Detecting a bed bug infestation early on will save you from uncomfortable bites and allow you to take control of the situation quickly. Fortunately, a minor infestation is far less costly and complicated to treat. Unfortunately, minor bed bug infestations are also far more difficult to detect.
Bed Bugs are Experts at Hiding
Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures making them particularly tricky to detect. Only on rare occasions, will they venture out into the light to feed. During the day they typically hide along baseboards, in box springs, behind pictures, within electrical outlets and numerous other hiding spots. Then, under the cover of darkness, the insects crawl onto the skin of the nearest human and pierce their skin using a needle-like proboscis, injecting a numbing agent that makes the bite painless, and suck the person’s blood. Once full, the bug scurries back to its shelter. Bed bugs can go prolonged periods without a meal, but in order to mate, they must feed at least once every 14 days.
Signs of Bed Bugs
Some people can just sense that something is amiss in their home, however, there are clear signs that your home could be infested with the pests:
- Fecal excrement: Red flecks on your pillowcases, bed sheets, bedclothes, baseboards, or walls that the insects leave behind after feeding
- Eggs or shells: Tiny insect eggs or shed exoskeleton shells along mattress crevices, baseboards, or wherever the insects hide during the day
- Blood Stains: Small blood stains on the bedding from the insects feeding
- Odor: Bed bugs excrete a musty odor from their scent glands which most people find noticeable and offensive
If you wake up to any of these signs or bite lesions, then it is time to check for a bed bug infestation. The insects can travel 5 to 20 feet from their daytime hiding site in order to feed.
Is There a Bed Bug Nest?
Bed bugs congregate in groups that are often referred to as their nests. Here are some good tactics for finding them:
- Remove all bedding and check the mattress, focusing along the seams and pipping
- Peel away the dust cover and inspect box springs including the seams and wood framing
- Check the entire room- along baseboards, behind pictures, inside books, where the carpet meets the floor, around and in electrical outlets, and electrical equipment such as phones, clocks, or radios
- Inspect upholstery, looking under cushions and beneath chairs.
- Look closely at any exposed screws- the tiny insects have been known to congregate in the head of screws
Cyclic Activity of Bed Bugs
All bed bugs are cyclic in nature. This means that their prevalence intensifies depending on the season. Typically, bed bugs are more active in the summer season with August and September being the peak and January and February the slowest time for infestations.
If you suspect you have bed bugs or successfully find a nest, it is time to look into treatment options. Bed bugs are survivors but identifying an infestation early makes treatment easier. Some bugs, such as the carpet beetle, bear a striking resemblance to the bed bug. Read our post on how to identify a bed bug or contact a pest control professional to determine if you have bed bugs. Remember, early identification and control is optimum.
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