The First Signs of Bed Bugs

Finding the early signs of bed bugs gives you time to prepare before you hire professional help, affording you a better opportunity to kill off the infestation before it gets larger and more difficult to handle.

Before you begin to look for any signs, it’s helpful to know how infestations begin. According to Pest Central, all that is needed is a single female or several eggs to start your bed bug problems. These can be brought in by your luggage after traveling, by used furniture, or even by a guest that came from a motel, hotel, or another home that was infested by bed bugs. Additionally, bed bugs are apt to flourish in small, packed places, like compact apartments and studios. Knowing how you can be at risk can make you more alert and can help you avoid overlooking what might be potential signs of the start of an infestation. Here are some early signs that you might have a bed bug problem.

Since bed bug infestations start off small, the initial signs may be very hard to spot. Contrary to popular myth, bed bugs are a structural pest like termites. They will almost always hide in the walls, floors, and other remote places. They like to come out 30 minutes each, every five days, and they are feeding on you for 10 minutes of that time. Then it’s back to their remote hiding spot. The mattress is usually the last place bed bugs infest, and so while tiny round, dark pellets and red blood dots are a telltale sign of bed bug droppings, most people don’t see these early on since there aren’t that many bed bugs aggregating in visible areas.

Bed bug bites on your body are almost always one of the first visible signs of an infestation. This, however, is not always a surefire method of identification; some people have no reaction to bed bug bites.

In the first month or two, bed bugs typically travel anywhere from 10 to 20 feet away from where you sleep. This means you will find signs of infestation outside of your mattress, in places around your bed frame, on other furniture, in slits between the baseboard and the floor, in windowsills and other small crevasses, all in that 10- to 20-foot radius. Bed bugs aggregate in small groups. So in one room, there would be multiple aggregations even in the early stages. Note that after 6 to 9 weeks, they will have aggregations throughout the apartment or house.

Other signs are shed skin left behind by bed bugs as they grow into adults and, of course, bed bugs themselves, which live close to their host (that’s you). Please note, a cast skin does not look like lint or a cornflake. A cast skin looks like an intact bed bug complete with six legs, two antennae, a head, and body, just no life. You cannot mistake a cast skin. So if it looks like lint, it’s lint. Don’t worry.

Spotting signs of bed bugs early on is only the start of a series of steps you will need to take make sure your infestation does not grow out of control. Once you are sure you have bed bugs, it’s best to leave the rest to professionals. Here are two lists that detail preparations that should be done before letting professionals use chemical or heat treatment to eradicate your bed bug problem.

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