bed bug crawling on bed

Bed bugs are a growing problem in the U.S. and fear of bed bug infestations is growing as well. So it isn't surprising that we get a lot of questions about the warning signs bed bugs leave behind. Answering these questions is often a challenge because we have to first dispel many of the myths people have heard about bed bugs, myths such as, "Bed bugs are so small you can't see them with the naked eye." This is not true. Most people can see bed bugs just fine. And proper identification of bed bugs is the first way you can tell that you have a bed bug infestation. So, let's start there as we look at the warning signs of a bed bug infestation.

Warning Sign 1: Bed Bugs

These insects range in size from 1 to 4.5 millimeters in length. At 1 mm, they're pretty small but you can still see them. If you have a tiny bed bug feeding on you, you're likely to see it because immature nymphs are pale in color and are mostly transparent. This means your blood will be clearly seen in its abdomen.

It might seem strange to think of bed bugs themselves as a warning sign but they are. The appearance of one immature nymph feeding on your skin is an indication of an established infestation in your home.

An immature nymph has six legs, is pale in color, and is likely to have visible red blood in its abdomen. If it has not fed recently, you may see black excrement inside the structure of its abdomen.

As a bed bug matures it becomes tan in color and eventually reddish brown. Over time, it develops horizontal ridges on its abdomen that are visible, and it starts to look like the pictures of bed bugs that news agencies post during their reports. Bed bugs are usually oval and flat but, after a blood meal, they will appear bloated, pill-shaped, and redder.

Warning Sign 2: Excrement

Everywhere bed bugs roam, they can leave their excrement. These black feces may appear as a streak on an outlet cover or patches of black on a mattress seam. They can be a black spot on the stitching of a piece of upholstered furniture or speckles on the edge of a carpet. If you're seeing sticky black particles, patches, or streaks on the items in your home, especially between your mattress and box spring, you might have a bed bug infestation.

Warning Sign 3: Cuticles

When we think of cuticles, we think of fingernails, right? When referring to the cuticle of a bed bug, we're talking about their skin. As a bed bug passes through its 5 instars (development stages) it sheds its cuticle. If you find shed insect skins in your home, you may have an infestation of bed bugs. These will usually be found in tight spaces, seams, creases, pockets, sticking, and recesses.

Warning Sign 4: Eggs

Bed bug eggs are about 1 mm in length, pale in color, and shiny. They may be littered about or attached in a group. You'll find them in the same places listed above. One specific place to look for bed bug eggs is in the seams and creases of suitcases and duffel bags. This could prevent an infestation from taking root.

Warning Sign 5: Blood

Dried red or brown blood stains on sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding can alert you to a bed bug infestation. You may also see these stains on upholstered furniture, carpets, drapes, and fabrics. When you do, it is important to look for the other warning signs listed here to connect the blood stains directly to bed bugs.

Warning Sign 6: Bites

Hopefully, this is not the sign you see, but it is important to recognize these bites when you see them. If you see bites on your kids when they come back from staying overnight somewhere if you see them on your grandparents when they pay you a visit, or you see bites on anyone coming into your house, recognizing those bites could prevent an infestation.

What Should You Do When You Find The Warning Signs Of Bed Bugs?

DIY bed bug treatments rarely work. They can also cause harm to you, your family, and your belongings. Contact a professional for effective treatment.

If you live in Knoxville or the surrounding area, start here for professional bed bug control.


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