As a homeowner, you have probably heard horror stories about bedbugs. These pests can come from anywhere, and they often prove particularly difficult to exterminate. In a previous blog, we discussed how to avoid bringing bedbugs into your home.
But vigilance isn’t a surefire guarantee you won’t ever have to deal with bedbugs, especially if you have pets or children who might bring the bugs in. So how do you know if this pest has infiltrated your home?
In this blog, we list five signs of a serious bedbug infestation that will likely require professional removal.
1. Blood Smears on Upholstered Furniture
Bedbugs often come in large family groups. Because you’ll rarely have a single bug crawling on any given surface and the bugs feed during the night, bedbugs often get squished by sleepers. If the bug fed recently, it will leave a little blood smear behind.
Usually by the time you begin to see blood smears, you will also already observe some of the other signs on this list.
2. Dark Spots on Beds or Couches
Bedbugs make their homes in small spaces, but they don’t spend all of their time in cracks and crevices. When bedbugs travel over your furniture, they leave small fecal droppings. To the naked eye, these droppings usually just look like a series of black spots which usually appear on the edges of upholstered furniture.
If the droppings appear over a spread out area, you may need a magnifying glass to see the spots properly and rule out other causes. Droppings may appear in the following locations:
- Creases in bedding or upholstery
- Cushion edges and seams
- Headboard, especially in cracks
- Mattress edges and seams
- Space beneath accent pillows
Droppings can also appear in the clutter around an affected piece of furniture.
3. Egg Shells or Skins in Small Spaces
Like other bugs, bedbugs reproduce by laying eggs and grow by shedding their skin. Reproduction and growth usually leave visible residue, especially when you have a large infestation.
If bedbug offspring are grouped particularly close together, you may see what appears to be white clumps in infested areas. You likely will not see any bedbug offspring since the larvae and young bugs are too small for the naked eye to discern easily. Instead, you may notice dark brown, tan, or transparent shed skin and whitish egg shells.
These signs may appear in the same place as bedbug droppings or where the bedbugs have started living. Check any small spaces, especially cracks in wooden furniture.
4. Itchy Bites in Linear Patterns
Bedbugs can survive by solely eating human blood. When a bedbug feeds, it leaves an itchy, red bite mark. You will likely notice more than one bite at a time.
Usually, bedbug bites appear in a triangular pattern on the skin. However, they can also appear in any of the following ways:
- Circular but asymmetrical raised welts
- Clusters of bites that may resemble mosquito bites
- Rashes surrounding smaller bite marks
- Small, irritated dots
- Welts with a spot of blood at the center
These bites can be confused with other skin conditions and insect bites, so if you aren’t sure whether or not a patch of skin irritation comes from bedbugs, see a doctor.
Keep in mind that bedbugs only feed from exposed skin, so you’re unlikely to see bites on your legs or torso. Bites most often appear on the ankles and feet, hands and wrists, and neck.
5. Visible Bedbugs in Seams and on Sheets
Unlike their offspring, you can see adult bedbugs with the naked eye. You just may need to do some searching to find them. You’ll see several small bugs with an oval shape.
Try looking for bedbugs during the night using a flashlight or checking crevices where the bugs hide during the day. Don’t forget that bedbugs also hide in electrical outlets, books, and cupboards around the main infestation. Look for bugs in localized clutter as well.
Remember, even if you get rid of all the bugs you can see, bedbugs can become dormant and their young are practically invisible. If you find adult bedbugs, you’ll need professional help to get rid of the problem.
If you notice any combination of the signs on this list, call an exterminator with experience working with bedbugs specifically. Don’t put off getting professional help as bedbug bites can have a range of negative effects, including allergic reactions, rashes, and psychological effects.
As you work with a professional or wait for your scheduled inspection, use the strategies found in our Bedbug Flyer to begin dealing with the problem. Remember to stay patient while eliminating a bedbug infestation since the process takes a minimum of two weeks in almost every case.
For more information about protecting your home and family from bedbugs and other pests, read our other blog posts.