How To Detect Bed Bugs

This article features some of the ways to detect bed bugs at home or other places like in the hotel. These inspection tips seek to help avoid any initial conditions from expanding into more severe bed bug problem.


When it comes to bed bug detection, there are basically three options: 1) Engage an exterminator or professional, 2) engage a trained dog, or 3) simply do it yourself.

[May: This article will focus on how to detect bed bugs on our own. Also, we have no idea where to find a trained dog to help in this task.]

Notice: If evidence of live bed bugs are already found (and confirmed), skip this section and head over to other bed bug control articles here, here & here. Control measures should be taken right away…

The most accurate way to know for sure if you have bed bugs is to actually catch/ see one. That said, there are certainly many trails to help identify and detect bed bugs without actually catching or seeing one.


Signs of Bed Bug

Bite Marks – The very first signs of knowing whether there’s bed bugs should be experiencing or noticing signs of bites on exposed skin. Especially so if you wake up in the morning with bite marks that were not there before going to sleep.

Bed bug bites look reddish, flat, in zigzag lines or small clusters. They look similar to bites from mosquitoes or chiggers. They can also resembles rashes (like eczema or fungal infections), or even Urticaria (also known as hives).

Note: Do not automatically assume that any bite-like mark is a bed bug bite though. Evaluate the location and situation and monitor/ investigate further.

Stains – Bed bugs leave clusters of dark brown or rusty or reddish (partially digested blood) stains or black (fecal) spots (usually on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed). Magnifying glass and flashlight is very helpful when conducting the detection.

Odor – Bed bugs also give out a subtle, sweet, unpleasant & musty odor (similar to a wet towel that’s not fully dried). When in large numbers, their released pheromones can be quite strong and smell like dirty locker room.


Common Bed Bug Hiding Places

Bed bugs are very likely to be found near where people spend most of their time stationary (not moving). The flattened bodies allow bed bugs to hide inside small cracks and crevice waiting to take their next meal.

The Bed – Usually beneath fitted sheets and along the edges of mattress piping. It is also possible to have bed bugs hiding in the corners of the box spring or under the plastic corner guards. Also check the underside of box spring where the dust cover is stapled into the frame.

Tip: Go slow and use magnifying and flash to help as bed bugs can easily be missed during a visual inspection.

Around The Room – Couches, sofas, curtains and edges of the carpet (basically anything upholstered). Also look behind dressers, the headboard and underneath the bed.

In The Closet – Bed bugs move around and spread by hiding in luggages, bags and also by clinging to clothing. Hence be sure to look in the closets and examine clothing thoroughly.


Use of Bed Bug Interceptors & Traps

Installing interception traps under the legs of beds and couches is one good way to detect presence of bed bugs. It is relatively cheap and can also double up as a preventive measure that prevents bed bugs from crawling up to get to you.

Related article: Can Bed Bugs Fly?

Use of Bed Bug Mattress Covers

Bed bug mattress and box spring encasements are designed and tested to protect mattresses from bed bugs. They are also useful in the bed bug detection process as it restricts bed bug’s access to bury itself inside the mattress and box spring. This helps shorten inspection time

Tip: Bed Bug Mattress encasement also protects mattress warranty because (yup) stains actually voids mattress warranty.

>> See full list of the Best Bed Bug Mattress Covers


Final Thoughts

While early detection of bed bugs is desirable, it can be very difficult when only a few bugs or eggs are present (even for qualified inspector).

Most of the time, the bite marks on your body are not from bed bugs at home, but bitten in the day while you are out. It is also better to monitor and look out for any activity over a period of time to identify if you are really facing a bed bug issue.

Lastly, it is essential to be careful and be alert while not being paranoid.

Have you experienced Bed bugs at home before? How did you manage to detect them? Leave a comment to share with us.

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