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Early Signs of Bed Bugs

Updated February 21, 2017

Bed bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown pests that feed on human and animal blood. They often lurk in bed linens and bed frames. Mostly dormant during the day, at night, bed bugs come out of their hiding spots to feast on sleeping humans. If you suspect you have a bedbug problem, look for the bed bugs at night, as the bugs are very good at hiding during the day.

Red, Bumpy, Itchy Skin

Red, bumpy or itchy skin is one of the earliest symptoms of bed bugs. Bed-bug bites are generally red, with a darker red colour in the centre, and are often clustered or lined up near one another. The bites are most often on the hands, face, neck and arms. Unfortunately, bed bug bites look like most other insect bites, so it is hard to tell whether your home has bed bugs without noticing a couple other symptoms.

Foul Odors

While foul odours are not always present when bed bugs have embedded themselves into your home, a musty, sweet, "buggy" smell does often accompany an extreme infestation. These odours are from secretions created in the glands of bed bugs.

Brown Spots

Small brown spots on bed linens are a sign of bed bugs; bed bug fecal matter is typically in the seams of sheets as well as on mattresses and the walls near an infested bed. The spots can be hard and look bumpy, or can take on the appearance of a stain from a dark-coloured marker.

Empty Exoskeletons

Bed bugs moult five times before becoming adults, leaving behind empty, transparent, light-brown exoskeletons that look like empty bed bugs. Each exoskeleton becomes progressively bigger as bed bugs age; adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed.

Bloody Spots

Small smears of blood on your sheets is a telltale sign of a bedbug problem. These smears occur when you accidentally crush an engorged bed bug while you are sleeping.

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About the Author

Ginger Yapp has been writing professionally since 2006, specializing in travel and film topics. Her work has appeared in such publications as "USA Today" and online at Hotels.com. Yapp also has experience writing and editing for a small California newspaper. She earned her B.A. in film and media studies and has worked as an ESL teacher at an international school.