Although you're probably inclined to deconstruct every inch of your home if you suspect it's occupied by bed bugs, hold off on making a mountainous mess until you've conducted a basic inspection. Sure, you need to know if they're there and how to get them under control if they are, but panicking, obsessing, and otherwise going out of your mind in the meantime is no way to live.
Here are five ways to spot these creepy critters while keeping your abode intact.
1. Using Your Eyes To Spot Bed Bugs
To conduct a thorough insect inspection, you need to know where these things hide. Get your white gloves on (literally), arm yourself with an actual magnifying glass, and start snooping in the following locations, where the bed bugs are most likely to leave evidence of their presence:
- All over your bed and bedding, including the pillow, and on any structural elements, such as the headboard, box spring, and joints in wood
- On sofas, under their cushions, between seams, and under antimacassars
- On the carpeting and under anything that provides cover
- Inside appliances and electronics, like your favorite laptop
- Behind paintings on the wall or even under the wallpaper, if it's peeling, bubbled, or loose enough to provide an opening
- Inside drawers, particularly the corners and joints
- Within boxes and suitcases (especially if you recently traveled or stayed in a hotel)
Beyond the traditional list of bed bug hiding spots, you need to think creatively, inspecting any element of your home that provides cover and is cozy, especially those nearest to sources of food (meaning humans). As you sleuth around, be aware of the tell-tale trail of the bed bug:
- Tiny black spots, likely to be bed bug poop
- Red stains that may be remnants of a bed bug that was squished somehow (such as under your sofa cushions)
- Bed bug casings and shells, which are usually light yellow or clear and surrounded by the little dark poop spots
- Bites on people or pets, which appear as small red dots with a dark center, sometimes in clusters (meaning multiple bites have occurred)
As hard as it may be to inspect your home for bed bugs, snooping for poop and expecting something to jump out at you around every corner, it's a necessary step in the process and your first line of defense.
2. Fitting A Mattress Encasement On Your Bed
A mattress fitted with an encasement could offer you clear and undeniable evidence of bed bugs, as it will leave the critters with no cover. If fitted before the invasion, an encasement will also stop the bugs from completely taking over the mattress and box spring, possibly preventing loss.
3. Setting Interception Contraptions
There are small and clever traps you can set for bed bugs, which should serve as a hands-free method of detection. The traps are set underneath areas where the bugs are most likely to be creeping, and once they fall in, they can't get out. If you set such a contraption and capture a bed bug, place the entire device, bed bug in tow, in a plastic zipper bag (making certain it's completely zipped shut). Save this to show the professionals you're more than likely going to have to hire.
4. Hiring A Pest Control Specialist
If you believe you have bed bugs, you should contact a pro, whether or not you've discovered conclusive evidence of their existence in your home. Tell the professionals the whole story, from when you first think the bugs may have arrived to every symptom around the home. They'll come over to do a professional bed bug inspection and work with you to devise a plan of attack.
5. Welcoming A Bed Bug–Sniffing Dog Into Your House
Ask your pest control specialist about dogs that can sniff bed bugs. Many have them, and if there's no one in your home with allergies to canines, the animal could be quite helpful. The home should be as quiet as possible for the dog's sleuthing, and people shouldn't try to interact with them until they're finished working or the pest professional gives the okay.
Before you go tearing your home apart, stop and think: what are you going to do if you find bed bugs all around? How should you tell your family or visitors who may have hung around your house? What about trying to figure out how they got in your home in the first place? You have far more productive things to do than tearing the place up if you suspect bed bugs, such as conducting a methodical, efficient inspection and having a smart plan of action, including contacting a helpful professional.