Are you worried you’ve got a bed bug infestation on your hands? Well, we’re not surprised! A whopping 84% of American households experience a pest problem each year, and few are as troublesome, distressing, and downright disgusting as Cimex lectularius (AKA, bed bugs).
The good news is that these insects aren’t known to spread disease. The bad news is that they’re tiny, parasitic, blood-sucking, and hard to get rid of! As a result, these creepie crawlies cause all sorts of trouble wherever they set up shop.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize the early signs of bed bugs when they arise. Trust us, time is of the essence! If you find them early, you have a much better chance of preventing a full-blown infestation, saving yourself a whole bunch of irritation (both literal and figurative) in the process.
Sound good? Keep reading to discover 5 early warning signs of bed bugs that you can’t afford to ignore.
1. Red Itchy Bites
One of the first signs of bed bugs is the presence of red and raised itchy bites on your skin. They might appear in clusters on your body- particularly in areas that remain exposed when you’re asleep. Your hands, wrists, shoulders, back, and neck are a few places worth paying close attention to.
Alas, identifying bed bug bites isn’t always easy. They look very similar to the bites you get from other tiny insects- especially fleas and mites. This causes many homeowners to misidentify the issue, blame other factors (such as their pets) for the problem, and give the bed bugs more time to proliferate as a result.
One way to sidestep this potential misdiagnosis is to see a doctor about your bites. With any luck, they’ll able to tell you whether or not bed bugs are to blame. Better still, you can get some cream and/or medication to address the itchy bites while you’re at it.
2. Tiny Blood Marks
Bed bugs are bloodsuckers and leave evidence of that fact behind.
For example, you might have crushed some without realizing it, causing small, pin-head-sized blood marks to appear on whatever surface they were on at the time. Likewise, bed bug excrement contains the blood of whoever they were feeding on last. They leave these tiny droplets of excrement in their wake, which then bleed into the fabric.
Be on the lookout for both types of blood marks in your home. If you ever see them on your bedding, furnishings, or clothes, then it’s a sure-fire sign of Cimex lectularius.
Top tip: don’t expect either type of stain to be bright red though. Remember, the blood we’re talking about has been digested and expelled by the bed bug, which means it’s usually dark brown, rusty-colored, or even black. That fact can be misleading for homeowners who are on the hunt for signs of red instead!
3. Eggs, Shells, and Skins
Blood isn’t the only evidence bed bugs leave behind either. You might also come across their eggs, eggshells, and the yellowy-colored skins they shed as they grow. These physical signs of bed bugs are all tiny (think around 1mm or so), though they can accumulate over time into more obvious indications of an infestation.
Indeed, bed bugs shed (or ‘molt’) their exoskeletons up to 5 times throughout their lifespan! That means significant infestations can cause countless skins to collect in your home.
Each aforementioned sign of bed bugs is likely to appear together and in the same location too. For instance, you might lift up your bedsheets to see a mass of eggs, exoskeletons, blood marks, and even the bugs themselves. It’s up to you to look in the usual places and take immediate remedial action if you spot anything untoward.
4. A Musty Scent
Early signs of bed bugs aren’t always visual in nature though. There’s an olfactory sign to be on the alert for when identifying bed bugs as well. Basically, when there are lots of these pests in one place, they start producing pheromones that smell both strong and unpleasant.
The scent itself is musty, dank, and reminiscent of dirty laundry. Assuming it isn’t actually dirty laundry that’s causing the trouble, it’s worth doing a closer visual inspection of the area! There may be bed bugs hiding somewhere that need to be dealt with ASAP.
5. Bugs in the Bed
The clearest sign of bed bugs is, of course, their presence in your bed! If you have the slightest inkling that they’ve infested your house, then this should be the first place you look. As gross as it is to think about, they could be hiding right there on (and in) your mattress, around your sheets, and on the bed frame.
Don’t stop there either. This isn’t exactly an early warning sign, but in worst-case scenarios bed bugs can end up all over your home. Look for evidence of them in upholstered sofas, in curtains and blinds, beneath loose wallpaper, and anywhere else they can get to.
Don’t Forget These Early Signs of Bed Bugs
Pest problems of every variety are ubiquitous in the United States nowadays. Yet not all of them are made equal!
And of every infestation for a homeowner to stress about, few are more disconcerting than bed bugs. The thought of having these insects in your house is almost as bad as the reality of it. Blood-sucking and parasitic, it’s in everybody’s best interest to keep them out and/or address the issue ASAP.
We hope the early signs of bed bugs that we’ve highlighted here will help in this regard. Keep them in mind and you should have a much better chance of catching a bed bug infestation before it spirals out of control.
Are you based in Columbia SC and need professional support to clear your home of pests? Contact us today to find out how we can be of service.