Finding Bedbugs Before They Find You

Bedbugs are small, annoying creatures that are actually parasites who feed on warm-blooded animals usually when they sleep – hence their name. However, bedbugs can hide just about anywhere, but will most often be found near beds so they will be closest to their next "meal" of the day – or night – as the case may be.

How to Tell If You Have Bedbugs

Technically, the only accurate way to truly detect the presence of these tiny pests is to find one and verify that it is indeed a cimex lectularius, or as we know them as better – a bedbug. Don’t automatically assume that every tiny red mark on your skin is a bite from a bedbug as they could be caused by any number of things, including several other insect species. On the other hand, don't mistakenly assume that just because you haven't actually seen any bugs wandering around that they aren’t still there lurking within the fibers and fabric waiting to feed.

Fecal stains from bedbugs are often the most common way of learning that bedbugs are present. These stains are actually the partially digested blood of their host. They will be dark in color – usually black or dark brown – and will not easily be wiped clean, but will appear to smear instead.

Bedbugs and What NOT to Do

Resist the urge to instantly panic or worse, pack all of your belongings and vacate your home. If you aren't careful, you’ll more than likely bring along a few unwanted stowaways in the process anyway. Having a definitive plan and implementing an effective strategy is the best way to battle these little demons.

First, don’t use harsh chemicals, including pesticides and insecticides, unless you’ve been trained to do so, have the proper equipment, and are completely sure of their effects. Unless a product is specifically intended to be used as such, never apply anything to surfaces that will come in direct contact with humans or pets.

Make it a point to keep your home, especially the bedrooms, as free from clutter as possible to avoid giving bedbugs more places to hide and multiply. The dark color and flat bodies of mature bedbugs allow them to hide in crevices and cracks, completely concealing themselves from view. Leaving piles of clothes and bedding around your bedding will only make it harder to treat your bedbug problem.

If you do need to leave your residence while it is being treated for bedbugs, be extremely careful not to inadvertently take any with you. The same advice holds true for traveling. Avoid keeping your luggage on the floor and upon returning home, scrub suitcases with a stiff brush and vacuum both inside and out to be sure that no “hitchhikers” found a ride home with you. Also launder all clothing in hot water and be sure to thoroughly inspect everything you had with you.

Any one can have a bedbug problem – including major hotel chains – so don’t assume you’re safe just because you’ve left home. In fact, some frequent travelers even report that they habitually leave their suitcases in their vehicles, transporting items back and forth as needed in plastic bags to protect themselves from future infestations. While this may be rather inconvenient, so is trying to get rid of bedbugs from your home when you didn't even know they were there!