Updated: Jun 14
When it comes to bed bugs, detecting them early is the name of the game! The longer an infestation is left to flourish, the harder and more expensive it is to eradicate it. But how do you know if you have bed bugs, so you can address the problem as soon as possible? The answer is to learn the early signs.
Many people think that finding bites on their arms, hands and legs is the first sign. They are right. It is indeed an early sign. However, it’s not that simple. Experts know that bites alone are not enough to diagnose a bed bug problem. The reason is that different people react very differently to bed bug bites, and there’s no absolute way to distinguish what looks like bed bug bites from other insect bites. For that matter, a surprising 30% of people exhibit no skin reaction at all to bed bug bites. This is why it’s key to know both early signs of bed bugs so that you can more accurately identify the problem - as early as possible.
As we said, finding bug bites on your arms, hands and legs can indeed be one of the first signs of bed bugs. Just be sure they are bed bug bits and not bites from other bugs. Since bed bugs are nocturnal insects that would rather feed on our blood while we sleep, their bites usually appear on skin that is exposed during the night.
It helps to know what bed bug bites look like. Now, while everyone reacts differently, the most common indication of bed bug bites is red, itchy bumps found in small clusters. This is known as the “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” pattern - small clusters or lines of three bites. However, bed bug bites can appear as single bites or in very random patterns.
If you should wake up one morning with bed bug bites, there is no need to be concerned for your physical health. These bites are generally not dangerous and don’t transmit any known diseases. Even so, there are some people that may experience an allergic reaction to the chemical makeup in the saliva of bed bugs. Should you suffer severe itchiness, painful swelling, blisters, fever, or flu-like symptoms after seeing bites, get professional medical attention.
Blood Stains on Your Sheets
The other early sign that you might have bed bugs is bloodstains on your sheets. Those bites you are finding are a result of bed bugs feeding at night while you sleep. There are two reason you are seeing the stains. One is that bed bugs emit an anti-coagulating chemical as they bite. So, after you’ve been bitten you may bleed a bit, and any blood that hasn’t yet dried on your skin can be transferred to your sheets. The other source of the stains is from you moving during the night. As you move or roll over, you can crush a bug accidentally. If the bug is engorged, the pressure can squeeze some blood from the bug and on to your sheets.
Bites on your body, or stains on your sheets are the only early signs of bed bugs. There are many other signs, but they tend to appear once the infestation has established itself and grown. Some of the later signs include:
What To Do If You Find Bed Bugs
If you are fortunate enough to detect bed bugs early on, the first things you’ll want to do is call a professional to fully irradicate the infestation. In the mean time you can try and locate the source of the problem. First strip your bed of all sheets and mattress cover and place them in plastic containers or bags. Doing this keeps bugs that may be hiding in your sheets from spreading. Launder all fabrics on high heat. It’s one of the most effective treatments you can do before the professionals arrive. Check all clutter within 5 feet of your bed for signs of bed bugs. If there are no signs, still remove the clutter.
We can’t stress enough that to fully remove bed bugs from your home or apartment, you should contact your local pest control company and let a professional handle it. There are things you can do to kill some of the bed bugs, but even one left behind will start the whole problem up again.