Signs of Bed Bugs

How To Tell If You Have Bedbugs

There are three key bed bug signs.  It is very important you are able to recognize signs of bed bugs.  Learn them and you are well on the road to prevent a bed bug infestation.

Female bed bugThe first key is a live bed bug; which should be positively identified by an an entomologist or pest control operator.  This is the one guaranteed sign of their presence.  If this is a new infestation, locating a live bed bug is a big challenge.  Bed bugs stay hidden most of the time, making it difficult to find them and confirm their presence.  They leave a largely secretive lifestyle, appearing only to feed for brief periods.  Fortunately, evidence of bed bugs, the signs of bed bugs left behind, is a little easier to discover and identify than finding a live bed bug.

Bed bug feces left on a wooden CD shelf; courtesy of Lou SorkinThe second key is fecal stains.  When bed bugs feed, they leave fecal traces behind.  A dark, blackish spot slightly raised up, with a somewhat coarse roughness.  The dark material is digested blood from recent feeding activity.  Imagine spots or short dashes made by a Sharpie marker; this could be signs of bedbugs on a mattress, bed frame, chair or even the back of a picture frame.  This bed bug 'poo' is not easily scratched off, although a damp cloth, wiped across the fecal stain will smear it.

Courtesy of Lou SorkinThe third key indicator of evidence of bed bugs is their cast skins.  As the bed bug matures, it sheds it's skin.  This is done between feedings, ranging from the first instar nymph through to the fifth, leading to the final stage, the adult bedbug.


What To Do

  • Set up an appointment for a bed bugs dog, such as Bed Bug Mutts, to inspect the premises.  A bed bug sniffer dog can set your mind at ease.
  • If you discover, what you suspect is a bed bug - do your best to capture it live and resist the urge to squish it.  A squished bug is very difficult to positively identify, even by a professional pest control officer or entomologist.  Any container with a tight fitting lid (jar, plastic margarine container, etc.) or even a zip-lock baggy (double-bag for added safety) will suffice until a positive identification can be made.  Next, call a professional pest management company.

What Not To Do

  • Do not confuse blood smears with bed bug fecal traces.  A blood smear is red, not blackish, and may be the result of innocent scratching while sleeping; not concrete evidence of bed bugs and not the basis for applying pesticicdes or discarding bedding, mattresses or furniture
  • Do not jump to the conclusion you have an infestation, based upon bites.  The allergic reaction to a bed bug bite differs from person to person with a wide variety of symptoms in between.  The bites may be the result of spiders, mosquitos or mites, or even an allergic reaction to detergent, soap, fabric,etc.  Read Bed Bug Bite Symptoms for more information.