How Can You Tell if You Have Bed Bugs? 10 Major Warning Signs

Bed bugs used to be nearly eradicated in North America. Yet, with increasing travel and the decline in the widespread use of toxic insecticides, bed bug infestations are on the rise again.

If you’ve discovered critters crawling on your mattress, you may wonder: how can you tell if you have bed bugs versus an infestation of another bug? Bed bugs are wingless with flat, oval bodies. Their brown color changes after feeding to a reddish hue.

Often, you don’t need to actually see a bed bug to know you’re dealing with one. That’s why we’ve created this guide to the nine signs and symptoms of a bed bug problem.

Ready to find out if you have an infestation and how to get rid of bed bugs once and for all? Then you better keep reading because this one’s for you!

How Can You Tell if You Have Bed Bugs?

The most obvious sign of bed bugs is, of course, the presence of bed bugs themselves. Bed bugs live in hives and tend to stick close to their food source AKA you. That’s why the first place to search is your mattress.

Remove the sheets and use a flashlight to look for movement. Many people report finding bed bugs around the corners of the mattress. But bed bugs are also known to hide on headboards (especially fabric ones), on paintings, and in curtains.

If your mattress and the surrounding areas look clean, you may be bed-bug free. Yet, if you’re seeing one of the following signs and symptoms of bed bugs, it’s probably time to call the exterminator. 

1. Bed Bug Bites

Woke up this morning with unexplained red itchy spots on your skin? That could be a sign you have bed bugs. After all, these insects survive on human blood.

Bed bug bites are easily distinguishable from other types of insect bites by its linear bite pattern. But keep in mind that not everyone reacts the same to bed bug bites. Some people may not experience red, itchy bumps after getting bitten.

2. You’ve Recently Traveled

The good thing about bed bugs is they don’t arise spontaneously. Usually, people pick up bed bugs after traveling. Motels and hotels are notorious for harboring bed bugs, even if you stay in the nicest place around.

What should you do if you find bed bugs during your next trip? Inspect the mattress and the room for bed bugs before getting cozy.

If you do find evidence of an infestation, your luggage and clothing could be compromised. Sanitize your luggage or, better yet, discard it completely. Wash clothing in hot water to avoid carrying bed bugs home with you.

3. Bed Bug Droppings

A surefire sign of bed bugs is a rusty colored spot on your mattress. Bed bugs excrete their nightly buffet in the form of fecal droppings. You’ll recognize bed bug droppings from other stains because these spots have a foul smell and smear when touched.

Droppings tend to cluster wherever the bed bugs are living. That means you could also find bed bug droppings on walls, under wallpaper, or on furniture near your bed.

4. You Know Someone Who Has Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are clever little pests. They’ll hitch a ride on your clothing after staying at a friend’s or family member’s home.

Think your friends and family are too clean to have bed bugs? Think again because, unlike some insects, these little pests thrive in even the cleanest of places.

5. Bed Bug Exoskeletons

Like most insects, bed bugs have exoskeletons. They shed these shells as they grow, which may multiple times over the course of a bed bug’s lifetime. You may actually mistake the exoskeleton for a live bug — it looks just like one.

6. You Smell Something Musty

Does your house smell musty and you can’t figure out why? It could be the smell of a large nest of bed bugs.

Bed bugs and their exoskeletons release a substance called alarm pheromones when they’re afraid. This substance won’t stain your mattress, but it will stink up the room. The bigger the bed bug infestation, the stronger the smell gets.

7. Bed Bug Eggs

Bed bugs don’t just leave droppings and exoskeletons on your mattress. When they’ve been around long enough, bed bugs may also start to lay eggs. These eggs are white in color and tend to cluster in places like the dimples of your mattress.

8. You Wake up With Bloodstained Sheets

Since bed bugs feed on human blood, smashing one of these critters during the night may leave behind a spot of blood. Look for squashed bed bugs on your sheets, pajamas, and even your skin for a no-brainer sign that you’ve got a bed bug problem.

9. Bed Bugs in Your Car or on Other Furniture

Mattresses aren’t the only place bed bugs love to cluster. They’ll live anywhere as long as there’s food. This includes other furniture pieces in your home and in your car.

Take careful notice of anything that looks like bed bug eggs on your car. If these eggs hatch (and it only takes 6 to 10 days for that to happen), you’ll have a serious infestation on your hands.

10. You Sleep on a Used Mattress

Used furniture is notorious for harboring bed bugs. In fact, this may be the #1 way these pesky critters get into your house in the first place. Save yourself the trouble and investigate your used furniture and mattresses thoroughly before purchasing.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs for Good

So, how can you tell if you have bed bugs? Look out for bites on your skin, droppings, exoskeletons, eggs, or bloodstains on your bed, and musty smells in your home.

Always investigate the mattress when you’re traveling, avoid buying used furniture, and never take it lightly if your friends or family tell you about their own bed bug infestation.

Looking for a bed bug exterminator near me? Custom Bedbug is here to help. Get a free quote for our bed bug control services today and finally say goodbye to those pesky nuisances!

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