How to Know If You Have Bed Bugs: The Signs to Look For

Bed bugs are sneaky little critters. But the worst part about an infestation is that you never really know about it until it’s too late and you need to exterminate, unless, of course, you know what to look for. Bed bugs are experts at hiding, burrowing, and breeding without you even knowing it. Even if your home is spick-n-span most days of the week, bed bug infestations can still happen. So, how to know if you have bed bugs? Here are the top signs to look for and how to recognize an adult culprit!


How to Know If You Have Bed Bugs: An Odd Smelling Odor

It sounds rather creepy, but like many insects, bed bugs give off certain pheromones. It’s these pheromones that you might be able to smell if you have an issue with bed bugs.

You’ll have to look out (or sniff out) an odor that is slightly sweet, yet musty. Some people compare the smell to coriander, while others compare it to the smell of raspberries.

However, you don’t want to rely on the musty-sweet odor of bed bugs before you identify an infestation. By the time you notice their smell, the infestation could be more advanced than you anticipated and you’ll need to call in an expert, such as

There are a few other signs to look out for in order to nip an infestation in the bud while you can…

2. Bites Across the Limbs

Very often this is one of the first and most obvious signs of bed bugs in your home. As mentioned, bed bugs are sneaky critters that only make an appearance at night to feed while you sleep.

If you or your children wake up with bites across the legs or arms — specifically near the ankles or wrists, this could be a sign of bed bugs. With this in mind, it’s crucial to be aware of the fact that bed bug bites don’t always occur in a pattern of threes or a straight line, for that matter.

This pattern is usually referred to as ”breakfast, lunch, and dinner”. But not all bed bugs feed this way. Some bed bugs may get a big enough meal on their first bite. Or, they may need to bite a second, third, or fourth time until they’re satisfied. This can cause an irregular pattern and number of bites.

Some people also react differently to bed bug bites in that they may not show an immediate reaction. While others could react in an allergic way where the bites are very inflamed and itchy.

Most of the time, a bed bug bite will appear as a small, round, flat, and itchy mark that is slightly red.

3. Rust-Colored Bed Sheet Stains

Bed bugs may be minute, but they are still susceptible to injury, and rarely do all bed bugs escape back to their burrowing spots unharmed. This is another sign of bed bugs — if you wake up with rust-colored stains on your sheets, you could have very well crushed a bed bug or two in your sleep.

The stain may also look a bit like human blood. So check yourself for scabs etc. and make sure it wasn’t you who could have stained your sheet during the night. If there’s no other explanation for the stains, you want to do a thorough check for bed bugs!

4. Fecal Marks Across Your Sheets or Mattress

You also want to look for bed bug fecal matter that could appear on your sheets, but also your mattress or a mattress protector. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood — this means that their fecal matter appears in a very obvious way.

Look for small, dark blotches that are a little bigger than a period mark at the end of a sentence. These marks may also look like magic marker stains that have been smeared across your sheets or mattress.

5. Bed Bug Eggs

No one wants to lift up their mattress and find a collection of beg bug eggs — but if you’re looking for beg bugs, there’s a very real reality that this is what you could find.

Pregnant female bed bugs lay up to 7 eggs per day. They are pretty small though at 1mm in length and are pearl white in color with an oval shape. If the eggs have a black spot in the middle, this means they are already more than 5 days old.

You can generally find bed bug eggs in the crevices of your mattress, along the edge of your bed frame, in the folds of your duvet cover, etc. And bear in mind that pregnant females tend to wander and lay their eggs in different spots. So, if you find eggs, you want to check the other beds in your home too!

6. Bed Bug Skin Castings

Also known as shell castings, bed bugs tend to shed their outer-most layer as they move through their 5 different life cycle stages, until they reach adulthood. Before they move on to each new stage, they feed, then shed an exoskeleton.

You want to look for hollow, translucent skin or shell-like castings on the underside of your mattress. They may be easier to find than the actual bed bugs themselves.

How to Identify an Adult Bed Bug

It’s easy to mix up a bed bug with any other small critter that might make its way into your home. In order to properly identify bed bugs, you need to know what to look for:

  • Bed bugs cannot fly and only have small, vestigial front wings
  • Look for a wide abdomen and a narrow head/thorax
  • Bed bugs are flat and brown/rust-colored. However, the nymphs are pale in color
  • They have 6 legs and 2 antennae

When looking for bed bugs throughout your home, there is no room that’s off-limits. Yes, they most commonly live and breed in the bedroom, but you also want to look at other items of furniture. They tend to hide and burrow in small cracks and crevices. So check your furniture, cushions, seams, curtain folds, baseboards, and bed frames.

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So, how to know if you have bed bugs? Look for the more obvious signs such as bed bug bites or stains on your sheets, and don’t put off calling in an extermination expert in order to take care of the problem before the infestation becomes dire!

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