Bed bugs aren’t just uncomfortable; they’re downright nasty. Unfortunately, the untrained eye can confuse the bites of bed bugs with bites from other insects, especially mosquitoes. Early signs of bed bugs are present in many cases, though, if you know what you’re looking for.
One of the most prominent early signs of bed bugs is when you start noticing welts on yourself. These are typically flat and red, often in small clusters or zigzag lines. Bed bugs themselves do not spread diseases among humans, but their irritating bites can result in scratching that leads to bleeding and even infection.
Bed bugs like to feed on any exposed skin left open while you’re sleeping. They can go for your shoulders and arms, unlike chiggers and fleas that aim more for your ankles. There are, of course, repellents on the market, but it’s not always a good idea to apply them directly to your bedding.
Once bed bugs start feeding on humans, they tend to leave behind blood stains that look like tiny rust spots. You would typically notice these around the edges and corners of your bed. Bed bugs are also known to molt, or shed their skin, while they mature. Many bed bugs need to do this five times to finally exit their nymph stage and become adults, and they must feed to molt. Brown oval exoskeletons are often a telltale sign of bed bugs in the vicinity.
Sometimes, the only early warning sign of bed bugs you will get is physically seeing them. They’re often the size of an apple seed, so they are visible to the naked human eye. However, don’t breathe too easy if you only see one. That might be a trailer falling off a visitor, but it also might be the vanguard of a blossoming infestation. Use one of the many available foggers, just to be on the safe side.
Unfortunately, one of the most common early signs of bed bugs is their jet black feces. They leave this all over the place, and they leave quite a bit of it considering their miniature size. If they infest a particular piece of furniture, then you might find black residue in folds, creases, and stitching. The feces of bed bugs are quite sticky, so you’ll also possibly see them as tiny specks that stick to walls, carpeting, cloth, and wood. Bed bug bombs are effective in places they can squeeze into but you can’t easily reach. The rule of thumb is that if you can slip the edge of a debit or credit card into something, that’s enough space for bed bugs.
Something else to watch out for, and another good reason to keep some sprays handy, isn’t just feces, but bloodstains. This makes gruesome sense, given how they dine on the blood of warm-blooded animals, like humans. You may find them on pillowcases, sheets, and any infested area. Bloodstains on your bedding might even be from scratched bed bug bites. Look for red or dark brown discolorations.
Cuticles, casings, and exoskeletons are just some of the many words used to describe the molt they shed between their five stages of development before attaining adulthood. These won’t be huge, but you’ll find them littered in your bed or even all over the floor. In some cases, they’re also just stuck to bed bug feces.
Powders can sometimes be useful if you need to apply something to a broad area, because your nose might know bed bugs are present in a space, but your eyes can’t find or pinpoint the specific location. Bed bugs put out pheromones that are strong, musty, and not at all pleasant. Some describe it as being a dirty, wet towel. Others go so far as to say it’s like a locker room smell, and not a good one. When bed bugs infest, the smells get even stronger.
Keep in mind that your home isn’t the only place you might deal with bed bugs. While they can sometimes lay dormant without food for up to a year, they’re usually on the move. They get brought in by other people, and even pets. So, you might have to look out for them any place that you sleep, including hotel rooms.
Always pack a flashlight and magnifying glass for a room inspection, looking for the bloodstains, feces, and molts. Look all over the furniture, in it, around it, and behind it.
You also need to check your own clothing, and that of your kids, routinely, for these signs of bed bugs. When bed bugs are present in clothing, they’re bound to be on humans, too.
The Internet has many directions for glue boards and sticky traps you might use, but they’re not overly reliable. Retail bed bug detectors have a much higher hit rate, as they have chemical and/or carbon dioxide lures that emanate aspects of human physiology that bed bugs find attractive. Research indicates that these interceptors can be as much as 80 percent accurate and detect infestations even in the first week or two of a problem. Since many of them also work as traps, they are very effective in slowing down infestations or even drastically minimizing a potential issue or group of bed bugs in your home.
Knowing the early signs of bed bugs is crucial to knowing when they show up in your home. They are far more prevalent in the summer months, but they can strike at any time of year indoors. While they don’t communicate diseases to people, the scratching of their bites can still result in bleeding and infections, as well as sore spots that other pests might wind up taking advantage of.
Even if it’s not a matter of physical health, it’s still one of mental and emotional health. These are unwanted visitors in your home, so you need to know how to spot them. Now that you’ve read this, you know the biggest clues to watch out for. Enjoy the peace of mind that brings, as well as the power you have to deal with them when using the right products and supplies.