bed bugs - detection

After noticing a bed bug, you should:
  • Remove all the clutter from the area
  • Wash any clothing, bedding, rugs etc. and set in the dryer for a maximum of 20 minutes on the highest heat to kill any bed bugs left
  • Vacuum up your room, focussing on the cracks and carpet seams
  • Contact your local pest control professionals to exterminate your home instead of trying to do anything yourself
  • Cover the mattress with plastic and have it stored somewhere for a year
  • Do not let any new resident into the home until it has been completely cleared by the pest control professional
Bed bugs are nocturnal insects, which means they get all their errand running done at night. They typically like to feed between the hours of midnight and 5am. That time frame just happens to coincide with the “witching hours,” a time of day frequently considered to be connected too unholy mischief and devil’s work. But, scientists tend to point out that the late-night time frame of bed bug feeding is more likely because it’s when sleeping people are in their deepest sleep, making a good blood-meal available. Bed bugs prefer to dine in peace and quiet, and without disturbing their slumbering host’s dream time. Not all bed bugs limit their meals to midnight snacks. Bed bugs will eat a blood-meal when a host is available, not just when a host is sleeping. Favorite locations for bed bug infestations, other than beds, are classrooms, movie theatres, and workspaces. What all these locations have in common is they are locations where large groups of people are sitting in one place for extended periods. These locations provide a bed bug ample opportunity to sneak up on a host and feed undetected; due to their anesthetic containing saliva. Basically, these public spaces are a bed bugs ideal one-stop shop emporium! And, if a bed bug is looking for a change of scenery, a slower pace perhaps, they can easily catch a ride home with their new found host! Remember hearing the old saying, “Nite, nite, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”? Well, just like many nursery rhymes of yesteryear, that fun little phrase is also rooted in truth. Bed bugs bite because they feed exclusively on blood-meals from hosts; human blood is their preferred choice for blood-meals. To obtain a blood-meal, they pierce, or “bite”, the host’s skin and withdraw up to three times their body weight in blood by sucking. They have beak-like mouthparts they use to “probe the skin with” and find just the right spot to feed on. The bed bug saliva has anesthetic components, which allows their bites to be painless to a host while enabling blood to flow quickly into the bed bugs abdomen. Just like bad luck, bed bug bites often come in three’s. A common way to identify a bed bug bite from other types of pest bites is that bed bug bites typically leave three linear bite marks after each feeding. And that’s if a person has any reaction to the bed bug bite at all. Orkin, one of Canada’s leading pest control company’s reports, up to 70% of people have zero reaction to bed bug bites when first bitten. So, when red, itchy marks caused by bed bug bites do appear on a person’s skin, the assault likely occurred well before the bite was discovered.

What do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Sometimes, identifying which bug bit you can be confusing since many of bug bites look incredibly similar.

There are however, ways of distinguishing the bed bug bites from other blood suckers.

Bed bug bites look like small, red welts on the skin. They look strikingly similar to mosquito bites and will feel extremely itchy. Depending on the person, reactions vary. Someone’s welts may look larger or itch more. See image below.

You would not notice the bite at first. Some bodies will show an instant reaction while for others it may take some time. If someone is bitten multiple times, it increases the body’s reaction time. The bites will usually be in a pattern, one that will either be in a line or a zigzag shape.

According to popular pest control website Terminix, there are several signs to look out for when in search of bed bugs:

  • Red and itchy welts that are flat and usually a small cluster or zigzag pattern on the skin
  • If you start feeling discomfort or itching while asleep or attempting to sleep, it is likely that bed bugs are the culprit
  • When you start noticing red marks on your arms and shoulders, that is a sure sign that these blood suckers have attacked
  • A bed bug filled bed will consist of blood stains on the sheets that look like rusty brown spots. You may also notice their exoskeleton or smell them
  • There is no denying these annoying pests have a foul odour resembling a wet towel. When there is an infestation, you will be able to smell the pheromones from the group.
  • Do not forget to do a home inspection, especially in your bedroom. Check your mattress, box spring and everything else around your bed.
  • Check your dressers, drawers, and headboard as required for any reddish-brown spots.
  • Do not forget to check your closet. Bed bugs are attracted to clutter, and if your closet is known for piles of clothes and a mess of things then it is likely they have found that spot and nested there
  • Do not underestimate the power of your nose. The scent alone will give it away.
Find an exterminator

Contact your local exterminator who will advise you on next steps to take.

Act fast

Once you know what to do, act fast and be persistent until you get rid of them.

Ask questions

Ask the exterminators, how much is going to cost and how long is the treatment.

Are bed bug bites harmful?

Bed bug bites are not considered harmful. Typically, they are minor irritations on the skin that are red and itchy. How people react to being bitten varies by person. Some have no reaction; they get to remain blissfully unaware they’ve been bitten. Others experience intense itchiness, hives, and swelling that may require medical attention to alleviate their discomfort. And of course, there are a few poor souls that have severe allergic reactions, if bitten immediate medical care must be sought.

Of greater concern to humans is the impact living with bed bugs can have on a person’s mental well-being. Sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and paranoia are all symptoms commonly experienced by people dealing with bed bug infestations. A Canadian study conducted in 2012 at Montreal’s McGill University concluded, “Individuals exposed to bed bug infestations are at risk of experiencing sleep disturbance and of developing symptoms of anxiety and possibly depression.” While that conclusion may sound mild, especially for those who’ve survived living with a newborn, the reality is quite severe. Lack of sleep, coupled with the financial costs of bed bug treatment, and resulting social isolation can all add up to a genuine and measurable loss of a person’s well-being.

Does my dog has bed bug bites?

Signs that your dog is suffering from bed bug bites are similar too flea bites. So much so, that, according to National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA) 2018 Bugs Without Borders Survey 71% of calls made to pest-control specialists regarding a suspected flea infestation, turn out to be a bed bug infestation. Why? Possibly because a common symptom of flea bites is also a common symptom for bed bug bites: itchiness and scratching. If your furry friend is spending more time scratching behind his ear than staring at you with resentment while you eat, that could be a sign you have an unwanted houseguest living with you.

What Not to Do When You Find Bed Bugs

We already discussed what to do when you find bed bugs in your home, but there are some things you shout NOT do when you have a bed bug infestation. Firstly, do not panic. Any problem can be solved, even this one. Bed bugs can be controlled and with the proper inspection, can turn out into the best plan for eliminating them. Do not attempt to kill them using any kind of gardening tools or general pesticides that may be in your garage as those are not meant to treat bed bugs and can be a health risk if used indoors.