There are no two ways about it—spotting even a single bed bug in your home is cause for concern. While you may think that just one tiny speck of a pest may not be a big deal, it can signal you have a full-on infestation growing under your nose.
If you find even just a few bed bugs, you need to call in the professionals. Reputable pest control companies have decades of experience battling bed bugs and can perform thorough inspections and devise treatment plans. You should always get several quotes before you make your final decision.
Why a Few Bed Bugs Are a Risk
While it’s possible just a few hitchhikers found their way into your home after scuttling onto a piece of luggage after a hotel stay, or clinging to an overnight guest’s clothing, if you find any, there are probably more. Bed bugs are not solitary creatures, and they live in large groups.
There’s especially cause for concern if there are any female bed bugs—if one is pregnant, it will start laying eggs rapidly and then reproduce with its offspring. A single female can lay 500 eggs in her lifetime.
If you spot even a couple bed bugs, it’s best to call a professional pest control company. But if you’re curious, you can try to see if the tiny pest you’ve cornered is female. While male bed bugs have pointed abdomens, the females’ abdomens are round. Bed bugs are just 7 millimeters at the longest, so this may be a hard distinction to see.
Why It’s Hard to Spot Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are very stealthy pests. They are as thin as a credit card, have a reddish-brown color that easily blends into bed frames and lots of furniture, and don’t fly—so it’s unlikely you’ll catch them crawling around from across the room.
It doesn’t help that they feed at night, while you’re too busy sleeping to be on the lookout. Even if they bite you, you might remain unaware of their presence. People experience a wide variety of responses to bed bug bites. You may have no mark, a small mark, or even an allergic reaction.
How to Make Sure It’s a Bed Bug
Before you jump to conclusions, it’s a good idea to confirm that what you’ve found really is a bed bug. Bed bugs are oval-shaped, reddish-brown, less than 10 millimeters long, and have six legs and small, segmented antennae.
Some common pests people mistake for bed bugs include cockroach nymphs, carpet beetles, and fleas.
Signs You Have Bed Bugs
There are several key signs that you may have more than just one bed bug.
- Blood stains—A rusty red stain on your bedding means you may have squashed a bed bug before it digested its meal.
- Exoskeletons—Delicate, molted, near-translucent skins are evidence of bed bugs. They look just like them, except for the color.
- Eggs/egg casings—They may only be the size of a pinpoint, but they’re a surefire sign that bed bugs have hatched in your living space—or were about to.
- Fecal matter—These dark, black-ish spots indicate bed bugs have been feeding on you. They can look a lot like ink spots.
- Bite marks—If you’re part of the population that has a reaction to bed bugs, you’re likely to find the marks on your face, neck, arms, and hands.
- Musty, sweet odor—This unpleasant, moldy smell comes from bed bugs’ scent glands.
How to Search for Bed Bugs
If you want to search for any other signs of bed bug activity before you call in the professionals, you should start by moving your bed away from the walls. The pests are called bed bugs for a reason. They love to live close to their food, and tend to cluster in your bed frame, mattress, box spring, and bedding.
Strip all the bedding and turn all pillowcases and comforters inside out. Comb through every crease and fold. Your mattress and box spring are popular bed bug homes—especially the piping around the edges of your mattress. Flip your mattress over and thoroughly check both sides. You’ll need to be thorough and take apart your bed frame, then go over every single joint slowly.
But you shouldn’t stop there. Bed bugs can live in walls, baseboards, carpets, rugs, furniture, clothing, and even electrical outlets and electronics. You’ll need to pore over each and every one of these areas, using a credit card to scrape and a flashlight to help you find signs of exoskeletons, eggs, and egg casings.
Calling the Professionals
There are a few measures you can take from there, like thoroughly washing your linens and drying them on the hottest heat possible, and purchasing encasements for your mattress and box spring. But your next step should be calling a professional pest control company.
After performing an extensive inspection, each company will develop a targeted, tailored plan to eliminate all bed bugs—the eggs, visible ones as well as any that may be hiding. We recommend reaching out to each one to gather quotes and find your best fit.
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