There are three main signs that suggest you have a bed bug infestation. Most adults are only the size of an apple seed, meaning these small pests can be very difficult to detect. In many areas, they have become a pronounced problem in recent years, but this also leads to many cases of paranoia where there is no issue. Don’t assume that any bite-like bump is a sign of bed bugs. If you suspect a problem in your home, stay calm and keep in mind that, while they are an awful nuisance, there has never been a report of the bites transmitting diseases or infections to humans, and the side effects of a bite are usually minimal to non-existent.
Usually the first indicator of an infestation is the appearance of one or more small red bumps on the skin. Bed bugs usually bite at night, sucking blood from exposed skin, especially the face, neck, arms and hands. The bite is usually not felt, only seen sometime afterwards. Bites are usually painless, small, flat, or slightly raised bumps on the skin. Redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur with the bump(s).
Another important point to keep in mind if you find a small bump on yourself or your children is that, at this time, no doctors or professionals have the ability to definitively say that the bump was caused by a bite. The only way to say with certainty that there is an infestation in your home is to find a sample of an actual bug, dead or alive, which can be examined by a pest management specialist.
There are some strong indicators of bed bugs that you should look for if you suspect an infestation. Since they are small and very difficult to find, the following represents a few more readily apparent signs. Keep in mind that the best inspection is one completed by a professional, so, if possible, contact a local pest management expert with experience in bed bug control.
1. Fecal Spotting
Removing all of the sheets and lifting up your mattress, look along the edges of your box spring and mattress piping for accumulations of feces. From a distance, you may be able to see a slight accumulation of dark specks that look like small pieces of black dirt on or inside the fabric. Fecal spottings may also be found on the wooden inside of a box spring, or on the head board, but these are harder to differentiate since they may appear to be part of the wood grain.
2. Shed Skin
Bed bugs also shed their skin, often in fairly large, intact, pieces. If areas of fecal spotting are identified, then look for shed skin in the same area. If you find any of these sheddings near fecal spottings, they are usually a translucent brown colour, you may be able to see under closer inspection that they look like the empty shell of a bug. If you look close enough around suspected fecal spotting, then full shed skin should be able to be found. If you find fecal spotting or shed skin, contact a pest control expert as soon as possible.
3. Recurring Bites
The first two cases represent reliable evidence that a pest control expert can work with to identify the problem conclusively, however, this is not always possible. Some bed bugs bite more than others, and some people are more sensitive to the bites, so recurring bites may be the best indication that you, as an untrained inspector, can find. If you find two or more times the appearance of a bite in the morning that was not there the prior evening, then this is very likely due to bed bugs. While this is by no means a definite sign, it is sufficient evidence to warrant calling an expert for a professional inspection.