Bed bugs are a nasty and uncomfortable problem. Signs and symptoms of bed bugs can be hard to detect at first, and even trickier to treat. To the untrained eye, bed bug bites can be confused with those of other biting insects.
Here are nine easy signs help you know if you have a bed bug problem.
RED, ITCHY BITES
People don't often consider bed bugs until they've left their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. Bed bugs can also leave their bites in straight rows and, while they don't spread diseases to humans, their bites are quite irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.
Bed bugs are most often found in the bed, where humans spend most of their nights. It makes logical sense for bed bugs to be most active at night while humans are in bed with them. Should you find yourself developing those itchy welts while laying in bed sleeping (or trying to sleep), it's likely bed bugs are the problem.
MARKED ARMS AND SHOULDERS
Bed bugs tend to feed on exposed skin such as that on your arms and shoulders, which you may tend to leave uncovered while sleeping. This is different from, say, fleas and chiggers, which tend to bite around the ankles.
A BUGGY BED
The first sign of a bed bug problem is obvious: the bed. After bed bugs feed on humans, they'll leave behind blood stains resembling small rust spots. These will usually be found near the corners and edges of the bed. Bed bugs also shed their skin, or molt, several times as they mature, so you may find their oval brown exoskeletons during your search.
THE NOSE HAS IT
A strong, unpleasant, musty odor like that of a wet towel is another common bed bug symptom. Bed bugs release pheromones, and when in large numbers, the smell can be quite strong. Should you find your bedroom smelling like a dirty locker room, you may want to perform an inspection.
Remember, bed bugs aren't confined to your home. They can be found wherever you sleep, including hotel rooms.
Here are some quick inspection tips to help you avoid a serious problem, whether on the road or at home:
INSPECT THE BED
Strip the mattress and box spring and thoroughly inspect the corners and seams. Use a magnifying glass and a flashlight. You're looking for rust-colored, reddish-brown blood stains and/or small brown ovals (molted bed bug skin).
INSPECT THE ROOM
After searching the bed, it's time to move to the rest of the room. Check anything upholstered, including chairs, couches, curtains and the edges of the carpet. Look in and behind dressers, underneath the bed and if possible, behind the headboard. Always be on the lookout for the signature reddish-brown spots.
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OPEN THE CLOSET
Bed bugs can also cling to clothing, which is how they can travel and spread so adeptly. Be sure to look in your closets and check your clothing thoroughly. Bed bugs on clothes means bed bugs on humans.
USE YOUR NOSE
As stated above, one way detect bed bugs is their smell. The scent of their pheromones can be quite strong. It's often described as a musty odor.
Since it's possible for people to go for long periods without being aware they have a bed bug infestation, knowing the key bed bug symptoms and how to find these pests will go a long way in combating them.