How to inspect
Bed bugs are night-biting insects, so you may not see them during a day-time inspection. They are flat and like to hide in small cracks and crevices, out of the light. During your inspection, look for live bed bugs, as well as their cast skins, eggs and fecal spots (see below). In early infestations, you will probably spot their signs before the actual bugs. A bright light and/or a magnifying glass may help you search. Detecting a small bed bug population is incredibly difficult. If you don't find signs of bed bugs but think you may have them, contact a Pest Management Professional.
Begin by looking for bed bugs and their signs around your bed, as bed bugs like to stay close to their food source (you!). You will need to pull back the sheets and check all the mattress seams by spreading them with your fingers, on both sides of the mattress and box spring. If possible, flip over the box spring and inspect the interior. Also check the cracks and corners in and behind the headboard, and other furniture within 6-12 feet of your sleeping area.
What does a bed bug look like?
- All bed bugs have flattened bodies, six legs and no wings.
- Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown, and about the size of an apple seed.
- Newly hatched nymphs are off-white and very difficult to see.
- Bed bugs grow by molting between each instar stage, leaving behind cast skins that look like ghostly versions of life bed bugs.
- The juvenile stages (nymphs or instars) look like smaller, lighter colored versions of the adults. They darken in color with each molt.
- They have horizontal strips across their abdomen, which stretch once the bed bug has fed. All stages must feed on blood, and will appear to have red or black abdomens after feeding.
- Eggs are a grayish-white, laid singly or in small clusters within their hiding spots.
What you might see
|Juveniles (J) and cast skins (CS) in a mattress seam;
||Juveniles and fecal spots (FS) on a sheet;
||Adults (A), Juveniles, cast skins, and fecal spots in carpet;
||A harborage, including adults, juveniles, eggs (E) and fecal spots on a wall.
Common hiding places
Although bed bugs are most often found in bedrooms, they can infest almost any area of the home. Other common hiding places include:
- Behind electric outlet plates
- In upholstered furniture, especially couches or other places people sleep
- Behind, under and between cracks in molding and baseboards
- Beneath loose flooring
- In and around the edges of carpeting
- Behind loose wallpaper
- Under lamps on desks & tables
- Inside screw holes, such as in wooden furniture
- In cracks, seams and joints of furniture
- Behind or under cables and pipes
- Behind mirrors and picture frames
- In drapes, storage boxes, stuffed animals, electronics, appliances, luggage...