How to know you have bed bugs

If you just started to notice bites you are probably wondering how you can know if you have bed bugs or not.

If you’ve already seen and/or captured a bed bug and had it confirmed, then you can skip ahead to Treatment Options and Choosing a Competent Pest Company.

If you already know what vampire insect you are fighting then you should be getting ready to spring into action, or stumble depending on how little sleep you’re getting.

None of these signs mean you HAVE bed bugs, but it may. The only way you can know you have bed bugs is by capturing and identifying one. You MUST inspect and find a bed bug to know for sure. I know you have read this again and again, and it’s frustrating. And the most frustrating thing about having to find a bed bug before you can get treatment is that they are so hard to find. That’s why I strongly suggest people get a professional pest company inspection. They know what they are looking at, they know the signs.

These could be signs of bed bugs.


Bites in groups of twos and threes, unexplained welts or finding small blood spots or small black marker dots on your pillowcase, mattress pad, mattress, box-spring or sheets. These signs could also be caused by a dry skin spot or scab. It could be lipstick or mascara rubbed onto your bed while sleeping, or it could be signs of bed bugs.


Sometimes you will see these signs or actual bugs on the sides of your bed frame, where the mattress edges fit. 

Welts, hives or an allergic reaction, or a rash can be serious. If you do have hives or welts, consult with your doctor to rule out a dangerous allergic reaction. You might have a spider or other insect bite, poison oak or poison ivy, a reaction to a new soap, cleaners, medication or makeup, or a door or cart you touched at the market. 

If your infestation is fairly new, it’s possible you won’t see or find any signs of bed bugs, except possibly the bites you are experiencing. If your infestation has been growing for weeks or months, you still might not find anything.

Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of zoology.

Maybe you will see a spot or smudge of blood on your sheets, or under the sheets. Again, that is not proof of bed bugs, but it may be a good reason to inspect on, around and under your bed.

If you are seeing multiple insects then your infestation is already growing and getting bigger. Every single bed bug wants a meal and will not stop trying to get one until it is dead. And they get hungry every three to ten days, all of them.

People with bed bugs who start sleeping on their sofa, or in a chair will infest those also, and end up with nowhere safe to sit or sleep. If you have bed bugs they will always follow you from the bed to the sofa to the chair. Only sleep in your bed.



bed bug traps

Set traps for them because you know they will come. ClimbUp monitors have been tested and used successfully for years now and are a critical part of not only identifying if you have bed bugs, but confirming you no longer do after treatment.

Because treatment is so disruptive, expensive and time-consuming it is absolutely necessary to find a bed bug before beginning treatment. 

Since bed bugs are primarily* nocturnal, you could go weeks with mysterious bites not know why or where they are coming from. 

Because people have a pretty wide variety of reactions to bed bug bites, such as not reacting to the bite until hours or days later, or mistaking the bites for hives, it can be tricky to know what’s biting you. Some people do not react at all. 

If you have only one bed bug, new bites should show up in 3-10 nights. If you have a lot of bugs and newly hatching nymphs (baby bed bugs), you may be getting new bites every night. 

Be prepared that it takes time to get rid of them because of their rapid reproduction cycle.

The sooner you know you have bed bugs the faster you can begin treatment. Acting quickly to identify and treat bed bugs is the fastest way to get rid of them before they start reproducing like crazy.  Isolating your bed so anything trying to climb in or out gets trapped where you can visibly see it/them will keep you informed about your bed bug population or help to confirm you do have bed bugs.

You can count on bed bugs for one thing, they want to eat and will go to the food source (you) until they are either dead, or trapped. They will not stop trying to feed. Use this information to your advantage.

Unexplained Bug Bites

Unexplained bites or welts that are appearing in frequency on a daily or weekly basis, small blood spots on the sheets, black marker dots on your sheets or pillow cases (bed bug excrement-your blood), obvious molt castings, these are signs you may have bed bugs.

Since bed bugs are primarily* nocturnal, you could go weeks with mysterious bites and not know why or where they are coming from. Because people have a pretty wide variety of reactions to bed bug bites, such as not reacting to the bite until hours or days later, or mistaking the bites for hives, it can be tricky to know what’s biting you.

How long would it take to see signs of bed bugs?

This depends on you, and the bed bug(s). Did one come from a hotel, movie theater, bus, or coffee house, hitch-hiking on a back-pack or jacket, or did a small herd of them migrate from a connected apartment into yours?

An adult female will begin laying 3-5 eggs a day.

When those eggs hatch in about 7-10 days, those baby bed bugs, called nymphs, will seek their first meal.

When they reach adulthood (after about 5 meals) in about 5-7 weeks, those females will begin laying 3-5 eggs daily. So now you have a bed bug factory with multiple eggs being laid every single day, and two months later you’ve got a nice infestation on your hands. This is why it is so important to get an early inspection and rapid treatment if you do have bed bugs.

Have your home inspected if you suspect bed bugs

Have an inspection at the earliest date you suspect it could be bed bugs. Either you will find out you do not have bed bugs, and can take a big deep breath, or you have identified that bed bugs are in your home, and you will have treatment before the population explodes. We have some tips on how to select a competent pest company here.

First steps for bed bugs

  • Don’t throw away your mattress. Inspect, steam and encase it. Learn more about isolating your bed here.
  • Don’t start throwing out tons of your possessions. There are ways to treat almost everything. You can put things you can’t treat right away in Bed Bug Proof Zip Lock Bags.
  • If you are going to throw things away, put them in double sealed black heavy-duty trash bags and bring the bag to the stuff instead of the stuff to the bag.
  • Don’t spread bed bugs around your house further by moving infested items and shaking bed bugs all over your home, building or car.
  • If you decide to get rid of your bed or furniture, wrap and tape everything in plastic sheeting.
  • Do not return clean clothing to infested rooms. Seal clean clothing in giant zip lock bags (clear) or heavy duty trash bags marked “clean”.

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