11 EARLY SIGNS OF BED BUGS YOU SHOULD NOT IGNORE

By Perry Benani

Are you concerned about bed bugs in your home? We will explain the 11 early signs of bed bugs that you should look out for in this article.

Even though bed bugs are generally not dangerous and don’t carry diseases, they can still affect your health negatively. In some cases, bed bug bites can cause allergic reactions. 

Pests such as bed bugs feed on human blood and hide in household furnishings, within mattresses, and alike. 

Bed bug bites on the skin are not a reliable indicator of an infestation. It’s possible to confuse bed bug bites with bites from other insects (like mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (like eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. In addition, bed bug bites may not affect some people at all.

An infestation of bed bugs often is undetected at the beginning as there are few bugs or eggs to be found. Furthermore, they are nocturnal pests, feeding mainly at night and staying hidden during the day. They do, however, leave behind evidence of their presence.

The consequence is that spotting bed bug infestations at their earliest stages can be easy to miss unless you know strictly what to look for and where to look!

If you suspect a bed bug infestation, you should discover it as early as possible, before it becomes established or spreads. While treating a minor infestation is inconvenient, it is far less costly and more effortless than treating the same infestation when it becomes widespread.

Low-level infestations, however, are also a lot more challenging to find and identify correctly. Bed bugs can be mistaken for other insects, such as carpet beetles. It gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house or hitch a ride to another place to start a new infestation when you misidentify a bed bug infestation. 

Adult Bed Bugs That Are Active

This one is obvious, and most important early signs of bed bugs. If you spot an adult bed bug, there are probably more of them. But it is very easy to confuse other bugs with bed bugs. There are many pests similar to bed bugs in different life cycle stages.

bed bug pictures

Just check out this article that details bugs that look like bed bugs.

The pictures below will help you identify bed bugs in different places at your home.

Eggs Of Bed Bugs

It is difficult for the naked eye to see bed bug eggs because they are small, white, or semi-translucent in color. Therefore, it may be necessary to use a magnifying glass or similar tool to recognize eggs.

This is probably second mots important early signs of bed bugs and possible infestation.

Their appearance is similar to uncooked white rice, and they usually occur in clusters. Bed bugs are likely to be active if you see shaded eggshells, and an infestation will more than likely happen.

bed bug eggs

In general, bed bugs lay eggs in the same places where adults hide during the day. So consider checking the most common areas that get invaded in homes and businesses. 

  • The area around your bed
  • Check under and inside the mattress as well
  • You can also check the outline of your bed
  • Bags and gear inside
  • Household appliances, electrical switches, and light switches
  • Racks and furniture in the room
  • Behind the backdrop
  • Behind the photos
  • Breaks and cracks in the whole property
  • In the floor coverings

WHERE DO BED BUGS LAY THEIR EGGS?

In general, they hide in cracks and breaks near people to easily access them when they emerge. Thus, bedding and headboard breaks are well-known places for them.

HOW OFTEN DO BED BUGS LAY EGGS?

Bed bugs typically lay six eggs every two months. Although they lay eggs all year round, the danger of fostering an infestation is always present as they breed and lay eggs continuously. Only one pregnant female bed bug is all it takes to start an infestation. So, it is advisable to identify irritations early and deal with them promptly, resulting in effective bed bug control.

Bed Bug Shell Casings

Shells are the hard external coverings of bed bugs; bed bugs’ exoskeletons are shed periodically until they reach adulthood. As bed bugs grow, they shed their skin. Due to the rigid nature of their shell, they must regularly take it off and replace it with one that fits properly.

Once an insect has reached its maximum size, it will not shed as it has entered its adult stage. Shells are beige or dark reddish-brown. Over time, the outer shells accumulated in the bed bug’s infestation area or hiding place. These areas include mattress folds, baseboards, and furniture corners.

When do bed bugs shed their skins? 

Each stage of a bed bug’s life cycle ends with them shedding their shell. This means the bed bug female feeds before laying her eggs, which is the first sign of an infestation. Then, after about two weeks, the eggs hatch. Finally, upon reaching adulthood, bedbugs stop shedding. 

bed bug shell casings

What Do Shells and Casings Look Like? 

A bed bug nymph’s skin is tiny, white, and easily missed. The reason for this is that nymphs are much smaller than adults. During feeding and shedding, bedbugs turn brown. 

How big are they? 

Eggshells of bed bugs measure about 1 mm (0.4 inches), the same size as their eggs. They are pale yellow. You need to act fast if you find a fresh egg that indicates an infestation. 

Do you know where the shells are? 

Shells are most often found in hiding spots where you find bed bugs. There are several types of holes in beds: Mattress hems, Bed boxes (frames, headboards, cracks, etc.), Carpets, Drill holes, Skirting boards/spaces, Wooden plank spaces, Sockets Drawers, cupboards, Wallpaper hems, Wardrobes Nightstands.

What Makes You Think It’s Bed Bugs? 

They’re bed bug shells if they’re beige or dark reddish-brown. The outer shells can pile up over time. When they’re adults, they look like apple seeds. They get swollen and dark brown after a good bloody meal. 

Fecal Stains

Fecal matter, also known as bed bug droppings, is left behind by bed bugs. I find that bed bug droppings are one of the most common pieces of evidence when I conduct my bed bug inspection. 

How Does Bed Bug Fecal Matter Look Like? 

They look like black ink stains. Next, take a wet q-tip and try smearing it on your mattress, bed frame, or box spring if you find it there. It may be bed bug fecal matter if the dot spreads. Your next best move is to search for live bugs in the area. 

Find out how to identify bed bug droppings.

Does the stain have a dark black color? In this case, what you see probably isn’t bed bug feces. They expel partially digested blood in their poop, which becomes black as excreted. A light rusty color is not a sign of bed bugs. The size of their feces is about 1mm. 

bede bug fecal stains

When bed bugs feed, they usually leave their droppings nearby. So unless you have a lot of bed bugs roaming your apartment, you will not find bed bug droppings in the kitchen away from the bed. In general, bed bugs eat, sleep, poop, and have sex around their hosts. 

The feces will be circular if they do not bleed into the fabric. When it soaks into fabric, it leaves the same crosshair pattern on the side it soaks into. When you touch a Sharpie marker to fabric, it looks the same.

When you wipe your spot with a wet cloth or Q-tip, does it smear? Furthermore, bed bug droppings don’t fall off. In other words, they are liquid black poop. Therefore, it is NOT possible to pick up the bed bug droppings and put them in a bag.

Bed Bug Bites

You will not notice bed bugs biting you. During the bite, a natural anesthetic is injected into your skin. It takes up to a day for the bites to become visible.

Bite marks from bed bugs resemble mosquitoes, fleas, and other insects. This makes them difficult to detect at first. Several characteristics make bed bug bites unique:

  • Red, itchy bumps
  • Bite-sized clusters of 3 to 5 in a zigzag pattern
  • Sometimes with a dark or red dot at the center
  • the bite may blister
  • Bites are most probably do not appear until morning
  • Your itching and fear of getting more bites can make it difficult for you to sleep

Where do bed bugs bite?

Typically, bed bug bites will appear on areas of the body exposed at night, but that also have nearby blood vessels; those are the areas like the Face, Neck, Arms, Legs, Torso, Hands.

How painful are bed bug bites?

Since bites are not painful and many people will not react, detecting them is much more difficult. Over the next few days, some people will develop itchy red welts. The area can become swollen and develop a small red bump. The welt can last for a few days and is often itchy. During feeding, saliva is injected, causing reactions. When children have been bitten by an extreme infestation, they may suffer from an iron deficiency.

bed bug bites

Some bed bug bites leave no marks, while others can cause small red bumps or rashes. Usually, they don’t appear until a day or two after being bitten. Be careful not to scratch them. The bites of bed bugs are often compared to those of mosquitoes. A bed bug bite’s pattern indicates that it might be bedbug bites.

They often occur in groups of three or four and usually on exposed areas during sleep. Bites from bed bugs do not transmit disease and usually disappear after a few days. However, you should consult your doctor if a rash persists or becomes infected.

Can bedbug bites cause diseases?

The good news is that bed bugs cannot transmit diseases, and their bites don’t hurt. Nevertheless, bites can still be very distressing. In some cases, bites become sore and itchy, causing a painful skin rash and possible secondary infection.

People’s bodies react differently to bed bug bites. Some experience no reaction, while others experience minor swelling and itching and even develop a rash.  

Musty Smells

A musty odor with no apparent cause.

Some of the early signs of bed bugs can also be detected by your sense of smell. As with most insects, bed bugs instinctively emit an alarm pheromone when startled.

Bed bugs produce that pheromone whenever they are exposed to light or otherwise find their habitat disturbed. Many people compare the smell of bed bugs to raspberry, coriander, cilantro, or almond pheromones. Bed bug infestations may smell like rust, wet towels, and mouldy laundry.

bed bug smell

Sometimes, our sense of smell is the first clue that something is wrong. For example, if you notice a musty smell in your bedroom that doesn’t seem to come from an obvious source — such as dirty laundry — it may be a sign of bed bugs.

In a large bed bug infestation, the odor of their pheromones gets mixed up with the odor of excreta, dead bed bugs, and shed shell cases. As the infestation becomes more severe, the rusty smell becomes more potent.

Compared to other early signs of bed bugs, the odor is usually the least reliable. In the absence of many bed bugs, their scent is too faint for humans to detect. Additionally, most people don’t know the smell of bed bugs – or an infestation – so even if you smell something, you might mistake it for something else.

Bed bugs may start to get out of hand if the smell becomes musty, unpleasant, or overpowering in your home. Similar to rotting wood or mildew, it’s caused by several bugs using their pheromones to communicate with one another. Bed bugs can also contribute to this smell’s unpleasant smell by excreting fecal matter.

Blood Stains

Getting up in the morning to see blood on your mattress is alarming, no matter what the cause may be. It could, however, help you detect a bedbug infestation before it becomes too severe.

Because they survive on the blood of sleeping humans, they often burst into a splash of blood when crushed. While they limit feeding to about five to ten seconds, crushing is a severe risk. 

If you see a cluster of red or pink dots on your sheets, your mattress may be infested with bed bugs. In addition, you need to check your pillowcases and pyjamas for blood spots.

bed bug blood stains

Even if you don’t roll over in your sleep, bed bugs can leave stains on your mattress. Rusty or dark stains are common on mattresses and other furniture where bed bugs tend to congregate. 

Try looking at your walls if you can’t find any of these stains on your clothes, sheets, or mattress. Unfortunately, there can be many of them, either on the paint of your wall or underneath your wallpaper.

What Are The Effects Of Bed Bugs On Sleep?

You will not notice bed bugs biting you. During the bite, a natural anesthetic is injected into your skin. It takes up to a day for the bites to become visible.

They generally bite between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Their behavior is a product of evolution. Reasons include:

Sunlight makes them uncomfortable. The darkest hours of the day are when they are at their most comfortable

bed bug sleep problems

You are most likely in stages three and four of the sleep cycle at this point. You will wake up early in the sleep cycle due to external stimuli. At later stages, feelings and noises won’t wake you up.

You will find it dark when you wake up since it is so late. Bed bugs prefer darkness since they can’t be seen.

Because of this, they don’t disturb your sleep. It doesn’t hurt or feels sharp when a bed bug bites you, even if you’re awake. When you’re sleeping deeply, your body does not send a tiny signal to your brain. As a result, it won’t wake you.

Nymph Presence

Bed bugs have a life cycle. In the photograph below, you can see the life cycle of a bed bug. It will go through the following stages throughout a bed bug’s life.

bed bug life cycle
  • Eggs (1mm).
  • 1. stage nymph (1.5 mm).
  • 2. stage nymph (2 mm).
  • 3. stage nymph (2.5 mm).
  • 4. stage nymph (3 mm).
  • 5. stage nymph (4.5 mm).
  • Unfed adult female.
  • Unfed adult male.

And if you find any of the nymphs around the areas we already discussed, that’s another sign of infestation in addition to spotting adult bed bugs.

Changes In Pet Behavior

Although bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood, pet blood is no different. They can bite your pets as well.

And when they do, you may find your pet disturbed, irritated, scratchy, or restless. When bed bugs bite your pet, it doesn’t feel it in the first place, but it feels the scratch afterward, just like we humans do.

So, a change in your pet’s behavior can also be a sign of bed bug presence.

Brown Spots

If you observe dark or rust-colored spots on your bed sheets, mattress, clothing, or walls, you may have a bed bug infestation. 

Those spots could be bed bug feces or exoskeletons from bed bug moulted skin.

If you observe clusters of brown spots on any part of your furniture (so our bed is not the only place bed bugs cause such areas), you should conduct a thorough search to see if any active bed bugs are present. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Can you catch a bed bug infestation early?

    Yes, check early signs as explained above and take necessary measures to control a possible infestation

  • How long does it take to notice an infestation of bed bugs

    The nymphs can reach adulthood in 21 days, but realistically takes around five weeks to reach maturity; this is when you may observe the infestation start to show.

  • How do you stop a bed bug infestation before it starts

    Check for early signs of an infestation in this article

  • At what stage do bed bugs lay eggs

    After four to five weeks, newly-hatched bed bugs are old enough to start laying eggs. it can begin to grow exponentially after the infestation reaches this point

  • Do bed bugs go away on their own

    No, they do not go away without your intervention because they can live without food (your blood) for months

  • Is it possible to only have a few bed bugs?

    Yes, there may be only a few at the beginning stages of infestation.

  • What can be mistaken for bed bug bites

  • Can you sleep on a bed with bed bugs?

    Well, you can; you do not feel their bites when they do.

  • Can you see bed bugs with the naked eye?

    Yes, an adult bed bug is around 5-6 mm; they are visible to the naked eye, grown bed bugs are usually brown, and their color ranges from red to dark brown when fed with blood.

  • What is the leading cause of bed bugs?

    They may come from other infested places or used furniture. You may carry them to your home in purses, backpacks, luggage, or other items; they can also move between rooms.

In conclusion, please do not ignore those early signs of bed bugs to avoid a possible infestation. When you observe any of the above symptoms, take immediate action before the problem worsens.

Please let me know if you have any questions; I am ready to help.

And, thank you for reading this far.

All the best.

Perry Benani

Pest Control Professional