Whether you conduct a bed bug inspection yourself or have a professional do it is a lot of work. Bed bugs are just millimeters in size and their flat shape makes it easy for them to hide and crawl through tight spaces. Many people think they only hide in mattresses. That is simply not true although that’s the most convenient place because the bugs are close to their sleeping hosts. The truth is, bed bugs can be anywhere.
What to Look For
Knowing the signs of bed bugs is important. Even if you notice reddish swelling on your skin, that is not definitive proof you have an infestation. Bed bug bites look a lot like bites of other insects. You may not notice any redness or swelling at all. It is physical signs of their presence that prove these crawling, blood-sucking insects are present.
Signs bed bugs have visited your home include:
- Visual evidence of live bed bugs, whether alone or just a few, or if they’re congregating in large numbers within hiding places.
- Small dark spots that might be smeared like marker ink. Bed bug excrement tends to appear like this on fabric.
- Reddish or rusty stains of blood, caused by crushed bed bugs.
- One millimeter sized eggs, eggshells, and pale yellow skins shed by young nymphs as they grow.
- The EPA has more detailed insight into finding bed bugs and also images of their presence.
Common Hiding Places
Once they get into your home, bed bugs can hide just about anywhere. The width of a credit card, it’s easy for them to squeeze through tight openings or just about any crack. They have infiltrated homes and businesses, even multi-family buildings, schools, hospitals, clothing stores, and five-star hotels.
According to the National Pest Management Association, 95% of pest control companies in 2015 treated infestations in homes, while 75% treated hotels/motels for problems. Nursing homes, office buildings, and college dorms were also common treatment locations. Hospitals and transportation such as trains, buses, and cars cannot escape the onslaught of bed bugs either.
If you’re checking for these pests, here are some places to start:
- Beds: Mattresses, headboards, box springs, and bed frames are great hiding places for bed bugs. Plus, these afford them easy access to hosts. They don’t have to travel far at night to feed on blood.
- Furniture: Couches, chairs, and associated cushions have plenty of creases for hiding. Check underneath cushions and within every seam.
- Picture Frames: They may add something to your home décor, and also to a bed bug’s list of secure spots to hide, reproduce, and lay eggs.
- Electrical Outlets: Nope, bed bugs are not afraid of electricity. Outlets, sockets, and plugs have small spaces a bed bug can go unnoticed for a long time.
- Curtains: Curtains have folds and creases where bugs can easily reside. The deepest recesses of the fabric may not be interesting to you, but for a bug just a few millimeters in size, it can mean the world.
- Clothing: This is one of the most common places to hide. Shirts, pants, socks, and more have enough shelter for a tiny bug. Check your shoes as well. There is more than enough living space for these pests to fester and reproduce.
- Walls: Chipped and peeling paint, and even loose wall paper, are places where bed bugs have been found to reside. Also look around in corners or at junction points between walls and ceilings.
- Drawers: The joints of drawers, corners, tracks, and undersides are places most people don’t pay much attention to.
- Screws: Yup, bed bugs have no preference. If the space is small, dark, and hidden like the head of a screw, it doesn’t matter.
- Appliances: Toasters, refrigerators, blenders, washing machines, and other appliance may seem like hostile places. If you’re a bed bug, you’ve managed to find spots that are perfect. Be sure to look within electrical receptacles attached to appliances as well.
Conducting a bed bug inspection is hard work. If you can isolate their presence to a few locations, treating the problem may be more direct and simple. Just don’t leave any hiding spot for granted, no matter how small.
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