Bed Bug Infestations: Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bug infestations can arise anywhere people (or animals) sleep or rest.
Bed bugs are a small, brownish, flattened insect which feed solely on the blood of animals. These pests were, originally, introduced to the United States by early colonists. By the 1970s, bed bugs nearly vanished here but remained prevalent through other parts of the world. With changes in pest control practices (targeted control methods) and globalization, the bed bug has made a comeback in the U.S. over the last few decades accelerating in the past ten years.
Bed bug infestations can arise anywhere people (or animals) spend a fair amount of time sleeping and/or resting. This can include homes, apartments, hotels, airplanes, subways, buses, offices, theaters, libraries, etc. It can be hard to identify an infestation since the irritation from a bed bug bite is often confused with a rash or feeding by other biting insects like fleas and mosquitoes. As bed bugs are more common in “resting” areas such as hotels and dorms, to best protect oneself, a guest should check the mattress, box springs, headboard, couch cushions, and the edge of carpeting for starters. Bed bugs are encountered not only in Domestic but as well during International travel where they are more prevalent.
Being efficient hitchhikers and hard to detect, bed bugs are able to work their way into homes through suitcases, clothes, shoes, boxes, and secondhand furniture. These aren’t pests found solely within squalor. They do not feed on human food, so their presence in pristine conditions is very possible. Within the home, one should check bedrooms, couches and living rooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and anywhere luggage is stored. In heavy infestations, bed bugs can be found behind wall pictures, switch plates, cracks, and other hard to access areas.
The most common signs of infestation include blood smears, or droppings by the bed bug which is smeared through tossing and turning if on sheets. There may be dark spots on walls where the bed bug has deposited droppings. Finally, the insects themselves can be seen as cast shells or “skins” when they molt.
Another indication of an infestation is a distinct odor produced from their glands. In the presence of a larger infestation, an obnoxiously sweet smell is apparent. While most homeowners may not diagnose the smell, a trained professional should be able to identify.
If bed bugs are suspected, even if none of the signs are confirmed, call a professional. This is a job for a trained professional as rapid response is vital since populations can explode very quickly.
Bed bug blood smears on a wall inside an infested house:
View more bed bug infestation pictures.