Common Signs Of Bed Bugs & How To Check If You Have An Infestation

Bed Bugs (Cimex Lectularius) are unpleasant bloodsucking pests that can live undetected for many months in hard to spot sometimes hard to reach areas of your home or business. And according to Forbes August 2020 article ‘Bed Bugs on the rise despite Covid19 new study suggests’, they are on the rise in Europe.

In this article we look at how you can turn amateur detective when looking for bed bugs in your home or business; the common signs of bed bugs; the symptoms that strongly indicate you have been bitten, plus the best ways to treat an infestation.

Photo by British Pest Control Association.

Where bed bugs can usually be found

Bed bugs spend much of their time in dark, hidden locations like mattress seams, or cracks in a wall.

They can infest aircraft, ships, trains, buses, offices, homes, and leisure spaces. They are frequently found in dwellings with a high rate of occupant turnover, such as hotels, motels, hostels, dormitories, shelters, apartment complexes, tenements, and prisons. But increasingly bed bugs are making their way into homes – often brought to your home courtesy of your holiday luggage, office rucksack, even on your clothing as you return from a restaurant, the cinema, and your favourite gallery.

But where can they be found in your home or business? The unfortunate answer is that once you have a bed bug infestation, if left untreated, the bed bugs will spread to every room, and can do so very quickly.

We advise that you check all the following to determine the extent of the infestation.

  • Skirting boards – cracks between the boards and on the top and bottom.
  • Bed frames.
  • Electrical sockets.
  • Seams, folds, and zips in soft furnishings including cushions, curtains, chairs, and sofas.
  • Under loose wallpaper and in the seam where the wallpaper and ceiling meet.
  • In clothing especially jumpers, jackets, and hats.
  • Mattresses – any area of a mattress can harbour bedbugs from the seams to the indented buttons.
  • Underneath paintings and posters on the walls

Photo by louento.pix on Flickr

How to look for signs you have a bed bug infestation

When looking for a sign of bed bugs you should find at least one of the following:

  • Reddish- brown stains on your mattress, chairs or sofas from bugs that have been crushed. These clusters or dark faecal spots, which are usually about 1mm wide, look like an ink dot.
  • Small, pale yellow eggs, eggshells, and yellowish skins shed by young bed bugs.
  • Small blood smears on the bed linen or headboard.
  • Rusty coloured blood spots on sheets, pillowcases, upholstery such as fabric office chairs, sofas and armchairs, skirting boards, bed frames and upholstered chairs/seats.
  • Papery, partially shredded insect skins usually found on bed sheets, pillowcases, and soft furnishings.
  • A sickly-sweet odour likened to rotten raspberries.
  • And the most obvious but not always the first sign you find – seeing the small brown insects themselves, in and around your bed frame or sleeping area.

Photo by British Pest Control Association.

Bear in mind that because other types of insects can resemble bed bugs you should take a few photographs of the tell-tale signs and of the bugs themselves. Show these images to a professional before going any further.

What are the symptoms that indicate you have been bitten by a bed bug?

It’s no fun being bitten by a bedbug and whilst the bites are not known to be harmful, they are none the less unpleasant and cause itching. A severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis is also possible but rare.

Bed bugs can bite anywhere on the body where there’s skin.  Typically, the bites are found on the skin that is exposed as you sleep. For example:

  • Neck
  • Face
  • Shoulders
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Legs

Photo by louento.pix on Flickr

It’s quite usual not to feel the bite itself or have symptoms beyond the small dots where the bed bug bit. In most cases symptoms occur within minutes of the bite and with no further irritation they should clear up within a week. Keeping the affected area clean and by avoiding scratching the bite will speed up recovery

Best ways to treat an infestation of bed bugs

Be prepared for a long haul if you are treating an infestation of bed bugs in your home or business. Just when you think you have got the better of the bugs, they can return and often with a vengeance. It’s challenging to find all their hiding places although a very good torch and perseverance helps.

The below tips should help you prevent and limit the severity of an infestation;

  • Before you start treating your home with any approved over the counter bed bug treatments it pays to prepare thoroughly. So, ensure your linens, carpets, drapes, clothing, and other hiding places have been cleaned and anything not wanted is disposed of away from your home.
  • Eliminate bed bug hiding places. So, gather all the books, magazines, clothes, soft toys, slippers, and papers – basically everything lying on your floor and under your bed and in your wardrobe. Clean and store away from the infested area or recycle. If you move items from an infested room to a clean one you will spread the infestation to that room, so use good quality sealed bags for transportation.
  • Seal up the open areas such as your loose wallpaper.
  • Seal the cracks in the skirting boards, in furniture, around door frames etc.
  • Tape up electrical sockets.
  • Move your bed at least 15cm from the wall so bed bugs can’t climb on.

Helpful advice from NHS England Bed bugs – NHS (www.nhs.uk) states:

‘Contact your local council or pest control service -it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bed bugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides” and…

  • Wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes.
  • Put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing).
  • clean and vacuum regularly – bed bugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early.

Intensive cleaning of all known bed bug ‘haunts’ whilst not spreading the infestation from one room to another is crucial if you are to succeed. Another very effective treatment to rid your property of bed bugs is through heat treatment.

How Dyno-Pest can help

We know how distressing it can be to find an infestation in your home of any pest. So, if you find yourself at a loss as to what to do, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for advice and to arrange a survey.

As bed bug exterminators with over 25 years’ experience, bedbug infestations are all in a day’s work for us. So don’t hesitate to ask for advice if your bed bug problem is proving beyond control or you simply want confirmation that those pests you have spotted really are bed bugs.