Determining the source of a bed bug infestation is at times impossible due to the vast number of ways in which bed bugs may be introduced into a home. In that same sense, finding evidence of a new infestation can also be complicated and may vary depending on how the bed bugs were introduced. While some are able to pin point the original introduction through known travel or introduction of a used piece of furniture into the home, others are at a loss on where to begin an inspection of their home during a suspected infestation. Bed bugs can live in nearly any crevice or protected location. Infestations introduced into the home in lower quantities such as a hitchhiking bed bug on luggage, often find evidence of infestation near sleeping areas such as beds and couches and may take up to 30 days to become evident. Meanwhile, infestations introduced in high quantities like infested used furniture items may find significant evidence within a short period of time following the introduction of the infested item. In these situations, bed bugs may disburse from the infested items seeking locations closer to their food source.
Typically the first sign of a bed bug infestation is the occurrence of bites from the bed bugs themselves. In the event of a newly started infestation, many residents attribute bed bug bites to other insects such as mosquitoes or spiders and it isn’t until activity increases or persists that they realize the potential of a bed bug infestation. Evidence of a bed bug infestation commonly includes bites, fecal or blood stains, eggs and of course, the nymph (baby) or adult bed bugs. A wide variety of reactions may occur in response to bed bug bites. While some people experience little to no reaction and may only see localized reaction such as that of a mosquito bite, others have severe reactions including welts and severe itching. Scratching of bites can at times lead to infection although bed bugs themselves are not known to transmit disease at this time. Fecal staining is common in and around harborage areas and often resembles brown to black dots or smears. The appearance is often compared to having taken a marker to the area. Blood stains may also be encountered when engorged bed bugs are inadvertently crushed. This is more common on sheets and pillowcases. Bed bug eggs are often difficult to locate, especially on light colored fabrics common on mattresses and box springs. Eggs are very small and tube shaped and typically grayish white in color. The actual bed bugs vary in size from about the size of the tip of an ink pen for newly hatched nymphs clear up to 3/16th of an inch (roughly the size of an apple seed) for fully mature adults. Bed bugs vary in color from tan (newly hatched nymphs) to reddish-brown to bright red depending on the timing of their last blood meal. Flattened in appearance, females are typically oval in shape whereas males have a more tapered or pointed abdominal shape. All life stages of bed bug have six legs and antennae.