“Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” is a nursery rhyme as old as time. For thousands of years, these pesky little critters have been wreaking havoc on our comfort and sleep, leaving us with itchy bites and a creepy feeling of discomfort as we can imagine these pests crawling on us as we rest in our most vulnerable state. Bedbugs are the LAST thing any homeowner, hotel owner, or landlord wants to worry about.
Signs You May Have a Bedbug Problem
Waking up with bites is commonly thought of as telltale sign of a bedbug infestation, however it isn’t always the most accurate way to identify that you have a bedbug problem. In fact, 30% of people that receive a bedbug bite do not exhibit any skin reactions at all. Since we are all different, our bodies will often react in different ways to a bedbug bite and can commonly be mistaken for the bite of another type of bug. Knowing this, there are still some common symptoms of a bedbug bite that may help you in identifying a possible infestation.
The most common symptom of bedbug bites is red, itchy bumps that appear in small clusters on the skin. This can often be referred to as the “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” pattern, which describes these red itchy bumps appearing in lines of 3 to 4. Although these bumps can appear in lines or clusters, these bumps can also appear as singular bites in various places, and the possibility of bedbugs should not be ruled out simply if these bites do not appear in groups. The number of bedbug bites you may receive can also be an indicator as to how severe your bedbug infestation is, as it is rare for a singular bedbug to give more than one bite at a time.
When bedbugs bite, they feed on our blood, and continuously feed on us until they become fully engorged with our blood. This is what gives bedbugs their red-ish color. If you crush a bedbug in your sleep while it is feeding, it can leave behind a blood stain. These blood stains will primarily appear as small dark circles or small smeared stains on your sheets, pillows, or clothes. Before you pin a bloodstain on having bedbugs however, it is important to first check your body for any cuts or scabs that could have also caused a bloodstain. If no other explanation can be found for a bloodstain, this could very well be an indication of bedbugs.
#3: Fecal Marks
Comparable to bloodstains that may be found as the result of a bed bug infestation, fecal marks can also be found, and may also make appearances on your sheets and clothes. These marks will appear as tiny dark brown or black spots, around the size of a pen tip. Although these marks can show up on your sheets and clothes, these marks may also show up on your mattresses, headboards, box springs, and even walls and curtains. These marks will usually show up in greater numbers around the spots your bedbugs may like to hide, such as under the creases in mattress edges. Fecal marks may give off a faint and unpleasant rusty smell.
While fecal marks from bedbugs can add to the overall bad smell of an infestation, that is not the only factor that can cause this type of infestation to smell. Bedbugs, when bothered or threatened, will emit “alarm” pheromones. This odor can smell similar to that of a stink bug, and has been described as smelling musty, woody, rotten, or even somewhat sweet like a raspberry. Many have also compared it to the smell of concentrated coriander. This smell will likely get worse the larger the infestation is and tends to linger in the air. However, because the severity of the smell often has a correlation with the amount of bedbugs present, you likely will not be able to tell that you have a bedbug infestation just from smell if it is in it’s early stages.
#5: Eggs and Shell Casings
If you stumble across what may look to be bedbug eggs or shell casings, chances are you most definitely have a bedbug problem. The eggs of a bedbug look very similar to small grains of rice, appearing pearly white in color and ovular in shape. At the end of each egg is a hinged cap, this is where a newly hatched bug will emerge from. Most commonly, bedbug eggs can be found laid in pods or clusters in-between the crevices of wooden surfaces or fabrics, such as the lower sides of a bed, but can really be found just about anywhere due to the eggs themselves being quite sticky.
As a bedbug grows, it will have to shed its skin 5 times before reaching the full level of maturity. The skins they leave behind are slightly smaller than the bug itself and look translucent, slightly crusty, and are pale yellow in color. These shell casings are often much easier to find than the bedbugs themselves and can be found anywhere that they hatch and breed. It is recommended that you check for these shells in mattress seams, by your headboard, under the bed, and within holes, cracks, and crevices of any wooden furniture.
I Think That I Have Bedbugs, What Now?
If after looking for some of these signs you have reason to believe that you have bedbugs, or have even found a bedbug itself, it is encouraged that you seek professional help. Although there are plenty of DIY and home remedies out there that promise to rid you of your bed bugs, they are not 100% effective and leave room for an infestation to return. Solving a bedbug infestation can be extremely difficult to do, especially if you are attempting to do it on your own. Not only does the sheer number of bugs make this type of infestation so hard to deal with, but many common over-the-counter pesticides have also been proven to be ineffective in killing, due to bedbugs being resistant to some insecticides. If so much as a single female mated bug is left behind, an infestation can begin again in as little as just a few months.
By far, the best method to eliminate a bedbug infestation is having your property treated with heat. There are other methods of removing and exterminating bedbugs that may help, but this method is guaranteed to solve an infestation. It is 100% effective, 100% of the time. In a heat treatment, the home is heated to temperatures of 130 degrees for 24 hours. This treatment works by drying out the bugs’ bodies, killing them quickly, and it reaches every inch of the affected house, guaranteeing that no hiding bug or egg can make it out alive.