HOW TO CHECK A ROOM FOR BED BUGS
Do you have a suspicion that bed bugs are sneaking around your bedroom? Perhaps you’re waking up to find itchy red welts on your skin and you’re concerned about what might be causing them.
Whatever the reason you suspect bed bugs, you’ll first need to check the room for bed bugs and confirm an infestation before starting treatment.
Early detection is key in effective treatment – the sooner you hit an infestation, the sooner you can cut off their food supply and their ability to reproduce.
You’ll also be dealing with a smaller population than if you wait until weeks or months later to start treating. With that in mind, let’s jump right into how to inspect a room for bed bugs:
WHAT SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
While bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, it’s not likely that you’ll find any running around in the open. If you do, that’s a bad sign – it suggests that you have a high active population nearby.
In most cases, you’re more likely to find inanimate signs of bed bugs than you are to find the bugs themselves. Here are some examples:
They’re dark, they’re red, they’re round. This is arguably the most common sign of a recent bed bug feeding. However, they’re not the most convincing indicator of bed bug activity, since there are other bloodsuckers that could leave these spots behind.
These thin, dark streaks are left behind as bed bugs digest their latest blood meal. These droppings are made by heavily digested blood; they’ll smear red if you dab them with a wet cloth. Bed bug feces are usually smeared in thin streaks since they poop while walking. Gross.
Bed bugs need to shed their exoskeletons as they grow. When one shell gets too cramped, they shed it and grow a new, roomier shell in its place. Since bed bugs need a blood meal to grow to their next stage, finding these skins means that bed bugs have been feeding on somebody nearby.
Bed bugs are mostly round with a pointed posterior. Their shell is a dark reddish-brown, and they’ll grow up to be about the size of an apple seed. They have six legs, short antennae, and no visible (or functional) wings. Make sure the bug you find matches this description before jumping to conclusions. If you do find a live bug, pay close attention to its shape, size, and color.
INSPECTING THE BED FOR BED BUGS
Since bed bugs feed on you while you sleep, the bed is naturally the primary “hot spot” for bed bug activity. You can start to inspect a room for bed bugs by inspecting the sheets, pillows, mattress, box spring, headboard, footboard, and frame.
Make sure to perform your search slowly and thoroughly so you don’t miss anything.
There are a couple of handy tools to have with you during your search: at the very least, you’ll want a flashlight and a stiff card like a bank card to help scrape stuff out of tight spaces. A magnifying glass also helps, as most signs of bed bugs are very small and hard to see clearly.
If you need help moving your mattress or other furniture, have a friend or neighbor on hand.
Start by inspecting your sheets on all sides of the mattress, both the surface and the underside. Check the seams of the mattress and lift the seams to look under where they tend to fold over. Lift the mattress off of the box spring and check underneath, then check the seams and underside of the box spring.
Remove both the mattress and box spring from your bed frame so you can inspect the joints and edges of the frame. If you have a headboard or footboard, check both sides of them and pay close attention to any wooden seams where pieces connect.
Once you’re sure you’ve checked everything, you can put the bed back together.
CHECKING THE REST OF THE ROOM
While their names may imply that bed bugs can only be found on your bed, that simply isn’t the case. You can find bed bugs anywhere in the room where their host sleeps. They like to tuck away in places out of sight and out of reach, such as between baseboards, floorboards, and the edge of the carpet.
It’s also common to find bed bugs tucked away in nearby furniture like nightstands and dressers.
If you found any convincing signs of bed bug activity, the time to act is now! You’ll want to start treatment ASAP so that you hit the bed bugs in the room before they’ve had time to feed and reproduce even more than they have already.
You can start by treating and isolating the bed, then move on to nearby furniture and other cracks and crevices in the room.
2 thoughts on “How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs?”
Ahhh – I’ve just moved to Thailand, and I am so fearful that there are bedbugs in my new apartment. 🙁 I’ve only slept here a few nights. I’ve checked the bed, and I can’t seem to find anything … but I have these giant red bites all along my leg. It’s strange – they are all in a perfect row. And just last night, I had a few more lined up bites on my ankle. Do you think this could be bed bugs? I haven’t had any doors open, so I doubt that it would be mosquitoes. What do you think?
Hi Mei Scarlet
I sorry to hear about your problem. Moving to a new country and a new apartment should be a great experience and you don’t need to add bed bugs to the mix. First, let me tell you that it is difficult to determine weather you have bed bug bites or flea bites because, they are similar. The bites at the ankles sound like fleas but the only sure way of knowing is to catch one of the bugs in action. I had fleas at my house one time and they would always bite around the ankles but, I have had customers that would get bites in different parts of their bodies. The articles you read on my site (Do I Have Bed Bugs) will explain how to check your home for bed bugs. This is the process that we use to determine weather there are bed bugs or not at a customers home. Using these techniques should help you determine if you have bed bugs. One thing that I have used to find out if it is fleas is by filling a bowl with water and dish soap about half way. Put the bowl close to your bed but, you need to have a light over the bowl. Fleas are attracted to light and they will jump towards the light and land in the bowl with soap and drown. A night light will work just fine, if you catch anything then you can determine if it is fleas you have. Hope this helps and thanks again for your comment and question