According to a recent NPMA survey, 76% of pest control professionals rate bed bugs as the hardest bug to eradicate. That’s why detecting a bed bug infestation early, before it has a chance to become widespread, is so important to get rid of bed bugs.
Bed bugs are accomplished hitchhikers and will latch on to clothes, luggage, and even linens to move from place to place in search of a host. Because of this, they can spread quickly and often undetected. Careful inspection should always be done at 3 critical times to help with early bed bug identification: when cleaning your home, when changing bed linens, and when staying anywhere outside your home.
When inspecting for bed bugs there are 4 main signs to look for:
- Rust or reddish stains on the sheets or mattress
- Dark spots the size of a period (.) on fabric
- Tiny eggs (about 1 mm in size) or yellow skins that are shed by nymphs
- Live bed bugs
Here’s an example of a bed bug infestation – live bed bugs are found as well as dark spots on the bed frame, under the mattress, with shed skins.
When performing these inspections, it is important to check anywhere that bed bugs can hide. Bed bugs can be found anywhere humans congregate. Infestations have been reported in hotel rooms, offices, public transportation, libraries, offices, dorms, schools and daycares, hospitals, nursing homes, retail stores, and even movie theaters. Use a flashlight when checking for bed bugs to help give a closer inspection.
Bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card and can squeeze into very small spaces. Bed bugs can hide in:
- Seams of chairs and couches or between cushions
- Folds of curtains
- Drawer joints
- Electrical receptacles and light switches
- Under loose wallpaper or wall hangings
- Where walls and ceilings meet
- Heads of screws
- Backpacks and luggage
- Under seats of cars or public transportation
Bed bugs are primarily active at night and will hide in these places during the day. They are attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide, both of which humans give off in abundance when they sleep. Bed bugs will travel 5 to 20 feet from their hiding places to find a blood meal. They will also inject an anesthetic when they bite a host so their feedings often go undetected.
Protecting yourself from bed bugs both at home and when traveling is critical. Here are some bed bug prevention tips you can use.
- Check any used furniture or appliances thoroughly before bringing it into your home.
- Use mattress and box spring covers to completely encase them.
- Declutter your home to reduce hiding places.
- Vacuum frequently to pick up hitchhikers.
- If using shared laundry facilities, transport your clothes to and from in sealable plastic bags and fold them when you get home.
- If living in a multifamily home (e.g. an apartment complex), install door sweeps to minimize access from hallways and seal cracks and crevices around baseboards and electrical sockets.
- Keep your belongings stored separately from others.
- Carefully inspect all areas of the room you are staying in where bed bugs can hide using a flashlight.
- Wrap your suitcase in plastic when not in use and store it on luggage racks or in the bathroom.
- Keep briefcases and purses in your lap when in an airport or train/bus station.
- Inspect your luggage thoroughly once you return home.
- Wash all clothes (even ones not used) immediately in hot water and dry on high heat.
Bed bugs can survive temperatures as low as 46 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bug treatment with heat must be done with sustained temperatures higher than this to ensure the heat reaches the bugs no matter where they hide. If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with the most effective bed bug control treatment plan for your situation.