Identifying Bed Bugs

It is not very common to see bed bugs, even in an infested room.  Bed bugs are nocturnal and will find a dark hiding spot within close proximity to their blood meal.  However, when changing sheets, performing an inspection of a bedroom or mattress and box spring and surrounding area you may come across one and be able to positively identify it as a bed bug.

Adult Bed bugs are:

  • Visible to the eye but very small, about ¼” in length
  • Have six legs
  • Flat bodies if they have gone without a blood meal for awhile
  • Engorged bodies if they have had a recent blood meal
  • Red to brown in color, depending upon their last blood meal

You may also notice:

  • Sticky, white eggs approximately 1mm long, comparable to a sesame seed
  • Young bed bugs, also known as nymphs, which have no color to them, comparable to an apple seed
  • Empty bed bug shells (also known as casings)

Signs of an Infestation

Identifying a bed bug infestation early on and acting on it makes a big difference when it comes to controlling bed bugs.  Be aware of the following signs that may tip you off to an infestation:

  • If anyone in the house is suffering from red, itchy, unexplained rashes it could be bed bugs.  Keep in mind that only about half of the people will have such a reaction from a bite.  Therefore, two people could both be sleeping in the same bed, both be bitten by bed bugs but only one have a reaction or rash.
  • You may notice bug casings which are bed bug shells, white, sticky bed bug eggs, blood stains on the bedding or crushed bugs and blood stains in and around the mattress area.  Blood stains are often said to look like sprinkled pepper on a mattress or sheet.
  • Heavy infestations may give the room a sweet smell.
  • Note that the signs above may appear in couches, chairs, other sleeping areas of the home and even any soft furnishings in the home.

Protect Yourself

Bed bugs are becoming more and more common and can be easily picked up on an overnight stay, in a movie theater, cab or even a friend’s home.  Educating yourself and those in your home on how to avoid bed bugs, recognize an infestation and take action early will reduce your risk of having to deal with the expensive, inconvenience and mental anguish that a bed bug infestation can cause.  Catchmaster recommends the following 3-Steps to protect your family and property from bed bugs:

PREVENT             Learn how to avoid bringing bedbugs home

INSPECT              Learn where to look and how to determine if you have bedbugs

DETECT                Use BBEDS™ monitors to assist in detecting bedbugs as early as                                     possible to avoid a major infestation

Bed Bug Detection

Now that you are well-educated on what bedbugs look like and have an inspection checklist on hand, let’s talk about how to detect bedbugs early to prevent a full-blown infestation.

Note that detecting a small bedbug infestation is very difficult but finding an infestation while it is still small can make a huge difference in treatment.  Even a trained professional can have a hard time spotting a small bedbug infestation, therefore, we strongly recommend you utilize a monitor to uncover bedbug infestations early.

BBEDS™ monitors (Bedbug Early Detection System) are a part of a regular inspection plan to dramatically increase the probability of bedbug detection.  The device utilizes what we know about bedbug biology – where they like to hide, what kind of materials they favor – to create a bedbug “safe haven.”  Simply place BBEDS™ monitors in key areas around your bedroom or sleeping area and check regularly.


Bed Bug Prevention

Bedbugs are excellent hitchhikers able to latch onto our clothing, luggage, furniture and other items.  We unknowingly bring them into our home and, if left undetected, they will grow into a serious infestation.  Here are some of the most common ways that bedbugs are brought into our homes:

Traveling – Bedbugs are easily introduced into hotel rooms making this one place you should be extra vigilant.  These steps will help you to avoid picking up bed bugs on your next trip:

  • Treat your luggage before you travel.  Consider our luggage spray (link to store) that prevents bed bugs from latching onto your things.
  • Before moving into a hotel room, do a visual inspection of the room.  See our Do-It-Yourself Bed Bug Inspection Checklist (link to downloadable checklist) for tips.
  • Store your luggage on a hard surface away from the bed in the room.  Inspect and then use a luggage rack, a desk or dresser.  If you are especially concerned, consider storing your luggage in the bathtub.
  • Upon returning home, wash and dry all of your clothing on the hottest setting; vacuum your luggage as an extra precaution; do not return your luggage to your room or store it there, keep it in the garage or area away from the bedroom.

Used Furniture – Do not bring used furniture into the home. If you must, be sure you inspect it carefully for bed bugs.  NEVER pick up a used mattress, there is a good chance someone disposed of it due to a bedbug infestation.

Seal Cracks & Crevices – If you live in a multi-unit building you can become infested from a neighbor with bedbugs.  Bedbugs can slip through a crack as thin as a credit card.  Seal all cracks and crevices around your home with caulk to reduce your chance of becoming infested by a neighboring unit.

Avoid Known Infestations – Check for bedbug infested hotels/motels on or  Also, be aware of known infestations in movie theatres and office buildings.  If you have been exposed to bedbugs wash and dry your clothing and any bags or belongings you had with you on the hottest setting allowable for the material to kill bedbugs and their eggs.

How To Monitor

In a typical room, place monitors in and around key areas of the room.  We recommend that you use 1-3 BBEDS™ monitors in each of the following areas of a room which are some of the most common bedbug hiding areas.  Note, for maximum effectiveness you must replace the monitors every 1-3 months.

  1. Headboards – Place monitors tightly along the back edges and corners.  Being one of the least disturbed areas in a bedroom, it is a prime hiding spot – in close proximity to their feeding site.
  2. Between Mattress and Box Spring – Position monitors at the four corners of the bed, between the mattress and box spring.
  3. Openings in the Walls – This is particularly important if you are living in a multi-unit housing environment.  Vents, ducts, electrical sockets, wall switches, plumbing openings, light fixtures and any opening between units are often the first places that bedbugs will use to enter from a neighboring unit.
  4. Wall Hangings – Picture frames, artwork, mirrors and other decorations are often overlooked but prime bedbug hiding places.  Hide monitors along the back edges to detect activity.
  5. Upholstered Furniture – Any soft furnishing in the room is at risk to be infested. Place monitors between cushions, along the backside of furniture and around the legs.
  6. Closets – This is especially important if you store your luggage in the closet.  Hitchhiking bedbugs will escape contaminated luggage into the closet area, place monitors accordingly.
  7. Nightstands – A popular bedbug hiding spot, place monitors under, behind and on the back of nightstands.
  8. Bed Frames/Posts – Consider positioning monitors around the bottom side of the legs of the bed.  This would prevent them from climbing up to the bed.

Inspection Checklist

Bedbug researchers and experts all agree that the single most effective way to manage and minimize the bedbug epidemic is to implement effective inspection practices that can help identify a bedbug problem as early as possible and deal with it before it becomes a major infestation.

Homeowner’s Do-It-Yourself Bed Bug Inspection Checklist

We put together this comprehensive checklist so you can perform your very own Bed Bug Inspection.  We give you all the secrets of the pros to finding bed bug hiding spots in your bedroom.   Before you embark on your inspection take some time to learn more about bed bugs.  Visit the Resource Library for sections on Identifying Bed Bugs and Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation.  Now, grab a good flashlight and let’s get started.

Signs of an infestation will sometimes just be evidence that bed bugs were present in the room.  You may not see actual bed bugs, you are also looking for evidence that they are in the room.  Look for:

  • Shed skins of the bugs which may be found within the folds of the mattress, the bedding or other areas in the room.
  • Their eggs, which are very small, white in color and sticky.
  • Small blood stains on the bedding or mattress which is often described as looking like sprinkled pepper.
  • Crushed bed bugs and blood stains in and around the bed.

Places to Inspect:

  1. Begin with the bedding.  Carefully remove each layer of bedding looking for evidence of bed bugs, crushed bugs, blood stains or eggs.  If anything is discovered carefully place all of the bedding into a large trash bag and tie it very tight.  You do not want to drag bedding through your home dropping bed bugs throughout the space, this will spread your infestation.  Next wash and dry your bedding on the highest temperatures possible to kill the bed bugs, their eggs, larvae and nymphs.
  2. Inspect the bare mattress on both sides.  Look inside of the folds for bed bugs, casings or eggs.  Examine the sleeping area for blood stains.
  3. Take special care to examine the box spring, especially the area underneath.  Bed bugs love to hide in the underside of the box spring.
  4. You next want to check around the headboard and footboard.  Remove each from the bed as well as the wall if it is attached. Inspect each and every crack and crevice on both sides of the board with a flashlight.  Don’t miss those screwheads that are popular bed bug hiding spots.
  5. Look behind framed art, mirrors and any other décor that may be hanging on the walls.  Bed bugs love to hide in close proximity to their host (you or your pet).
  6. Closely examine the furniture in your bedroom including all sides of a nightstand, the drawers and the back side and underneath the furniture.
  7. Look around the window, window frame but especially any window treatments in the room.
  8. Thoroughly search closets.  Look thoroughly in cracks and crevices and around trim.
  9. Inspect any upholstered items in the room closely.  Bed bugs prefer “soft furnishings” like upholstered chairs, bedding, mattresses and box springs, drapery, etc.

When Bed Bugs Are Found

If you positively identify a bedbug in your home take the following steps to minimize the risk of them spreading:

  1. Try to uncover how the infestation started:  an infested piece of luggage, possibly from a neighboring unit?  Isolate any infested materials in plastic bags and seal it tightly.  Wash and dry on the hottest possible setting any clothing, bedding, etc. that may have been infested.  If you believe it is from a neighboring unit seal any cracks and crevices you can find to minimize more bugs from entering.
  2. Thoroughly vacuum the entire area.  Turn furniture over for a thorough treatment and remember to use a good attachment to get into the cracks and crevices where bed bugs are most likely to hide.
  3. Wrap and discard the vacuum bag outside of your home or building.
  4. Do not move to another room in the home to avoid them!  Bedbugs will follow, increasing the infestation area in your home.
  5. We highly recommend contacting a Pest Management Professional at the first sign of an infestation.

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