How do I know if I have bed bugs?
Posted on 18th August 2022 at 07:45
How do I know if I have bed bugs?
Whether you’re involved in the hospitality industry, running a hotel or bed and breakfast or just an ordinary someone who’s sat at home, the thought of having a bed bug problem fills just about everyone with a mixture of fear and revulsion. No other pest gets the same level of disgust as bed bugs and just the thought that you’re sharing your bed with a hoard of blood sucking insects is enough to give anyone sleepless nights, and for those running hotels and guest houses, they face the prospect of complaints, demands for money back, bad reviews and even litigation in extreme cases.
When the phone rings and its bed bugs, more often than not the person on the phone is distraught and extremely stressed out at the thought of having these insects, and this spills over into situations where people have just seen just an insect on their bed and now demand a treatment no matter if its bed bugs or despite the cost. Fear is a factor that we just cannot overlook in these situations, and this will be exploited by many in the pest control industry.
As an example, we recently had a call from a property in Cox Green for bed bugs and the photos sent through, showed what was clearly just a small innocuous beetle, rather than being a pest it was something that’s flown in through an open window and landed on the bed – making it a bed bug in the customers mind. Because the caller had been getting bitten at night, they were adamant that they wanted a treatment which we refused to do; this is purely fear and no amount of explanation would shake the person off from demanding a treatment.
So, to help out we have put together a short blog with the five key signs of a bed bug infestation; these are the things to be on the lookout for if you suspect that you have bed bugs. If these indicators aren’t present, it’s likely that you don’t have them, and any bites or rashes that appear are in fact, coming from someplace else. There is no need to be fearful and no requirement for expensive and pointless treatments.
The five signs of a bed bug problem
Sign 1 - Bloodspots
Bed bugs are ferocious eaters and just eat the solid particles that make up our blood, they will bite several times when they feed, they also feed every other day or so and a pattern of being bitten then nothing for a couple of days followed by more bites occurs in the early stages of a bed bug infestation. Because the insect just feeds on the solid particles from our blood, they excrete the liquid part immediately, so it’s common to find numerous pinpricks sized black spots on sheets and pillowcases.
They will also release more of the liquid matter when they get back to their hiding place, as bed bugs hide in cracks and small gaps, one of the most common places to find bed bugs is on or around the headboard of the bed. We often find them hiding in the gap between the wooden upright that holds the headboard and the bed base or the mattress. To search, just loosen off the plastic nuts and slide the wood up a couple of inches; if you have bed bugs, you’ll see blood spots here for sure.
Sign 2 - Discarded skins
Without doubt bloodspots are the most reliable way of testing for a bed bug infestation especially in the beginning, but if you’re in a situation where there’s been a more longer-term infestation, then you will find discarded skins. As the insects mature they grow in a way where they have to shed their outer thick skeleton and these skins fall to the floor or onto part of the bed base and start to build up as a layer of debris.
With a reddish orange colour, the presence of discarded skins tells you that there has been a bed bug problem for some time and gives an indication of how severe it is, because not everyone reacts to the insect bites and some people get produce no reaction, finding what looks like bits of tiny peanut skin under the bed could be important.
Sign 3 - Insects
How do you know if you have a bed bug problem if you don’t react to the bites? We’ve had customers who have had a really bad bed bug problem and seeing live insects but thought that they were ladybirds or just a type of beetle.
The horrible truth about bed bugs, is that you are the host and it’s your blood that these insects drink and they come out when you’re in that space. If you see a lone bed bug wandering across the sheets when you wake up, don’t dismiss this as a harmless insect, the sure-fire test is to squeeze it – when it pops, if blood comes out then yes, you’ve got bed bugs.
Sign 4 - A musty smell
Bed bugs secrete themselves away in small gaps around the bed, you’ll find them roughly in three horizontal bands where we leave odours– the top of the bed is the most common area around our head, so look on the headboard paying special attention to the material that webs across the back of it.
You’ll also find bed bugs across the middle of the bed, and these will be under wooden slats on a frame bed or between the two separate sections of a divan bed. With divans, look at the openings for drawers as they’ll often hide in the exposed woodwork joints of the interior of the bed. And lastly you’ll find bed bugs at the end of the bed where our feet go, again they will be hiding under slats and where a bed has wooden slats, they will use any cracks of splits in the wood to rest up in.
Where bed bugs accumulate in numbers they give off an odour, all those deposits of blood along with bacteria start to give off a musty smell that is detectable, they smell like a damp sports towel that’s been left in a bag all weekend or like slightly rotten fruit depending on your nose and your own sense of smell.
Sign 5 - Bites
Bite patterns are not especially helpful to those in the hospitality industry but if you think that you’ve picked up bed bugs and bought them home from somewhere, the insects have a habit of biting along the line of exposed flesh. When they come out to feed, they’ll crawl across the bed and eventually encounter us and so they’ll begin feeding at the junction of skin and sheet or skin and nightwear. Once they’ve consumed enough blood they will expel the liquid content (again back to the bloodspots) and then begin feeding again. Quite often this behaviour forms a pattern of bites when you’re skin rests on top of the sheets or where your nightclothes finished.
We shouldn’t overly worry about having bed bugs, they are not attributed to us being dirty or unhygienic and all too often people make something larger and more ominous out of the problem. Having myself slept a night in a hotel bed that had bed bugs and not getting a good nights sleep because of it, I really understand how traumatic it is to have bed bugs.
When you stop and consider that bed bugs have been found not to be a vector of disease, unlike mosquito's which can pass on a range of nasty diseases, we should remain calm and act rationally if we think that we have bed bugs. If you don’t see one of these five signs, then any bites or rashes that you get are from another source and so a treatment to your bed will not solve the problem.
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Tagged as: Bed bugs
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