Finding bed bugs early on is crucial if you want to avoid allowing them to spread. Finding serious infestations is usually pretty easy, but low level infestations can be tricky to find. In some cases, they can be mistaken for other bugs. Some people just look out for bites, but this isn’t the best way to do it. If you have been waking up with bites that weren’t there when you went to sleep, then bed bugs are a possibility. However, some people don’t react to bed bug bites at all, so you must know how to check properly. Bed bugs don’t just turn up in unhygienic homes, you can find them just about anywhere. Even 5 star hotels! Here’s how you can check for bed bugs.
Wear Medical Gloves for Protection
Before you begin checking for bugs, it could be a good idea to wear medical gloves. Your hands might end up touching some gross stuff, and you definitely don’t want to end up getting bitten or spreading nasties around.
Have Some Tools Handy
It could be a good idea to have some tools handy to help you check too. Many people like to use an old credit card or another plastic card, and a strong torch.
What Are You Looking For?
There are a few things you should be looking out for when checking for bed bugs. The bugs themselves are small, flat and oval shaped with 6 legs. They have antennae and are a red/brown colour. Adults will usually be 5 or 6 mm in size. You may also find blood stains and dark stains. If you find shed skin, this is a sign you have a large infestation. Over 2 months, bed bugs can lay up to 500 eggs. The eggs are usually 1mm long and pearly white.
Checking the Bed
To check a bed, you’ll need to use your torch to check for blood stains and bed bug excrement. Bear in mind you probably won’t find anything if you’ve changed the sheets recently. Take off the mattress sheet and check the mattress itself. You might even find eggs and shed bed bug skin here, so be prepared. Using your credit card, run it along the mattress seam to see if there are any bugs hiding, shining the torch as you go. You might also find skins and eggs here. Check every nook and cranny on the mattress, as there are likely a number of places the bugs can hide. You can use your old card to chase them out.
When you’ve done one side of the mattress, you can flip it to check the other side. As you do this, check the bed frame and slats to see if there are any signs there. Some bed bugs may move around as you move the mattress too so keep an eye out. If the bed is against the wall, you can then move it away and check the wall behind it. There may be fleeing bugs here as you move also, so be on the look out. Don’t forget to check the headboard either, especially one with patterns where the bugs may like to nestle. It’s a good idea to check beds when you’re staying in hotels/hostels too. Keep your luggage out of the way as you do this, or they’ll hop on for a free ride!
Checking Other Types of Furniture
Checking your other furniture items is important, as bed bugs are not just confined to the bed. Use your credit card and flashlight. A white piece of paper may help you to see bugs, eggs, and other things better if you still can’t tell. Check cribs, pillows, sofa beds, chairs, anything you have where bed bugs may be hiding.
In fact, bed bugs can even be found on nightstands and bedside tables. Check them thoroughly too, pulling them away from the wall and pulling out drawers. To check drawers properly, use a white sheet on the floor and shake out the drawers over it. Make sure you take out clothes and other places the bugs can hide too. The seams of your heavy clothing should even be inspected, as bugs can hide under collars and places like that. You may get rid of bed bugs in your home, only to then carry them around with your clothes! Use your flashlight in your wardrobe and other dark places to help. If you have children’s toys, make sure you check them carefully. Even pet beds should be combed over. You can’t be too careful, so make sure nothing goes unchecked in your home.
The folds of curtains are good places for bugs to hide, as well as rugs and carpets.
Bed bugs can even be found on objects. Make sure you check things like lamps, computers, clocks, and anything else you can think of. Although you’re more likely to find bed bugs in the bed and similar areas, they can be found here in some cases.
Don’t Cut Corners
If you suspect bed bugs, don’t cut corners on the hunt for them. This means making sure you even check behind picture frames and mirrors, as well as loose wallpaper. Some people even like to carefully take their light switches off the wall and check behind them. Other outlets, baseboards, and moldings should be carefully checked too. You don’t necessarily need to take moldings and things off the wall; you can use your credit card to check them.
Another good place to check is the laundry room, as well as any laundry baskets you may have. Bugs may even reside under large appliances, like your refrigerator. You can pretty much find bed bugs anywhere humans sit, lie down, or spend time in general. This is why they can be found in places like taxis and cinemas.
Interception Devices and Active Monitors
If you’re not finding bed bugs via visual methods, it could be time to invest in an interception device or an active monitor. These are good tools for those who have low level infestations. They are eco-friendly, and can be placed underneath your bed or adjacent to it. As bed bugs like to move around from place to place, the interception devices can catch them when they try to set up camp elsewhere. You should ideally keep a device in place for 2-4 weeks, checking every few days to see if there are any bugs. Interception devices are cheaper than active monitors, that use attractants to detect bed bugs. Using an interception device is likely to be most effective.
Mattress and Box Spring Encasements
If you’re worried about bed bugs, mattress and box spring encasements are more great tools you can consider. Encasements will not only detect the bed bugs, they’ll even protect your bed. This is why they are more expensive than interception devices.
Combinations of Methods
Some people like to use both inception devices and encasements for effective early detection of an infestation. Monitoring for activity over a period of time is the best way to identify extremely low level infestations, as they can be very hard to detect. However, no one method is going to be 100% effective at detecting an infestation. Using a combination of methods is likely to be way more effective and help you to eliminate the problem quicker.
Contacting a Professional
If you’re still struggling to be sure, a qualified professional is going to know exactly where to look and what to look for. They are far more likely to detect a low level infestation easily and quickly than somebody with no training.