Updated: May 18
Have you noticed red, itchy bumps on your skin in the morning? Perhaps you visited a friend recently or stayed at a hotel that you later found out to have bed bugs. Or maybe you just want to be proactive about keeping your dorm bed bug-free.
It never hurts to be careful when it comes to these deceptive, bloodsucking pests.
Catching invaders early makes exterminating them much easier, saving you time, money and stress. This is why it is a great idea to conduct an annual self-examination of your home or apartment for bed bugs.
Know the signs to look for
To make the search easier and more effective, first learn about these visible signs of bed bugs.
· Eggs: Bed bug eggs are oval in shape, pearly white, and about 1 millimeter long. They look like tiny grains of rice that are often found loosely stuck to surfaces where bed bugs hide.
· Scale covers: abandoned scales in the form of juvenile bed bugs. Shell shells are hollow, translucent, light brown in color and range in size from 1 mm to 6 mm.
· Stool marks: Bed bugs leave droppings in the form of small, dark brown or black dots that look like ink points from the tip of a pen or marker.
· Blood stains: Red or rust-colored spots on sheets, clothes, or pillows sometimes leave behind bed bugs after you've finished feeding them.
· Adult bed bugs: Look for small, reddish-brown insects with the flat, round bodies. They are about the size of a flaxseed, ranging in length from 4 mm to 7 mm. After feeding, they may appear darker in color with a swollen appearance (similar to a football).
· Bed bug nymphs: Small bed bug nymphs start at 1 mm long. They are partially translucent and whitish-yellow, and develop a reddish-brown spot on their backs as they grow.
How to check your home for bed bugs
Now that you know what signs to look for, the next step is to start the scan.
The tools you will need
Looking for a bed bug infestation usually requires more than just your eyes.
Here is a list of recommended tools that will make your search easier:
· Flashlight: Use this to illuminate hard-to-see places.
· Card (such as a playing card or credit card): Run it along the seams and crevices, using the thin, solid edge to scoop out any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside.
· Hair dryer: Using safe heat settings, direct hot air along the seams of your mattress to cause bed bugs to escape.
· Scan tape or camera: You can use these to take samples or photos to send to your exterminator for confirmation and treatment
· Vacuum cleaner: Have this handy in case you find any bed bugs you want to get rid of.
· Safety Gloves: For your safety, especially when moving the furniture.
Start with shared hiding places
Knowing where these pests are hiding will help narrow your search to more specific areas.
Bed bugs during the day tend to find dark places in fabric folds, crevices, and nooks. Since bed bugs have small, flat bodies, they can hide inside cracks as small as 2 mm wide.
· Step 1: Check pillows and bed linen for signs of bed bug feces and unexplained blood stains.
· Step 2: Remove the bed sheets and check the edges, seams, marks, and bottom of the mattress.
· Step 3: Remove the mattress and check for cracks or gaps in the bed frame and headboard.
· Step 4: Look for dressers and bedside tables, especially around corners and screw holes inside drawers.
· Step 5: Check the sofas and chairs by removing the cushion covers to check the inside and around the seams.
· Step 6: Remove the frames and stickers from the walls and check to see if they are visible.
· Step 7: Turn the rug over to check where it is and under it.
· Step 8: Pull the furniture away from the walls to check that the baseboards and panels are showing.
Residential Inspection Tips:
Use transparent tape to catch bugs or use the camera to take pictures for professional confirmation.
When using a hair dryer, direct hot air along the seams of the mattress and other narrow crevices. This will remove any bed bugs that are hiding.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a slit tool to suck up any bed bugs you find. Be sure to empty the vacuum cleaner afterwards into a closed trash bag.
When checking and organizing infested clothing and fabrics, place neat piles in airtight plastic bags to prevent bed bugs from spreading.
Wash fabrics using high heat (ideally 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) to kill bed bugs and eggs. If clothes that are infested in this way cannot be washed, put them in trash bags and move them inside the freezer for at least four days.
What to do if you still can't find the bed bugs
If you can't find any bed bugs while searching, but you still strongly suspect that they are hiding somewhere in your home, here are some other options:
Get any bites seen by a professional to see if there is another possible explanation other than bed bugs.
Bed bugs can sometimes enter from the neighboring apartment. Ask your super if anyone has reported the bed bugs in your building.
Place interceptors under the legs of your bed to trap any bed bugs trying to climb.
Call a pest control professional and schedule an appointment for a bed bug check.
Are You Ready To Take Your Pest Control License? https://youtu.be/xLFGXuxJvo0