How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs?

Outside of the boogey man, no image conjures greater nighttime terror than that of the bed bug. Itchy bites, crawling hordes and ruined furniture follow these fearsome feasters down their nocturnal path. Welts, sheds, and bed bug stains may mean you’ve got a bed bug infestation brewing in your bedroom.

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of. You’ll want to identify them quickly and act even more quickly if you’ve got them. Identification can be tricky – bed bugs like to hide in tight spots like mattress seams during the day. We don’t want you to lose sleep over pest problems, so we’ve tried to answer all your bed bug questions here. Hopefully, these answers will help you identify a potential bed bug problem and explain how to best respond.

Why Do Bed Bugs Bite?

We’ve all been warned not to let the bed bugs bite, but why do they want to torment us in our sleep? The short answer is food. Bed bugs need the protein from your blood to molt and mature into their adult form.  

bed bug bits on child's legs

Like mosquitoes, bed bugs have an elongated beak that they use to probe through your skin and into your blood vessels. They will feed for up to ten minutes until engorged and then hide again.

Mature females also use that nutrition to produce and lay their eggs. A female will average one egg/day and lay up to 250 eggs in her lifetime. While these numbers are low relative to other insects, you don’t want bed bugs propagating in your bedroom.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

If you’re reading this, chances are you woke up with suspicious bites on your skin that weren’t there the night before. Bed bug bites are similar to mosquito bites and can be easily confused with them.

Bed bug bites appear as small, pink and puffy spots with darker coloring in the center. They may or may not itch. While bed bugs can bite you anywhere, they usually concentrate in areas that were exposed while sleeping like hands, wrists, ankles, neck, and face. Bites usually occur in lines or irregular zig-zagging clusters and can accumulate over many nights.

The size of the bites will vary depending on your body’s reaction. People who are more sensitive or allergic will display larger bites. If you scratch your bites, they may become inflamed. Keep bites clean and use an antibacterial if they appear infected.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Now that we know what bed bug bites looks like, let’s identify the culprit behind them. A live bed bug sighting will be definite confirmation that you have a problem.

Bed bugs are tiny, Appleseed-sized insects. They are flat and oval shaped with horizontal ridges across their bodies. Bed bugs don’t have wings, but they are very fast movers.

bed bug anatomy

Bed bug nymphs are significantly smaller than the adults and may be difficult to spot. Check the EPA webpage for further info on identifying bed bugs at all stages.

What Does Bed Bug Shedding Look Like?

Growing bed bugs molt – or shed their outer skin – after each time they feed. They go through five stages of molting before they reach full maturity. During each stage, bed bugs leave behind their shed skins, which you might notice accumulating around your home and on your furniture.

A bug shed appears in the shape of an actual bug but is an abandoned hollow exoskeleton. They are pale and yellow and in color. Bed bug sheds are a sure sign of infestation and can be vacuumed up to remove.

What Do Different Types of Bed Bug Residue Look Like?

Bed bugs will leave behind several types of evidence that tie them to nighttime activities in your home or even you car. If you uncover any of the following at your crime scene, you probably have bed bugs:

close up image of a bed bug

Bed bug dirt. Bed bug waste is often confused with dirt because of its dark flaky appearance. Bed bug droppings are tiny, raised, brown or black smears. A sure way to test if the “dirt” you discover is bed bug fecal matter is to dab it with a wet paper towel. If the color turns from black to red, you’ve got bed bug poop. 

bed bug stains

Bed bug rust stains. Bed bugs are sloppy eaters and messy roommates. You may wake up to find reddish smears on your bed linens. Unfortunately, this is your own blood. Bedbugs use an anti-coagulant to keep your blood flowing while they feast. Once they’re finished, your blood may drip on them and the bed, causing the bed bug streaks and stains you see.

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

Bed bug eggs and egg casings. Bed bug eggs are tiny – about the size of a pin head – and will appear in small, rice-shaped, pearl colored clusters. Bed bugs lay their eggs in warm, quiet places like mattress folds, box springs, wall cracks and along baseboards where they won’t be disturbed. They use and adhesive to glue the eggs in place until the nymphs hatch – which happens in 6-10 days depending on the temperature.

Do Bed Bugs Smell?

Yes. A sweet or musty odor is another sign you may be invaded by bed bugs. Bed bugs secrete hormones from scent glands to mark their homes and feeding sites. The smell has been described as similar to “damp towel” or coriander depending on who you talk to.

This bed bug odor will be strongest around the places they hide and feed. It may be difficult to identify, so look for it in association with other signs in areas like your headboard, the corners of your mattress and under your box spring. If you are a frequent traveler, this may be a good way to stay alert for new companions.

I Have Bed Bugs, Now What?

 If you’ve confirmed that you have bed bugs through one or more of the signs above, you’ll want to act fast to get rid of them. The main methods to treat bed bugs are heat, cold and chemicals. A combination of methods may be most effective.

Bed bugs don’t like hot temperatures. Throwing anything affected by bed bugs in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes will kill them. If you travel frequently, you may want to do this with your belongings when you get home. Bed bugs are notorious hitch hikers and spread through high-travel areas like hotels and airplanes.

Cleaning bed sheets

While using your clothes dryer is a great option to kill bed bugs, it may not address a larger infestation and it won’t find them in all the areas that bed bugs hide. A pest control professional can assess and treat your home to make sure every bed bug is dealt with. Heat treatment is expensive but has proven to be very reliable for getting rid of bed bugs. We use portable heaters to raise the temperature in your home above 120 degrees for several hours to essentially bake all the bed bugs away.

Bed Bug Extermination in Michigan

If you have more questions about bed bugs or would like one of our pest control technicians to scour your home for signs of bed bugs, we’d love to hear from you. Call or contact Griffin today and make sure you sleep well tonight.

How Bed Bugs Get Into Your Home [Video]

Bed Bug close-up

Bed bugs re-emerged as a serious pest problem in Michigan and the rest of the US relatively recently. After they suddenly reappeared, the bloodsuckers started spreading like they were making up for lost time! Today, bed bugs are considered one of the worst pest problems facing Michigan’s cities.

One reason why bed bugs were able to spread so quickly is that people don’t understand how they spread. No matter how far they spread, however, it’s not too late for you to keep them away! That’s why we put together this video on how the annoying pests spread, and how you can stop them:

Obviously, there’s a reason why these bugs spread so successfully. They’re very good at sneaking into traveler’s bags and making themselves at home. Whether you brought them inside or a visitor did, it’s all-too-easy to end up with a bed bug infestation, despite your best efforts.

If you’re worried you have an infestation, don’t hesitate to call Griffin Pest Solutions right away. Our experts have the tools, experience, and knowhow to wipe out your pests quickly and effectively. If you’re having troubling sleeping tight, just get in touch right away. We’ll make sure the bed bugs don’t bite.

Bed Bugs in Michigan This Summer

Bed Bug close-up

This January, we updated you on the situation concerning bed bugs in Michigan. We predicted back then that the problem wouldn’t go away anytime soon, and unfortunately, we were right. In fact, it’s only become worse. This summer has been a banner season for bed bugs all over the US. We’ve answered the calls to prove it.

If you’re worried about bed bugs this summer, we can’t say we blame you. The best way to assuage those worries is to make your home bed bug-proof as best you can. The best way to do that is to understand how bed bugs work and how to counteract them. Here’s everything you need to know about this summer’s bed bug infestation, so you can do just that.

The Situation

It’s not just us–half the pest control companies in the US report that summer is their busiest bed bug season. The National Pest Management Association declared June 3rd to June 9th “National Bed Bug Awareness Week,” largely to get the word out. For our part, we’ve continued to take calls about bed bug infestations all over Michigan throughout summer. These calls from all kinds of places and people. Bed bug infestations can happen to anyone.

Why Summer?

Bed bugs often hide in luggage and other commonly-transported articlesThe big question: why are bed bugs more active in summer than other times of year, any way? There are two main reasons:

1. Heat

Bed bugs love heat. The hotter their environment, the more active they are, and the longer they remain active. That’s actually part of why bed bugs hunker down in mattress and sheets. When they move around more, they spread more. They can access more hiding places, including hiding places they might not otherwise find. The more diverse their hiding places, the greater the chance someone will accidentally transport them into a new home.

Heat also dehydrates bed bugs (just like it does to everything else). When bed bugs get thirsty, they’re more motivated to get moisture. Unfortunately, for them, moisture often means you. As if all that isn’t bad enough, heat also helps the bugs molt and grow faster. When they grow faster, they feed, reproduce, and spread faster, too. Heat weather accelerates bed bugs’ entire life cycle, which means they spread out more and infest more homes.

2. Travel

Overall, summer is easily the busiest travel time of year. Even the holiday seasons don’t come close, because they don’t last for months. You’re probably already tired of learning this, but bed bugs are consummate travelers. In fact, hitchhiking along with unsuspecting travelers is their primary means of spreading. They tag along inside your bag, luggage, sheets, or whatever else you’re transporting. Then, when you get unpacked, you’ve helped them move in without even noticing!

Unfortunately, we’re not exclusively referring to out-of-town travel, either. It doesn’t matter if your bed bugs came from a hotel 300 miles away or your neighbor’s house 5 miles away. Obviously, people move in and out of your home far more often during summer than other times of year. Often, they’re also carrying something in or out, too. Bed bugs are uncannily good at seizing on opportunities just like those to find a new place to live.

What Can You Do?

Carefully inspect your bed and the room around it for bed bugs whenever you're worried about infestationsFirst and foremost, figure out if you already have bed bugs. Strip your bed as bare as possible and check each component thoroughly. Don’t forget about the zippers, folds, and underside. Check around the bed too, in places like the headboard, frame, nightstand, and siding. If you find signs of an infestation, give us a call right away. Repeat the process with every bed in your home. Bed bugs are very small and flat, so we recommend using a flashlight to look for them.

After you’ve made sure you don’t have bed bugs, you just have to keep it that way. The best way to do that is to pay close attention to what’s coming into and out of your home. Bed bugs enter homes by hiding inside transported items. Whenever you bring in a piece of luggage from outside, inspect it thoroughly. Consider throwing anything you can into the dryer for 20 minutes after you bring it in. It sounds like a hassle, but it’s the best way to prevent bed bug infestations.

 

We expect to continue to receive all kinds of bed bug calls for the rest of summer, and beyond. Unfortunately, the upsetting insect is as tenacious as it is distressing. Bed bugs can come from just about anywhere and they can happen to just about anyone.

If you have a bed bug infestation, feel free to give Griffin a call. Like we said, we’ve fielded plenty of bed bug calls in the past. We’ve got all the tools, know-how, and experience we need to wipe yours out for good. Don’t let the bed bugs bite out of embarrassment; just give us a call and reclaim your summer!