that are flat.
- Bed bugs shed their skin as they grow, leaving behind a light-brown exoskeleton.
- Bed bugs will leave behind blood spots and fecal stains after feeding.
- Unlike fleas, bed bugs do not fly or jump.
- Bed bug bites can leave a raised, flat welt and often appear in a straight line of three or four bites. They can take a few days – or more – to show up on your skin.
- While fleas will feed numerous times a day and for hours on end, bed bugs come out for a meal every seven to 10 days while you sleep.
How Can I Check For Them?
Being thorough is your best strategy in checking for bed bugs. While they get their name from inhabiting the beds of human, these pests can be found in a multitude of other places around the house. It’s also important to take some precaution. Wear medical gloves during your search because bed bugs take in the blood of other humans and potentially carry the diseases which come with it. And you’ll be searching some potentially grungy places.
A flashlight and credit card are tools you can use for your search. The flashlight will shed needed light on the process, while the credit card can be used to check between seams of mattresses and other furniture.
- Begin by removing all of the bed linen down to the bottom sheet. Use your flashlight to search for excrement or bloodstains. Next, remove the bottom sheet and inspect the mattress.
- Use the credit card to check the seams along the mattress. Hold open the seam with your card and then check with your flashlight. Also use the credit card to examine mattress straps and tags.
- If you’re able, flip the mattress and check the underside. You may see fleeing bugs when you do so.
- Move the bed from the wall and and shine the flashlight on the wall and floor behind it. Look for fleeing bugs and/or bloodstains and excrement.
- Check the underside of the bed frame. Bed bugs may be hiding in seams between pieces of wood, or even in screw holes.
- Bed bugs can inhabit any piece of upholstered furniture. Check other furniture as you did for the bed by using a flashlight, credit card while examining all seams carefully. The seams of decorative pillows should also be searched.
- Take your clothes out of dresser drawers and shake them out over a clean white sheet to look for bugs and excrement. Check the seams of heavy clothing, such as winter coats, and also look under collars. Also, check the drawers themselves for any signs of bugs, skins and excrement.
- If you have loose wallpaper, be sure to check behind it. Also, use your flashlight to check behind picture frames and mirrors.
- While you’re more apt to find bed bugs lower to the ground, check the folds of curtains and behind them.
- Check any those hard-to-see ‘underneath’ places, such as under refrigerators and other appliances. Sweep under them first, then check under with a flashlight.
In summary, being thorough is your best defense in checking for bed bugs. While you’ll naturally want to check your entire bed carefully, don’t forget to check other furniture, clothes, and even appliances.