How to tell if you have a bed bug problem

A bed bug infestation can escalate pretty fast. On top of that, bed bug bites hurt, and they leave awful stains on bedsheets. You can get a cluster of itchy spots on your skin which takes about two weeks to heal. If you can’t explain blood stains or have a nasty rash and don’t know why - read more to find out if you have a bed bug infestation on your hands.

Do bloodstains mean a bed bug infestation?

Bed bugs feast on human blood, so the first sign of an infestation are stains on your sheets. When a bed bug bites you, it secretes an anticoagulant, which stops blood from clotting during its meal. Even after the bug finishes sucking your blood - the bite spot might keep bleeding and leave stains on your sheets. Furthermore, the bed bugs’ mouth is called a proboscis, and it looks like a tube. If you notice a trail of blood on your sheets, that’s probably the result of a leak from the bed bug’s proboscis after it bit you. You can follow the trail to try and find where your bed bugs hide.

Dark or rusty spots on sheets, mattresses, bedclothes, and walls

Bed bug excrements aren’t solid - they are soft, resembling toothpaste. The droppings are usually dark red while fresh, but as time passes and the waste dries out, it slowly turns to a darker brown colour. Bed bug faeces look round and flat, resembling spilt ink. You can usually find them close to their hiding place around the corners of your mattress. A high concentration of stains around the same corner indicates you have a rather severe bed bug infestation.

Bed bug eggshells or shed skins

It takes about a week for a bed bug to hatch in your bedroom. If you notice any eggshells or shed skins, then there’s definitely something sinister going on. A bed bug sheds its skin five times during its growth process. If you ignore a bed bug infestation, you can suffer a lot of different problems like skin rashes or, in rare cases, even severe blood anaemia. Don’t hesitate to call a professional if the situation looks terrible.

Musty bed bug smell

The bed bugs’ scent glands produce a strong, musty odour that kind of resembles coriander. If you sense that your mattress smells like old mouldy shoes - you probably have a large infestation since it takes a lot of bugs for a human to detect the smell. Check your mattress corners and the underside of your bed to see if you can find where their nest is.

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Common myths and facts about bed bugs

    • Bed bugs only show up at night
Not true - Bed bugs might be more active at night, but they can show up and bite you at any time of the day.
    • Bite marks mean bed bugs
Not true - There are many other insects whose bites can leave behind marks that look like a bed bug bite.
    • Bed bugs stay away from clean homes
Not true - Anyone can get bed bugs. They feed on blood, not clutter. Cleaning up your house can help prevent an infestation, but it’s not the only factor in treating bed bug problems.
    • Bed bugs do not cause or spread diseases
True - Scientists have yet to prove that bed bugs are the cause or carrier of diseases that affect humans. However, it is possible to develop a secondary skin infection if you scratch a bed bug bite too much.
    • Bed bugs can live for months without feeding
True - Bed bugs can survive without sucking on blood for over a year if the ambient temperature is right.
    • Bed bugs can jump on your bed
False - Everything bed bugs can do is crawl. They cannot jump or fly over your bed, and they have difficulties climbing smooth surfaces like plastic.

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