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

It has been said that even one bed bug can make life unbearable. Having bed bugs in your bed is nothing short of a nightmare, and if not detected early, these pesky bugs can quickly spread throughout your home. As a vigilant homeowner or apartment renter, it is essential to be careful to prevent them from spreading. Also checkout Best Cookware For Bug Out Bag.

The only guaranteed way to get rid of bed bugs is to spot the early signs and take the necessary steps for prevention. Although they can be difficult to see with the naked eye, bed bugs are even harder to get rid of, especially if you live in a densely populated area. Therefore, it is crucial to know the symptoms of bed bugs accurately.

In this article, we will cover all the information needed to identify bed bugs through the ten initial symptoms. Knowing the early signs is the first step to permanently eliminating a bed bug infestation.

Let us explore all the necessary information on how to find and identify 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.

Bed bugs feed on blood while a person or pet is sleeping or sitting still. Once they are done feeding, they hide in cracks and crevices in beds, bed frames, behind pictures, wallpaper, clocks, under carpeting, and other dark places. They can survive for long periods without food.

Although bed bugs cannot fly, they can move quickly across floors, ceilings, and walls. They tend to hide in tight, dark spaces, but they are most commonly found within eight feet of a person’s resting place.

Bed bugs do not follow a specific feeding schedule. Typically, they feed at night, but they will also feed during the daytime if they are hungry. After feeding on blood, their bodies swell and turn reddish in color.

Bed Bug Lifecycle

Bed bugs go through five developmental life stages, with the immature stage being called nymphs. To develop into the next stage, each nymph must consume a blood meal and shed its skin five times like other pests to grow larger.

Under favorable conditions, bed bugs can reach full maturity in less than a month. After shedding their skin five times, the nymphs become adult bed bugs, which have the size of an apple seed.

A female bed bug can lay a large number of eggs at once, each about the size of dust. They can give birth to three or more generations each year, leading to the spread of a bed bug infestation.

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

Bed bugs are challenging to detect, and they may not directly spread any diseases, but they can be highly irritating and traumatic to live with. Bed bugs can enter your home through luggage, used beds or couches, clothing, and other means.

Their flattened body makes it easy for them to hide in tiny spaces, making it difficult to identify bed bugs in your home. While their bites are initially painless, they can cause later itchiness and swelling.

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

Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, but they can still pose a threat to humans. These tiny creatures reproduce rapidly, making it challenging to eliminate them once they enter your home.

Since bed bugs resemble other pests, it can be difficult to differentiate them. However, if you can identify them, you can take the necessary steps to control the infestation from growing.

If you suspect that your home has been infested with bed bugs, it is essential to familiarize yourself with their symptoms and take appropriate action.

1. Skin Irritation Due to Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs will leave noticeable marks on your skin. Despite being tiny and red in appearance, their bites can be very itchy and cause inflammation. Bites usually occur in areas of the skin that are more exposed while you sleep, mainly in the upper body.

The level of skin irritation can vary from mild itchiness to severe annoyance and may even result in a burning sensation. Bed bug bites generally cause small groups of red, itchy bumps to appear in a random pattern on the skin.

However, not everyone will experience physical reactions to bed bug bites. Some people may not have any visible red spots or itching, and in such cases, it is essential to check for 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.

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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.


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.


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.