The first thing to learn about checking for bed bugs is when you would be well advised to do so. There are two main situations in which people should take care to be alert for signs of bed bugs: when they are traveling and when they are concerned about conditions in their home.
Checking for Bed Bugs when Traveling
This is a serious consideration for anyone that is traveling in areas where bed bugs may be prevalent. Not being alert for signs of them can mean several unfortunate things, including all of the following:
- You may experience bites which will mean your vacation or holiday is less pleasant than intended.
- You may inadvertently bring bed bugs home with you as they can get into any clothing that comes in contact with them.
- Do not be fooled into thinking that this only means pyjamas and night clothes. Even if you discard those, the bed bugs may have been infesting not only the bed in the room but the chairs, carpet, and walls as well. Any of your clothing could have become infested.
Travelers should check for bed bugs in the hotel rooms where they are staying, whether these are located in their own country or abroad, since bed bugs can be a problem in virtually every region of the world, even those generally regarded as hosting cultures dedicated to cleanliness.
Checking for Bed Bugs at Home
This is a good procedure to do on a routine basis, but should be performed with special care and diligence whenever anyone in the family is developing peculiar bites on their arms, legs, necks, or other body parts. Although the exact species that make up the category of “bed bugs” are not the only possible culprits, they are indeed a likely one, particularly if you live in an area of the country where bed bugs are more prevalent or if anyone in your family has recently traveled to a region where this is true.
What are the Signs of Bed Bugs?
One of the very first warning signs is bites that appear on family members. This by itself is not terribly helpful, particularly for travelers who would like to know if their bedding or other furniture is infected before they sleep a night in a new hotel room.
Other signs include squashed bed bug marks present on mattresses, sheets, blankets, pillows, and other surfaces where people might sit or lie. Know what to look for, though — in most cases, these marks resemble not individual dead bugs, but tiny blood stains. This is because most bed bugs are so small that they are difficult to see with the naked eye.
After bed bugs have fed on a person, however, they will be filled with blood. If the person then rolls over or shifts in a way that squishes the bed bug, the bug will be crushed and the consumed blood will spill. Small blood stains are therefore a sign that someone may well have been bitten during the night by bed bugs.
A reputable hotel will of course launder the sheets before a new patron occupies a room. Despite this, however, there may still be small blood stains on the surface of the mattress itself as sometimes they can leach through the bottom sheet to affect the mattress. It is a reasonable precaution to take to check the condition of the mattress before you sleep in a bed, since bed bugs may inhabit the mattress itself and hence would not have been eliminated by the laundry process performed on the sheets and blankets.
This is a good idea in any case because if the mattress looks dirty for any other reason, you might think twice about whether or not you wish to give that hotel your valuable business, paying good money to stay there.
How to Check a Mattress
- Strip off all the bedding and look for blood stains as outlined above.
- Take a close look at the seams of the mattress, looking for either crawling critters or signs they have been present.
- The bed bugs themselves are very small, so you will need to take care to look very closely.
- The signs they have been present can include small spots of fecal matter and / or tiny eggs which appear to be translucent so can be even harder to spot than the bed bugs themselves. Eggs can be as tiny as a grain of rice and will appear to be attached to the mattress.
- Also inspect any creases in the mattress and the places where buttons are attached as all of these nooks and crannies are places where bed bugs prefer to inhabit.
- Stains may or may not indicate bed bugs but if you spot eggs, or less likely, the bugs themselves, you may be sure that the mattress in question and likely the entire room is infested with these nocturnal, biting creatures.
Check the Remainder of the Room
Nomenclature aside, bed bugs definitely like to live in places other than the bed. Wherever they reside, they prefer crevices and cracks. Now that you know what to look for: bugs, fecal stains, and rice-sized translucent eggs, take a close look at cracks in the walls or crannies in the floor. Examine all items of furniture as well.
Don’t forget to open all drawers and examine both the inside and outside corners for signs of infestation. Other important places to examine include the corners of closets and the frames around any artworks or pictures in the room. All chairs and couches that have soft elements such as cushions should also be examined with a critical eye.
If signs of bed bugs are detected, contact a professional pest eradication company for the best results. Although there are some steps you can take on your own, including heating or freezing your bedding, only a professional pest company can do the thorough job that a complete eradication will require.