Nighty-night, don’t let the bed bugs bite…
No one wants to think about sharing a mattress with insects, yet this is an unfortunate circumstance that many have to face.
Surprisingly, the cleanliness of a home doesn’t affect its likelihood for a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs can lurk anywhere, from the ritziest mansions to the most rundown apartment complexes.
Knowing this, the best preventative measure is to check for bed bugs periodically. That way, if you notice signs of an infestation, you can take care of it before it gets any worse.
Keep reading to learn how to check for bed bugs and what to do if you find them.
Table of Contents
Bed Bugs: A Brief Background
The bed bug has held a spot as one of the most common household pests for quite some time now. Their creepy-crawly existence is not only bothersome to think about: they also can leave itchy bites that cause irritation long after you’ve left the bed.
These tiny insects are roughly the size of an apple seed, with a flat ovular body that becomes inflated if they’ve recently fed. They are generally dark brown in color, but they take on a reddish-brown tint after feeding. They also have a three-segmented body, short golden hairs, antennae, and wings (though these can’t be used for flight).
Another key characteristic of bed bugs is the odor produced by their glands. The smell is quite pungent, with a sharp mustiness that is slightly sweet-smelling.
Bed bugs are commonly transferred via clothing, sheets, or other contaminated items that enter a home. Once an infestation occurs, it can be extremely difficult to deal with. This is why it’s important to check for bed bugs regularly, especially when traveling.
For more information on how bed bug infestations occur, you can click here.
What Attracts Bed Bugs?
As mentioned earlier, bed bugs aren’t particularly attracted to dirty or unsanitary living conditions. Instead, they much prefer warmth, carbon dioxide, and blood.
How to Check for Bed Bugs
To check for bed bugs, it’s best to set up a routine procedure on at least a monthly basis.
Here’s how to check for bed bugs, step-by-step:
- Check all surfaces for signs of infestation, such as a sweet musty odor, the insects themselves, or rust-colored stains.
- Lift furniture, mattresses, and bed frames, checking the items as well as the surrounding areas.
- Examine your body and clothing for signs of bed bugs.
If you travel, then it’s also important to check all clothing, bags, and soft items before bringing them into your home.
Where to Check for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs love warmth and soft objects, so all items fitting into this category will need to be inspected.
One of the most important places to check for bed bugs is your mattress. The insects tend to hide relatively well, but there are also some telltale signs that they leave behind. By checking your mattress for the insects, their markings, or their odor, you can immediately tell when an infestation is present.
Here are the main signs to watch for when you check for bed bugs in your mattress:
- The insects themselves (usually dark brown, ovular, and roughly the size of an apple seed)
- Bed bug eggs and encasements, which are small, pearly white, and about 1mm wide
- Molted skins, which are typically small and translucent in appearance
- Stains from fecal matter on sheets, carpeting, and other materials
- Red or rust-colored smears and stains on the mattress and/or sheets
Just as their name suggests, your mattress is one of the most common places for bed bugs to inhabit. If you discover the insects in your bed, it’s important to check other soft, inhabitable materials around your home to ensure bed bugs are not living there as well.
Bed bugs love to feast on human blood, leaving itchy bites and irritation behind. That’s why it’s important to check your body when you check for bed bugs.
These are the main characteristics of bed bug bites:
- Small, red, and flat bite marks
- Usually occurring in patches or clusters on the body
- Extremely itchy, may bleed if scratched
If you notice any strange, itchy bites on your skin that seemingly pop up overnight, then this could be a major sign of a bed bug infestation. Check your mattress and other inhabitable materials around your home if you notice bites on your skin.
If you receive or purchase soft, inhabitable used items, be sure to check them for bed bugs and signs of bed bugs. Used clothing should be washed before it’s worn and used furniture should be steam-cleaned before introducing it to your home.
Bed bugs can travel through your pets, so it’s important to check their skin and fur for signs of the insects. Be sure to bathe them regularly and wash their bed and soft toys, too.
Bed Bug Tips for Preventing Infestation
Learning to check for bed bugs is just one step in a total prevention plan. To keep you and your household protected, there are a number of other preventative measures to take.
Here are some tips for preventing a bed bug infestation in your home:
- Cover your mattress with a plastic protector to prevent the bugs from coming in
- Vacuum your mattress, carpeting, and other inhabitable materials regularly
- Store clothing and sheets in airtight plastic bags, especially when traveling
- Cover up power outlets to prevent bed bugs from entering your walls
- Thoroughly clean and check all used items before bringing them into your home
- Steam clean used furniture before bringing it into your home
It’s important to remember that bed bugs can travel to your home via used clothing, furniture, and other inhabitable items. Be sure to check and clean these items thoroughly to ensure you won’t be bringing bed bugs into your home.
Preventing Bed Bugs in Your Home
Nobody wants to think about the possibility of bed bugs entering their home, but it’s still a common occurrence that shouldn’t be ignored. Now that you know how to check for bed bugs, you’ll be prepared to keep your home free of an infestation.
For more topics, check out our other articles.