They’re spooky, love to hide and cause mischief… No, not the kids in their Halloween costumes — we are talking about bed bugs!
These guys can be hard to find, but you’ll know they’ve made themselves at home in your bed when you wake up with bites. You might have heard that you can only see bed bugs at night, but that’s not the case, and we will tell you today how to find them during the day.
Warning: Maybe don’t read this just before bedtime.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Let’s start with the basics: What is a bed bug?
A bed bug is a tiny wingless insect that lives in your bed. They hide in the cracks and crevices of your bedding and mattress and generally only come out at night to feed. When we say small, we mean small. They’re red-brown bugs about the same size as an apple seed.
Because they prefer to eat at night when victims are sleeping, and the bug’s risk of being squished is minimal, many people think they won’t be active during the day, but it’s not entirely true.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Bites can happen anywhere on the body and resemble red itchy bumps similar to flea bites. The two differences are that flea bites will have a red dot in the center and happen primarily around the ankles.
Bed bugs will bite you anywhere they can and will need anywhere from three to ten minutes max to fill their bellies.
How To Find Bed Bugs During Daytime
While many people won’t notice bed bugs during the day because they prefer to lay low while you’re active, you can find them or evidence of them during the day.
We’ve gathered a list below of a few tips and tricks for checking your room for bed bugs while the sun is up.
Use a Flashlight
Using a flashlight, you can check for bed bugs on your mattress or in your box spring during the day. Do this by picking up the mattress and examining it close-up. You can also turn the box spring over on its side and remove the cover on the bottom.
The box spring is a great place to hide if you’re a bed bug, so you can expect to find remnants or live ones there.
Use a Bed Bug Monitor or Trap
You can buy bed bug traps or monitors to detect bed bugs in your space. Put the devices around your bed or behind the headboard and see what it picks up.
Several different types of these detectors exist, with the pit-fall style monitor being the most popular. Note that some methods (like the dry ice one) might not be safe with children or pets in the home.
Lift Your Bed Frame
While the box spring is an easier place to hide, the bed frame can also be a stationary piece of furniture that makes a good home for wandering bed bugs. It’s near the bed where you sleep (of course) and is heavy, so it’s unlikely to be moved around a lot.
Pick it up and lean it on its side to see if there’s any movement or evidence (carcasses, feces, etc.) of bed bugs in the corners of the frame.
Check the Headboard
If you don’t have a large bed frame but do have a headboard, bed bugs will still have ample hiding space. You’ll want to pull the headboard away from the wall and check for any bed bugs or bits of bed bugs left behind.
Check All the Furniture
They may like your bed the best, but any piece of furniture in your room can serve as a nice home for bed bugs. So if you suspect bed bugs are biting you while you slumber, you’ll want to check any additional furniture pieces in your room.
Bed bugs can attack anytime they’re hungry, which means you may find the odd active bed bug during the day. While you may not just sit around looking for bugs during the day, keep an eye out anytime you’re in your room without disturbing the bed.
A hungry bed bug might be wandering around looking for a meal.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Now that we know how to find them, let's explore some ways you can get bed bugs in your home. First, you need to know how they could infect your bed so you can be vigilant in keeping them away.
It is always awesome getting great deals on big pieces of furniture. But bed bugs can live for a long time between meals — so you may buy a cute secondhand couch but get a little more than you bargained for.
Check all secondhand furniture purchases thoroughly before bringing them into your home, and if you find any evidence of bed bugs, rectify the situation before taking anything inside.
It can be quite common for bed bugs to hitch a ride on suitcases and come home with you when you travel. Check your hotel rooms thoroughly for any evidence of bed bugs before packing up, and shake out your luggage before packing, just in case.
What Are Signs of Bed Bugs?
A few tell-tale signs can clue you into bed bugs, so keep an eye out for these in case you suspect bed bugs have been attacking you at night.
Blood Spots or Red Stains on the Bed
Bed bugs fill their bellies by piercing our skin and drinking our blood. When they do this, you can sometimes bleed onto the sheets before a scab begins to form.
You’ll notice small red spots staining the sheets, and if you also have small, itchy, red bumps on your limbs, then you could very well have bed bugs.
Rusty or Dark Stains
Bed bugs, like other insects and animals, have to poop from time to time, and unfortunately, they don’t use the toilet. You may be clued into an issue with bed bugs if you notice rust or dark-colored stains on the sheets where bed bugs have relieved themselves.
An Unpleasant Odor
Bed bugs talk to each other by sending pheromone signals back and forth. You may notice sweetly acidic or musty smells on your sheets, even if they are freshly laundered. This could be your first clue to check for bed bugs.
Welts on the Body
Bed bug bites can look similar to flea bites and itch like mosquito bites, but if you wake up with bites that you didn’t have when you went to bed, you may have bed bugs.
Bed bugs and their eggs are tiny and can be hard to see. However, if you strip your bed of blankets and sheets and find small white eggs in your sheets, they’re almost certainly bed bugs.
Find Shedded Skin
Eggs can be hard to find, but bed bugs also shed their skin. So even if you can’t find eggs, there will be carcasses and shedded exoskeletons left behind in your bed.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Now that you know how to find them, you need to know how to get rid of them. Bed bugs can live a while, even without a meal. So don’t think you’re safe just because it’s been a minute since you’ve been bitten.
Clean All the Bedding
Start by stripping all the sheets and blankets off the bed and cleaning them thoroughly. You’ll want to wash them on the hot water cycle for a minimum of 30 minutes. Then you’ll want to dry them on the highest heat setting for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Clean the Mattress Seams
Bed bugs like to hide in the seams and crevices on your mattress, so take a flashlight and handheld broom and scrub and sweep out these areas. You’re likely to see many remnants of bed bugs fly around, but the next step will take care of that.
Your vacuum is going to get a workout right now. Move all the furniture out of the room after shaking the pests out, and then vacuum everywhere and anywhere.
Bed bugs need places to hide while you’re awake, so keeping your room clear of clutter and debris will leave them with little to no options for hiding spaces.
If you notice that your room has become a little unkempt lately, throw away trash and organize everything that needs to stay.
Clean Up Cracks and Peels
Bed bugs can also find a lot of use in cracks and holes in the walls or baseboards and torn areas in wallpaper. To keep bed bugs from setting up shop in these areas, glue down torn areas of wallpaper and fill in cracks and holes.
It’ll keep bugs out and have your room looking new again.
One of the most common ways to end up with bed bugs is by bringing them home from a trip or hotel. Keep luggage on a luggage rack in hotels, and keep clothes and shoes off the floor.
Before packing, shake everything out to thwart any travelers.
Studies confirm that a few specific essential oils can help eliminate and repel bed bugs.
Oils like citronella have been used for hundreds of years to repel mosquitoes, and now scientists have found that they can also keep bed bugs away. However, one setback can be the length of time that treatment qualities of essential oils last.
Thankfully, you have the BuzzPatch in your back pocket. While originally formulated to keep mosquitoes away, BuzzPatch can be effective in repelling many types of creepy crawlies for up to eight hours per patch.
Fast Facts About Bed Bugs
Here are a few facts about bed bugs that can help you know everything you need to keep them out of your home:
Bed Bugs Like To Settle In a Permanent Location
Bed bugs will stay close to their meal source, so your best bet at finding them is either on or near your bed. This means you’ll want to check every corner near your bed because there might be stragglers (or whole parties) in every crevice.
Bed Bugs Like To Eat and Run
Bed bugs can’t fly, but they can move pretty quickly. It takes roughly ten minutes for a bed bug to fill their belly, and after that, they get out of the area as quickly as possible.
Bed Bugs Don’t Discriminate
Bed bugs will make a meal out of you, but they will also go after the animals in the house too. Like mosquitoes, bed bugs will find their blood meal anywhere they can get it, and they aren’t picky.
Bed Bugs Are Slow To Breed
Bed bugs live a long time, and female bed bugs can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime but only lay about one to five eggs a day. This means that the colony can survive for a long time with just one female bed bug producing a new generation.
Bed Bugs Are Hard To Find
Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye, but they are very tiny. This is why they usually go unnoticed for such a long time. It will take a lot of patience and perseverance, but you can detect them on your own.
Goodnight and How To Not Let the Bed Bug Bites
Even if you haven’t been bitten yet, always do a quick check before bed. This way, you will know about any infestations as soon as they happen and can prevent the issue from getting out of hand.
We are confident that the information here and our patches can help you fight bed bugs and keep them away for good.
Bed Bugs - What They Are and How to Control Them | HealthNY
Do Any Essential Oils Repel or Kill Bedbugs, or Treat Bites? | Healthline
Bed Bug Management Guidelines | UC IPM