Worried you have bed bugs but not quite sure? Don't worry our 5 signs you have bed bugs below will help you work it out!
1. Bites on your body
Bed bug bites come in all different shapes and sizes. Just because you have some bites it doesn’t necessarily mean you have bed bugs. That being said, there are only three little creatures in the UK that bite us (I’m not including spiders and gnats and other ones that aren’t too common). These are fleas, mosquitos (in summer) and bed bugs. Fleas will always have a host animal they come from, such as a cat or a dog, and in their absence that’s when they chow down on humans. If your bites are on your wrists and ankles, then think about fleas causing the bites and not bed bugs.
Whilst on the subject, mosquitoes in the UK hang around small water containers and pots in the garden as their eggs get eaten in larger ponds. If you have any of these near an open bedroom window, move the water away and see if the bites continue.
Ok, so let’s say the bites are unlikely to be from fleas or mosquitoes, that could well mean you have bed bugs. Some say bed bugs bite in a row of three. This can be true. The reason is bed bugs walk along the food source (yes that is you!) looking for blood. They stab you looking to suck your blood, but may not get any the first attempt if there isn’t a blood vessel, and so they move a little further forward and try again. This too may fail … and so the bed bug moves along your body until it sucks the blood. Not the nicest way to be anyone’s meal.
2. Spotting on the bed frame
For me this is the best and most concise way of detecting if you have bed bugs. Tiny black spots (about 1 millimetre in size) will start to appear in certain places. You will find these in such places like the headboard and in the slats on the physical bed. This is quite literally bed bug poo, which would be your dried blood. A pest controller trick is to dab you finger in some moisture and try to smudge the spots. If they smudge then they are blood spots and your chances increase that you have a bed bug infestation. But don’t call the bed bug exterminator just yet. Take a look at the video taken in Reading Berkshire where I show an example of a bed with spotting on it to give an example of what the spotting looks like and where to find it.
Bed bugs are like humans (apart from the feeding on human blood thing I hope!) in that they have an incomplete lifecycle. This means they are born from an egg and don’t pupate, unlike a butterfly which pupates from a caterpillar. Bug bugs grow in what are called instars, shedding their skin as they grow to the next size. They leave the exoskeletons behind giving a good clue that you have bed bugs. Here is a picture of some bed bug exoskeletons we found in Oxford, Oxfordshire.
4. Blood Spots on your bed sheets
This sign can be a red herring so be careful. Spotting on furniture is quite obvious as it will measure a millimetre AND smudge when wiped with a wet finger. Blood marks left by a bed bug can be confused with a slight cut causing similar marks on the sheets. The spots will have spread out as sheets are not think and can be as big as 4 millimetres in diameter. But do bear in mind it is easy to confuse them with a small cut or an area you have scratched in the night causing a slight bleed. You will get more substantial evidence from looking for spotting on the physical bed or exoskeletons left behind from these delightful creatures.
5. Finding actual Bed Bugs in your home: Where should you search?
This may seem obvious, however, a proper bed bug inspection should help to identify once and for all if you have the issue. Then you can sort out how to get rid of them. It is important to understand bed bugs do not like the light and hide in dark places. The first place to look is at your headboard, especially those that are material covered. Also check the connections of the head to the physical bed as they love to be around the fittings.
Next is the physical bedframe or a divan box style bed? A wooden slated framed bed should show evidence with the slats attached to the bed. There may be plastic clips for the attachment to the bed; this is a very common area.
If you have a divan bed, lift it and look around the wheels for evidence. If it has drawers, remove and check these as well as the frame. When checking for bed bugs start with the bed area then work your way out, looking at picture frames (taking off the wall) and bed side tables. Something should then become apparent. If you find the issue, our advice is to get a professional heat treatment carried out.
The reason we recommend heat treatments for bed bugs over chemical treatment is because it tackles the problem in one day penetrating the eggs as well as killing the bugs in all life stages, whereas a chemical treatment cannot pernitrate eggs and so further treatments will be required when they hatch. For more information about heat treatments for bed bugs Pure Pest solutions gives more information here. Heat treatments should also giving a six month warranty for the work.
If you are unsure if you have bed bugs after carrying out the steps in this blog, we recommend purchasing some bed bug interceptor traps that go on bed legs. These help identify if there are any in adjoining furniture as they should get trapped when traveling from the nest point onto the bed. The picture below shows these type of traps. They are also non-toxic! Please do get in touch wherever you are if you have any questions about bed bugs as we are sure to know the answer. Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs....
About the Author
Tom Frost is a Pest Specialist with 10 years’ experience dealing with bed bugs all over the country so has a real understanding of their behaviour and the harm they cause. He advocates heat treatments as the best way to deal with them as the issue can be resolved in just one day, and should have guaranteed results.