In the last couple of decades, there has been a huge surge of renewed interest in all matters pertaining to bed bugs. The reasons for this are not difficult to determine; with the elimination of DDT and many other highly toxic insecticides, bed bugs and other types of infestations are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. It used to be the case the bed bugs were considered to be an issue that only afflicted lower class neighborhoods or seedy hotel or motel rooms where the mattresses were never cleaned for decades at a time.
That perception was probably not completely accurate even when it was widespread. It is certainly not accurate today. Bed bug bites can afflict any person no matter how rich or poor and no matter which part of town they reside in. If you suspect that you have been bitten by bed bugs, the important thing is not to take this fact as some kind of judgment against your lifestyle or habits. Indeed, the important thing is to identify the bites accurately so that you can be sure to get rid of the offending insects using the right kind of chemical or physical elimination techniques – ones that will work against that particular species of bug.
Below you will find the main ways in which you can identify your bite marks as caused by bed bugs rather than some other kind of insect such as mosquitos.
In most respects, the average bed bug bite actually resembles a mosquito bite quite a bit. The bite will cause a small bump where it occurs; the most common areas are the face, neck, lower legs, feet, arms, and hands. These bumps may be almost flat or might be slightly raised. In addition, you may see a hue of redness on and around them as well as a slight amount of swelling along their periphery.
Identifying bed bug bites by location
It can be easy to confuse mosquito bites with those caused by bed bugs. However, mosquitos are pretty indiscriminate about where they like to bite people. Most campers can even relate stories about having had a mosquito fly up inside their nose or ear to land a bite in a very sensitive location.
Bedbugs, in contrast, will only bite areas that represent your exposed flesh while you sleep. This means that if you are getting a lot of bites on your abdomen and you always sleep with pajamas covering that area, it is not likely that the culprit will be bed bugs. Areas of skin that are exposed to your bedding – where bed bugs lurk, of course – are the ones that will be available and vulnerable to biting.
Identifying bed bug bites by pattern
Oddly enough, bed bugs are one of the few insects that tend to bite in a pattern formation. Medical professionals sometimes even refer to the pattern as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” to indicate a series of three bites in a row where a bed bug stopped to feed. If you see bites that are arranged in this linear fashion, even if there are four or more of them, you should suspect that you may need to contact a bed bug exterminator.
Another common biting pattern is the cluster, where several bites will occupy an area that is circular or oval in shape, as if a bug found a spot it liked and fed again and again within the vicinity.
Identifying bed bug bites by pattern
Some people find that bed bug bites have a particular odor to them. This is not universally the case – many people, for example, report no distinct smell at all. Still, the characteristic odor may be present; if it is, you will have one more reason to suspect that your home has fallen victim to a bed bug infestation.
Most people who report this odor characterize it as both intense and highly sweet. It is believed that the chemical bed bugs inject into the bite site to make the victim’s blood flow more freely is responsible for this characteristic odor.
Beyond the bite: other indications
Enough of these indications can make you think of bed bugs, to be sure, but to be certain, you should look beyond the bites themselves. Examine your bedding, mattress, bed frame, and even bed furniture in an effort to find more evidence. If you find stains and flecks that are tiny and brown, you almost certainly have bed bugs since these stains represent the bugs’ fecal excretions. Nasty, but true!
Another sure-fire indication of a bed bug infestation, of course, is spotting the bugs themselves – or their eggs, since in between active periods the bugs may lay hundreds of eggs. You don’t want to let these hatch out and make your problems worse.
So you definitely have bed bugs. Now what?
Instead, as soon as you know that you probably have a bed bug infestation, start looking into your options for eradication. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to completely eliminate these pests. You may need to keep at it for quite a while and try several methods, making one pass after another at the problem until you have finally wiped it out. Some of your options are chemical sprays, powders, physical methods such as a thorough vacuuming, and hiring a professional bed bug eradication expert.
Everybody is different, of course, but for my money, your best bet may very well be to hire a professional exterminator. At the very least, you should talk to an extermination firm in your local area and see how high their fees run. I recommend this because it is entirely possible that you will be dissatisfied with the do it yourself methods you try, and end up consulting a professional in any case. You can save yourself a lot of time, aggravation, and money by simply bypassing that whole step and going right with the professional. But that’s just my two cents, spoken as someone who has dealt with a few bed bug problems over the years.