Bed bugs leave behind several signs of their presence in and around the beds they infest. You will notice red, puffy bite marks on your legs, arms, and armpits. Infesting bed bugs also leave waste and bloodstains, shed skin, eggs, and musty odor in their hiding places.

Unfortunately, bed bugs can be quite subtle. They have to remain unnoticed if they want to survive, after all! To identify a bed bug infestation (especially early on), you’ll have to get good at recognizing easily-missed signs. Here are the six telltale signs you have a bed bug infestation and how to spot them:

Bites

This is the most obvious sign. Bed bug bites are frequently mistaken for mosquito bites because they look very similar. When bed bugs bite, they make small, puffy red spots. The mark may be dark red in the center with a lighter red ring around it. Your bed bug bites may or may not feel itchy. 

Bed bugs can feed from anywhere on their victim’s bodies. They usually bite areas that are exposed while sleeping. Look for bed bug bites around your ankles, thighs, wrists, armpits, neck, arms, hands, and face. They bite in irregular, zigzagging clusters. Unfortunately, you’ll probably find more and more bites over time.

Dark Stains

Bed bugs leave behind their dark, greasy waste wherever they go. Over time, this waste smears into the sheets, fabric, or flooring around where they live. These stains build up fastest in areas where the bugs spend most of their time hiding during the day. 

Look for small, round dark or “rusty” looking smears at the corners or bottom of your bed. They might look like dirt or excrement and may feel either greasy or dry. You may find bloodstains, eggs, shed skin, and other evidence nearby these stains.

Shed Skin

Growing bed bugs have to molt after each and every time they feed. They will shed their skin five times before reaching maturity. Bed bugs shed in their daily hiding places shortly after a blood meal. After shedding, they leave their skin behind. 

Shed bed bug skin is a translucent tan color. It will be very small and may be hard to spot. Shed skin becomes dry and flaky quickly, so it’ll feel dry and may even crumble if you touch it. Look for shed skin in places where bed bugs hide, such as the underside or corners of the bed.

bed bug on a piece of furniture near its eggs and offspring

Eggs

Bed bug eggs are very small, rice or pill-shaped, and translucent white or grey. They can be very difficult to see, or may just resemble specks of dirt or fabric. Bed bugs eggs are sticky and cling to sheer surfaces. Adults lay their eggs near food sources, so they will be on or near your bed.

Look for bed bug eggs in the usual places where bed bugs might hide. They may lay their eggs under the bed, on the sides, or in the corners. Bed bugs may also hide near (but not actually on) the bed, so check the headboard and nightstand, too.

Blood Stains

Bed bugs leave behind blood stains in a couple of different ways. First, they might lose some of the blood they suck when detaching. You could also crush feeding bed bugs by rolling around while you’re asleep. Bloodstains left behind by the bugs may be spot-shaped or streaks, depending on how they happened.

Bloodstains don’t necessarily mean you have a bed bug infestation. Look for stains in places where there couldn’t be another explanation, like the foot, corners, or sides of the bed. Bloodstains might also mix with the rusty stains of bed bug excrement.  

Musty Odors

Bed bugs secrete hormones from scent glands in order to mark their homes and feeding sites. These hormones smell musty, a bit like “a damp towel” or dirty laundry. The bigger the infestation, the more powerful (and unpleasant) the stench becomes.

Bed bugs secrete their odor around places where they hide, feed, and gather. It will smell strongest near their hiding places around the sides, bottom, and corners of the bed. It can be hard to correctly identify this odor, so look for it in association with other signs.

 

Bed bug infestations spread rapidly as the pests become established and lay eggs. Bed bug eggs only take days to hatch and offspring begin feeding almost immediately. If you think you have a bed bug infestation, you should take care of it ASAP.

The moment you discover your bed bug infestation, get in touch with Griffin Pest Solutions. Our experts use heat treatments to wipe your bed bug infestation out completely and permanently. If you ever suspect you have an infestation, or you just have bed bug-related questions, Griffin is your pest resource. We’ll make sure the bed bugs don’t bite.

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