How to Identify Bed bugs

Learn what bed bugs look like and the signs they leave behind so you can stop an infestation.

Bed Bugs Are Back

Some things really should just stay out of fashion. Bed bugs, long dismissed as a pest endured by our ancestors, have crept back into modern life. If you visit a place that is infested with bed bugs, they can hitch a ride in your suitcase to begin a new colony in your house. You can't judge a bed bug by its bite. That nasty welt on your leg could have just as easily been caused by a flea or a mosquito. Here are some things you'll want to know about bed bugs, including what to do about them.

What Are Bed Bugs, Anyway?

Maybe you don't want to know. Bed bugs are non-flying, bloodsucking insects that have adapted to living close to their food source. That means us. When they bite, they take a few drops of blood and inject saliva into our skin. Over time and repeated exposure, some people can become sensitized to bed bug saliva and develop irritations or even allergic reactions.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Knowing exactly what you’re dealing with is the first step in any good pest control plan. Learn these unique characteristics of adult bed bugs so you can confidently identify them.

  • 6 legs

  • 2 small antennae

  • Wingless

  • Reddish-brown color

  • Approximately ¼ inch long with a flat, oval-shaped body (about the same size and shape of an apple seed)

  • Bed bugs appear darker, larger and rounder after feeding
  • Young bed bugs (nymphs) will look the same as adults, but smaller and lighter in color.

Signs of Bed Bugs

Since bed bugs are nocturnal and only come out of hiding to feed, they can be hard to find. If you’re unable to find a live one, then look for these telltale signs they leave behind.

Blood stains. Since bed bugs feed on blood, look for dark red or rust-colored stains on your bedding and pajamas.

Fecal marks. Bed bug excrement is often liquid and will look like tiny black ink marks that have bled into fabrics.

Molted skins. Bed bugs will shed their skin 5 times before they reach adulthood. If you find a lot of skin casings, then it could mean bed bugs have been present for several weeks, or even longer.

Egg casings. Female bed bugs can lay multiple eggs per day. They're about the size of a speck of dust and have a whitish color. You'll likely find them hidden in secluded areas, such as seams and tufts of a mattress.

Bed Bug Habits

Bed bugs like to hide in dark, tight places and are patient. They're able to hang around for months waiting on a meal, and can live a long time, well over a year if the conditions are favorable. However, they don't just come out in the dark; bed bugs will venture into the light if they're hungry enough. If worrying about bed bugs is keeping you up at night, use the Ortho® Home Defense Max® Bed Bug Trap. The attractant will lure bed bugs out of their hiding places and into the trap in under an hour.

How to Control Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can be hard to control and requires a multi-pronged approach. Use these tips to kill bed bugs in any area of your home.

For curtains, mattresses, furniture, and even luggage use Ortho® Home Defense Max® Bed Bug Killer. The aerosol kills beds bugs fast, including pyrethroid-resistant ones, and will keep killing bed bugs for up to 16 weeks (on non-porous surfaces).

Use Ortho® Home Defense Max® Bed Bug, Flea & Tick Killer with the Comfort Wand® to kill bed bugs hiding in the carpet and along baseboards.

Kill bed bugs hiding in cracks and crevices with Ortho® Home Defense Max® Bed Bug & Flea Killer Powder.

For more in-depth information, check out How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs.

If your bed bug problem is substantial, you may feel more comfortable with professional treatment. If you rent your home, contact your landlord about having the property treated for bed bugs. Be sure that adjacent apartments are treated, too, since bed bugs can travel between walls. If you own your own home, contact a pest control company.

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