Signs You Have Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are back! There was a time that bed bugs had become quite rare. But in recent years bed bugs have made an impressive comeback.

According to Wikipedia: “The U.S. National Pest Management Association reported a 71% increase in bed bug calls between 2000 and 2005. The number of reported incidents in New York City alone rose from 500 in 2004 to 10,000 in 2009.”

Bed bugs are real-life vampires who emerge at night to drink your blood, and their numbers are on the rise.

To make matters worse, once inside a home, they spread all too easily and are shockingly difficult to eradicate once they’ve infested the tranquility of your bedroom. (More on this last point in a minute.)

Given the all-too-real possibility that you could, at some point, experience trouble with these nasty pests, we recommend learning to recognize signs that you may have bed bugs.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #1: Red, Possibly Itchy Bites

Bed bug bites are one sign you have bed bugs in your home. The bites are red, itchy, and irritating. Sometimes, however, you can have bed bugs and not have any bites. Only about 30% of the world’s population tends to experience a noticeable reaction from bed bugs. The rest can be bitten and no bite would be visible.

Medical News Today reports that if someone does experience a reaction from bed bug bites, it will produce some degree of discomfort, itchiness, and inflammation. Other signs and symptoms of bed bug bites include:

  • a burning, painful sensation
  • raised, itchy bumps with a clear center
  • a red itchy bump with a dark center and lighter, swollen surrounding area
  • small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern, a wheel pattern, or a line (indicating that the bugs bite and feed as they move along skin, a common indicator for bed bugs but not all pests)
  • small red bumps surrounded by blisters or hives
  • papular eruptions or areas of skin with raised or flat patches that may be inflamed

Bites tend to appear on areas of the skin not covered by clothing, so vulnerable areas partially depend on what you wear to bed. For many people these vulnerable areas will include the face, neck, arms, hands, legs and feet, and possibly the waist, shoulders, and back, though less likely.

The National Pest Management Association produced a video for the public about possible signs, symptoms, warnings and treatments regarding bed bug bites. It’s only a few minutes and it might give you a good idea what to do and/or expect if you think you may have been bitten by a bed bug.

One other thing to be cautious of with bed bug bites is that in very rare cases they can produce much more severe reactions. Serious symptoms that require medical attention are similar to those of any allergic reaction:

  • difficulty breathing
  • blisters
  • fever
  • feeling nauseous or flu-like
  • swollen tongue
  • irregular heartbeat

If you experience any severe symptoms, quickly seek treatment from a qualified medical professional.

What if you don’t have a reaction to the bites? Then how can you tell if you have a bed bug problem? Without bites to tip you off, it might be days or even weeks before the problem becomes obvious. By that time, the little monsters will probably have laid eggs and could be even harder to eradicate.

This being the case, it’s very important to be vigilant for the various different signs that you might have bed bugs, continued below.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #2: Red/Brown Stains on Sheets and Bedding

As previously mentioned, bed bugs are coming to drink your blood. Guess what happens to these little monsters when they are biting / feeding and you suddenly roll over in your sleep? Yep, you guessed it. They get squished.

All the blood they just drank from you gets squeezed out onto your bedding. It’s not enough blood, however, to stain down to the mattress in most cases. You’ll more likely find it on your sheets, pillow cases, and possibly comforter or blankets. Obviously the lighter the sheets, the easier it is to find these stains.

If you find the stains while they are fresh, you’ll notice that they are red in color. If you find them later on after they’ve dried, they’ll tend to look brown, the same as any other kind of blood stain. Finding these stains is one of the signs you may have bed bugs.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #3: Black/Rust Colored Stains on Bedding and/or Mattress

Having your bed infested with pests who have come to eat you alive is unsettling enough, and what they leave behind after feeding is worse. Bed bug droppings consist of digested blood. So, you generally will not find anything solid. Instead, you’ll find even more stains, and in more places.

The stains will often appear close to bed bug hiding spots, which can range from your mattress to the folded portions of your bed sheets to cracks in the headboard or even behind electrical outlet plates, to name a few. These droppings are usually black or dark rust-colored.

Looking for bed bug droppings is one of the steps a professional exterminator will perform during their inspection. If you are worried about an infestation in your home, you should look too, as it’s one of the most common signs that you have bed bugs.

This is an especially important sign for those who don’t experience noticeable reactions to bed bug bites. Despite not having to deal with the itching or other unpleasant symptoms, people who don’t have a reaction to bites can be at a disadvantage in recognizing an infestation early. Droppings are the next most-noticeable of the bed bug signs.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #4: Smell 

A bed bug infestation tends to produce a certain aroma… and not a particularly pleasant one.

Have you ever experienced an odor when you let your laundry stay wet for too long and it starts to smell a little moldy or musty? The smell of a growing bed bug infestation is close to that.

People who have experienced infestations have also compared the musty smell to coriander, cilantro, almonds and/or spoiled raspberries.

If you find your bed or bedroom smelling a little bit like wet laundry, you might want to look for other signs of a bed bug infestation.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #5: Shedded Skins

Similarly to snakes, bed bugs shed their skin.

The skins that they leave behind look pretty similar to the bed bugs themselves, except that they appear to be hollow and translucent. Finding a significant amount of empty bed bug exoskeletons is often a sign of a much more serious infestation. It’s not as common of a sign in early stages.

This is because these skins are left behind by younger bugs, which often means babies have been made and eggs have been hatched, which is not a good thing; if you see this, call an exterminator immediately.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #6: Bugs Themselves

The most obvious sign of a bed bug infestation is, unsurprisingly, seeing bed bugs. Many people seem to believe that bed bugs are invisible to the naked eye. The truth is a little different. Although very small, they are not microscopic. They are visible and able to be seen.

Fully grown bed bugs are oval-shaped and about 1/4 inch long… about the size of a small apple seed. In fact, they are shaped somewhat like an apple seed. They usually look flat and brown. But that changes after feeding. If they’ve recently fed, they will likely look plump and red.

The nymphs (babies) have a similar shape as the adults. The difference is that they are obviously smaller and they are whitish in color, which makes them more difficult to see.

Sign You Have Bed Bugs #7: Eggs

Bed bugs have a lifespan of roughly 10 months. During those 10 months a female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs! (That’s a lot for any pest!)

The eggs are milky white and comparable in size to a couple of grains of salt. They may be laid individually or clustered together in groups. As with bed bug hiding places, eggs can often be found in small cracks and crevices. In our experience, it’s common to find them in the screw-holes of bedframes and headboards, and in the dark areas under / inside nightstands.

Unfortunately, if you are finding eggs, there is a greater chance that you have a serious bed bug problem that has been growing for some time. Eggs are usually one of the later signs of an active infestation.

Winning The War On Nasty Little Creatures Who Eat You While You Sleep

As previously mentioned, bed bugs and their eggs are surprisingly difficult to eradicate. Many of the “DIY bed bug treatments” out there work just fine at killing some of the bed bugs in your home.

Unfortunately, bed bugs are incredibly rugged survivalists. Your strange uncle who has been disaster prepping for 40 years has nothing on these irritating little bloodsuckers.

Even somewhat effective DIY solutions that may manage to kill a good amount of bed bugs have a tendency to put the remaining bed bugs on high alert, allowing them to escape and burrow deep into hard-to-reach hiding places. This makes solving the problem much more difficult.

To make matters even worse: When a substance is effective at killing the bugs, it doesn’t mean that it will effectively eradicate the eggs. Bed bug eggs are much harder to get rid of.

If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation, or even if you’re just noticing some of the signs and you think you might have a problem, please, immediately contact an exterminator.

Not all exterminators are willing or able to deal with bed bugs. (They are a huge liability – they really are that hard to get rid of!)

Fortunately, here at Presidio Pest Management, bed bug extermination is our specialty. And we’re proud that we’re able to do so without the use of toxic chemicals, and with an unheard-of 1-year bed bug free guarantee.

If you think you might have a bed bug infestation, please contact us as soon as possible. We look forward to helping you!

Phone number: (248) 457-5233