How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs?

There are only a few things worse than hearing an exterminator uttering the words "bed bugs." Actually, no, that's probably the worst. Notoriously difficult to eradicate, creeping and crawling all over you during the night, sucking your blood, these little dudes will drive you crazy — it's the stuff of nightmares. With 97 percent of pest professionals treating bed bugs in 2018, this nightmare may be a reality for you soon. 

Have you discovered a strange odor from your bed? Are you scratching your skin raw from bite marks? Maybe you have bed bugs, maybe you don't, but there are some obvious signs to check for before calling a professional.

The most obvious side effect of bed bugs is red and itchy skin

While bites may be a very common side effect, according to the CDC, not all people react to bed bug bites. That's right, these suckers can literally suck on your blood without there being any reaction to the skin. This means that it can be a little difficult to realize right away if you have bed bugs or not. For those who do react to the bites, they can expect small red bumps on the skin in a zigzag pattern or straight line that itch like crazy (via Medical News Today). For people who don't react to bed bug bites, there are other avenues of finding these culprits. 

Use your nose and your eyes to check for bed bugs

Are you wondering why your room smells like a wet towel? It could be the strong, gross smell that a bed bug leaves behind when they release pheromones (via Terminix). This smell can take over the room if you have a huge infestation. Some people describe the smell to be like moldy shoes socks and others describe it as musty.

Aside from using your nose, there's also evidence you can see with your eyes. While bed bugs get you in the night, they scatter all over the place during the day. According to Terminix, if you see groupings of dark brown and red dots on your bed, this, friends, is your blood that the bug has been feasting on (aka bed bug excrement). These droppings are digested blood and if you have a large infestation, these dots can be anywhere — your mattress, your bedsheets, along your headboard, near the carpet, or other popular areas where you hang out. Since these guys like to hang out in small confined areas like cracks in the wall or electrical outlets they can be difficult to spot with the naked eye (and really hard to kill).

What to do if you have bed bugs

It's best to call an exterminator or professional right away if you have a suspicion that you have bed bugs. Minor infestations can be less costly so it's best to nip it in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue. Just remember, you don't have bed bugs because you're dirty or unclean. Bed bugs can jump from one suitcase to another with such ease and precision that your skin won't know it until it's too late. Most metropolitan cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and New York City have huge numbers of bed bug infestations. 

Good luck out there, and sweet dreams!