Early Signs of Bed Bugs [How to Find Bed Bugs]

Someone has rightly said one bed bug is enough to make life miserable. Having bed bugs in bed is nothing short of any nightmare. If not detected early, these active bugs can spread all through your home in no time. So every vigilant homeowner or apartment renter should be careful before they spread out in their home.

The only surefire way to eliminate bed bugs is to observe the early signs of bed bugs and take the necessary initiative to bed bug prevention. Although the pest is hard to see with bare eyes but even harder to get rid of. In particular, if you live in a densely populated place. So you have to know bed bug symptoms accurately.

We will cover all the information needed to find bed bugs across the 10 initial symptoms. Knowing the early signs is the first step to permanently eliminating bug infestation.

Let’s find all the necessary information on how to find bed bugs.

Let’s Start With Understanding Bed Bug Behavior

Early Signs of Bed Bugs
Early Signs of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are “nesting parasites” that have a mysterious lifestyle. They spend most of their time hiding near where people and animals rest and sleep. Bed bugs live on the blood of humans or animals.

They feed blood when a person or pet is sleeping or sitting still. After feeding, they hide in cracks and crevices of beds, bed frames, behind pictures, wallpaper, clocks, or under carpeting. They can survive long without food.

Though bed bugs cannot fly, they can move fast over floors, ceilings, and walls. They hide in tight and dark places. But mostly, they are found within 8 feet of a human’s resting place.

Bed bugs do not follow any particular schedule. Commonly, they feed at night, but they also feed during the daytime if they are hungry. After having the blood meal, their body swells and turn into a reddish color.

Bed Bug Lifecycle

Usually, bed bugs have five developmental life stages. The immature life stage is called nymphs. Each nymph must take a blood meal to develop into the next stage. They shed their skin five times like other pests to grow larger.

Under favorable situations, bed bugs can fully develop in less than a month. After shedding their skin five times, the nymphs become an adult. Adult bed bugs have the size of an apple seed.

The female bed bug can lay lots of eggs together, each about the size of dust. They can give birth to three or more generations each year. Bed bug infestation will spread further as the infection increases.

How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs In Your Home?

Bed bugs are hard to spot. They may not spread any diseases directly but can be highly irritating and traumatic to live with. Nonetheless, bed bugs can get into your home through luggage, used beds or couches, clothing, etc.

Their flattened body makes it easier to hide anywhere in tiny spaces. Then, it becomes tough to identify bed bugs if there are bed bugs in your home. Though bed bugs’ bites are painless, later, it causes itchiness and swellings.

There are a few basic signs which denote you have bed bugs, such as:

  • Itchy areas which weren’t present before
  • Bloodstains on the bedsheets
  • Bedbug egg shells, fecal spots, or shed skin where bedbugs hide
  • Rusty stains on sheets and mattresses or bedbug excrement on walls
  • Moldy odor coming from the bug’s scent glands

10 Early Signs That You Have Bed Bugs

Evidently, bed bugs don’t spread any diseases openly. That doesn’t mean they are not a threat to humans. These tiny creatures reproduce fast. Once they enter your home, eliminating it will be challenging.

Since bed bugs look like other pests, it becomes tough to differentiate them. So if you can identify them, you can control bed bug infestation from growing.

Have you already suspected that bed bugs have conquered your home? Then, you should spend your time understanding the symptoms of bed bugs and familiarize yourself.

1. Skin Irritation Due to Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs will leave the most noticeable imprint on your skin. Although this pest is very tiny and red to look at, it can be too itchy. Where the bedbugs bite, you’ll experience an itchy sensation. Bites can also cause inflammation.

Bed bugs bite in those skin areas which are more exposed while you sleep. They mainly bite in the upper body part. However, the skin irritation can cause mild itchiness to severe annoyance.

Sometimes, it can result in a burning sensation. The bed bugs bite generally causes red; itchy bumps appear in the small groups. They can also appear in a random pattern.

However, not everyone has red spots or itching after a bug bite. Some people don’t experience any physical reactions. So, they should check the other bed bug signs.

2. Disturbed Sleep

Obviously, with bed bug infestation in the bed, no one can better sleep. Whenever your house has this pest, you will wake up at midnight. If it happens multiple times, assume what happened.

You may also experience rapid itching/burning. All these could be a symptom of bed bugs. As we mentioned, these pests mainly feed at night. In the meantime, they could disturb your sleep. If this continues for a long time, you may experience psychological problems.

3. Adverse Skin Reaction

Usually, bed bugs bite leaves red spots on the skin. However, these bites respond differently to sensitive skin. You may have a very distinctive bite pattern on your skin. The NHS reported that bed bug bites could be visible in a zig-zag line.

If it occurs in a line, you could easily differentiate them from a mosquito bite. In exceptional cases, bed bugs can cause allergic reactions, itchy welts, and even blisters.

4. Shell Casings

Finding shell casing in bed is a reliable early sign of having bed bugs in the house. If you don’t know, shell casing is yellowish-brown, radiant exoskeletons of young bed bugs.

These come in a range of sizes during the molting cycle of bed bugs. Bed bugs shed their exoskeleton multiple times in their 5 lifecycle stages. Molting happens in each step of their lifecycle. Hence, this results in shell casing.

If the abandoned shell shells are spread all over the bed, your bed is infested with bed bugs. Bed bugs may not be visible to you all the time, but the shell casings will be.

5. Fecal Marks

Fecal marks are tiny, dark, or dark brown spots that look a lot like pen ink dots. These come from bed bug excreta which are actually digested human blood. Since human blood contains iron, it looks black or dark brown in color.

Also, it secretes a pale, rusty smell. This results in the overall nasty odor of bed bugs infestation. Fecal masks are usually found in the bedsheets or clothing and are mostly clustered around harborage areas. Fecal marks on fabric are hard to wash out.

6. Bloodstains on Sheets or Pillowcases

Bloodstains are red or rust-colored. It may appear as tiny spots or smears on bed sheets, pillows, or clothing. Even though you don’t see bed bugs feed, they cannot always escape unharmed.

After feeding, bed bugs turn into a tiny football engorged with blood. You may inadvertently crush them while moving your body suddenly in your sleep. When you destroy a swollen bed bug, the blood they eat can come out.

Although they don’t die in the meantime, they can create a noticeable red, rust-colored stain. Check your body for a cut or scab if you notice such a stain on your bedsheets. Bloodstains can also occur directly from bed bug bites sometimes.

If you notice such spots on your bedsheets, check if you have a cut or scab on your body. Bed bugs can sometimes cause blood stains directly from the bite.

7. Musty Odors

Sometimes, you can feel the presence of bed bugs from the unusual musty odors. Bed bugs release alarm pheromones which create a slight musty odor. The smell is somewhat similar to coriander, raspberries, almonds, or cilantro.

Generally, the smell of pheromones is very faded – virtually invisible to the human nose. Not everyone can sense it and identify it as a bed bugs smell. Unless you are experienced in detecting bed bugs, you could barely notice.

If the bed bugs infestation becomes excessive in your home, the smell gets mixed. It gives you a nasty, rusty, which worsens with severe infestation. This sign is less reliable than other symptoms.

8. Pet Behavior

The bed bug doesn’t just bite people; it also bites pets. In fact, it is even easier for them to bite your furry pet. When they attack your pet, your pet can experience severe irritation. If your pet is behaving abnormally, this can be caused by fleas and bedbug bites.

9. Bed Bug Eggs

Expecting female bed bugs to lay between 1-7 eggs per day? These usually hatch in the next 7 to 10 days. Bed bug eggs look pearly white in color and are about 1 millimeter long. They are ovular in shape.

More specifically, bed bugs’ eggs look like small grains of rice. You can see these in naked eyes but can be difficult to identify unless you search them. There is a hinged cap at the end of each bed bug egg.

The newly hatched bed bug emerges from this hinged cap. However, bug eggs that are more than 5 days old have a darkened eye spot. You can only see these with the microscope.

10. Live Bed Bugs

As you know, bed bugs are tiny, reddish-brown pests the size of flaxseeds. Usually, bed bugs tend to find a place to hide and stick to it. They don’t roam around unless they need to feed.

Hence, many people may not see bed bugs even after the infestation. If the bedbug infestation becomes severe or their hiding place is disturbed, bed bugs will be discovered. It appears when you are packing for a move most of the time.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like to Human Eye?

You would think that finding a live bed bug in your home would be a piece of cake. However, it’s not always that simple. Many people often get confused with bed bugs and other insects.

The most common insects people misinterpret as bed bugs are cockroach nymphs, spider beetles, carpet beetles, etc. Also, some people think of bed bugs as the same size as apple seeds. It’s not true.

Bed bugs are a bit smaller than apple seeds. These pests are usually 4-5 mm long, while an average apple seed is 8mm long. Moreover, bed bugs nymphs are even smaller than this.

Typically, an adult bed bugs will have;

  • 2 antennae
  • 6 legs
  • No wings
  • Flat and oval-shaped body
  • Brownish-red color
  • 5mm in length

On the other hand, nymphs are;

  • Smaller than the adult bed bugs are around 1mm in length
  • Whitish-yellow in color
  • Become darker when they progress through each molt
  • Difficult to see unless they had a blood meal recently

The Best Way to Make a Visual Inspection for Bed Bugs

Usually, the symptoms described above confirm potential bed bug infestations. If you are not sure yet, you can inspect visually. Use a thin card and a flashlight to do a visual inspection. Then follow these:

  • At first, check in the bed sheets and pillows for any bloodstains or fecal marks.
  • Remove all bedding and check the edges for eggs, shell casings, and bed bugs.
  • Remove the mattress to thoroughly check the crevices, nooks, and corners.
  • Slide the card to find any cracks that are not visible.
  • Repeat the same to inspect other nearby furniture, dressers, and nightstands.
  • Check the back and baseboards of the furniture.

FAQ

1. What are the Primary Signs of Bed Bugs?

All the early signs discussed above are primary signs that your house has bed bugs. However, the easiest ways to identify the presence of bed bugs are:

  • Bloodstains on the sheets or pillow
  • Red bumps on the skin
  • Fecal spots, shell casings, or eggs
  • Musty odor

2. Where Does The Bed Bug Hide?

Most commonly, bed bugs hide in harborage areas when not feeding. They also hide around the bed, near the nooks and crannies of the mattress.

3. How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs On Your Own?

To remove bed bugs from the bedding and clothes, wash these in hot water for 30minutes. Use a bed bug steamer to remove bed bugs from the couches, mattresses, and other places. It is effortless to use on your own. You can also vacuum a few times a week for more perfect results. Our last advice is to keep checking.

4. How Long Does It Take To Ensure Your House Has Bed Bugs?

Usually, nymphs reach adulthood in as minimum as 21 days under favorable conditions. More precisely, it takes around 5 weeks for larvae to reach maturity. That’s when you can realize about the infestation.

5. Is It Possible That We Can’t See The Bed Bugs?

Typically, young bed bugs are not visible to the naked eye unless they’ve fed recently. They are very tiny and whitish-yellow in color. But, adult bed bugs are easily visible to the human eye.

6. How to Inspect a Mattress for Bed Bugs?

Check if the mattress has rusty stains due to bed bugs being crushed. Also, check if any dark or dark-brown spots are actually bed bugs’ filth. Then you can also look for eggshells around the seams and tags of the mattress.

7. Can I Get Rid Of Bed Bugs On My Own?

Absolutely, you can. There is no need to take pest control service every time. Using a steam cleaner, you can do it yourself. Most importantly, you have to remain alert.

Conclusion

You already learned about the 10 basic signs of a bed bug. So you can identify if your house has bed bugs or not. Early detection is the first step in permanently eradicating this bug infestation.

Identifying the bed bugs infestation earlier will save you from a lot of trouble. Also, treating early-stage infections is much less expensive and easier.

If you are sure about the presence of bed bugs, you should treat them before they grow immensely. You should eliminate bed bugs as long as the situation remains favorable.

Don’t waste your night’s sleep anymore due to bed bugs.