Early Signs of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to remove from beds and bedding.
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to remove from beds and bedding. (Image: slept in hotel bed image by James Insogna from Fotolia.com)

Bed bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown pests that feed on human and animal blood. They often lurk in bed linens and bed frames. Mostly dormant during the day, at night, bed bugs come out of their hiding spots to feast on sleeping humans. If you suspect you have a bed-bug problem, look for the bed bugs at night, as the bugs are very good at hiding during the day.

Red, Bumpy, Itchy Skin

Red, bumpy or itchy skin is one of the earliest symptoms of bed bugs. Bed-bug bites are generally red, with a darker red color in the center, and are often clustered or lined up near one another. The bites are most often on the hands, face, neck and arms. Unfortunately, bed bug bites look like most other insect bites, so it is hard to tell whether your home has bed bugs without noticing a couple other symptoms.

Foul Odors

While foul odors are not always present when bed bugs have embedded themselves into your home, a musty, sweet, "buggy" smell does often accompany an extreme infestation. These odors are from secretions created in the glands of bed bugs.

Brown Spots

Small brown spots on bed linens are a sign of bed bugs; bed bug fecal matter is typically in the seams of sheets as well as on mattresses and the walls near an infested bed. The spots can be hard and look bumpy, or can take on the appearance of a stain from a dark-colored marker.

Empty Exoskeletons

Bed bugs molt five times before becoming adults, leaving behind empty, transparent, light-brown exoskeletons that look like empty bed bugs. Each exoskeleton becomes progressively bigger as bed bugs age; adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed.

Bloody Spots

Small smears of blood on your sheets is a telltale sign of a bed-bug problem. These smears occur when you accidentally crush an engorged bed bug while you are sleeping.

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