Most summer bugs are a nuisance, but bed bugs are among the most persistent pests you could ever deal with. How to find bed bugs - A bed bug infestation can be hard to detect at the early stages, and they can hitchhike their way into your home from just about anywhere. If they get a foothold, they can spread throughout the house and even travel into neighboring homes!
Most homeowners want to know how to find bed bugs and kill before this happens, especially when they’re trying to sell a property. The first step is finding them. However, detecting the presence of bed bugs in your home is a little more challenging than you’d expect.
How to Find Bed Bugs
Finding Bed Bugs: Why Is It Difficult?
A visual inspection is rarely reliable, unless it’s performed by an expert. These insects may be mistaken for other summer bugs, such as carpet bugs, and may have spread throughout your property by the time they’re correctly identified. Nymphs are even more difficult to spot, since they are much smaller than full-grown bed bugs and lighter in color as well.
Bite-like marks are not always accurately diagnosed either, since they can look like rashes, hives and other skin problems, as well as bites from mosquitoes or other insects. In fact, some people display no reaction when they’re bitten by bed bugs, even if they have an infestation.
What Are Some Common Signs of Bed Bugs Moving In?
Rather than relying on insect bites that may or may not be from bed bugs at all, look for physical signs that may point to an infestation. Check for these while cleaning your room, replacing your bedding and washing your bedlinen. Also, make sure to inspect the bedding at hotels or other guest establishments when you’re staying anywhere other than home.
Here’s what you should look for:
- Clusters of small dark spots that smear when you wipe them with a wet rag, the way markers do. These are the fecal matter expelled by bed bugs, and will usually be dark brown or black instead of red, since they are basically digested blood.
- Stains that are reddish or rust-colored, like dried blood, on your bedsheets or mattresses. These may occur if you crush a bed bug in your sleep, especially if it was in the process of feeding or had recently fed.
- Tiny eggs or eggshells in your bedding, as well as skins that are shed by bed bug nymphs while they’re growing. Eggs tend to be around 1mm in size, and cast skins from nymphs are usually a pale yellow or tan color.
- Live bed bugs, which are wingless with flat, oval-shaped bodies. They are usually brown, but may seem reddish if they’ve fed recently. Adult bed bugs are 4-5mm in size by the time they’re fully grown, while nymphs are smaller and paler.
Where Would You Usually Find Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs tend to hide in well-protected areas of your home when they aren’t feeding, which is why low-level infestations often go unnoticed. These tiny insects can get into even the thinnest crack, since they are only about as wide as a credit card!
Look in these areas near your bed if you suspect a bed bug invasion:
- Cracks or joints on the headboard and bed frame
- Seams, piping or tags of box springs and mattresses
In case of a heavy infestation, you may also find them in these areas:
- Cracks or joints in drawers, cupboards and other furniture
- Between cushions, or in the seams of couches and chairs
- Inside electrical appliances and receptacles
- Between the folds of curtains or drapes
- Corners, edges or junctions of ceilings and walls
- Inside or under the heads of screws
- Under wall hangings or loose wallpaper
Feeding, Life Stages and Other Habits of Bed Bugs
If you want to know how to kill bed bugs or even find them, you have to understand their behavior and habits. Knowing their eating habits, preferred living conditions, reproductive cycles and other details can also help you monitor your home after bed bug treatment, and ensure that these pests haven’t returned.
Feeding and Excretion
Bed bugs usually come out to feed at night, but will also seek a meal in daylight if they’re hungry. Their meal of choice is generally human blood. However, they will also feed on dogs, cats and other mammals or even birds, travelling between 5 and 20 feet from their hiding spots to find a host.
It can anywhere from 3 to 12 minutes for them to feed, and large nymphs or adults will often drop feces from earlier blood meals while feeding. This is what leads to the telltale dark spots on bed sheets and mattresses.
Reproduction and Life Stages
Bed bugs have 6 life stages, and they need a minimum of one blood meal to move from one to the next. They also shed skin at each stage and may feed more than once between stages. Under the right conditions, the lifecycle from egg-to-egg takes around 4-5 weeks.
Female bed bugs can lay anywhere from 200 to 500 eggs during their lifetime, which is generally 6 months to a year or longer. They may lay 1-3 eggs every day, and both males and females need to feed at least once a fortnight to continue mating and producing eggs.
Preferred Habitat and Conditions
Common bed bugs can survive in most environments where their hosts can, thriving in temperatures as low as 46°F (7°C). However, if their body temperature goes over 113°F (45°C), they will die. Certain tropical and semi-tropical varieties of bed bugs need higher average temperatures.
Heat is often used as a form of bed bug treatment, but it only works if the room is heated beyond 113°F and the temperature is sustained long enough to reach into their hiding places.
So, How Can You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
In order to treat a bed bug infestation effectively, it’s important to catch it as early as possible. Follow these 4 steps if you think bed bugs may have invaded your home:
Conduct a Visual Inspection
Carefully and thoroughly inspect bedrooms and other areas where you rest or sleep for any signs of bed bugs. Pay particular attention to beds, mattresses and upholstered furniture in these areas.
Install interception devices or active monitors under or next to the legs of your bed, couch and other resting furniture. Leave them in place for 2-4 weeks, and check for bed bug activity every few days.
Install Mattress/Box Spring Encasements
These tools can help you detect the presence of bed bugs as well as protect your bed and mattress. Bugs are restricted to the outside of the encasement, making them easier to spot during inspections.
Get Professional Treatment
Minor infestations are fairly easy to treat if they’re caught in time, so call the experts at Take Care Termite to conduct a thorough inspection today.