How to tell if you have bed bugs


Let’s be clear from the start. A bite on its own is not enough to identify the culprit.

Shed skin and eggs are just two of the signs that could point to a bed bug problem. This article may come as a bit of a shock to you if you are one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who assume you have bed bugs just because you have woken up with bites on your body.

Here comes another shock. Not even medical professionals can accurately identify the source of your bite, just by looking at them that is rather annoying, I know.

You and the doctors and indeed pest control professionals must consider all the evidence, put your bites into context, rather like in a crime scene as grim as that may sound.

In fact, what this common jumping to conclusion demonstrates is just how paranoid people are about bed bugs. More importantly, it shows an awareness of the widespread nature of the problem  that is definitely a good thing.

How To Check for Bed Bugs

There are a number of common signs you should look for to confirm the presence of bed bugs in your bed room.

You should follow this same process whether you are inspecting your own bedroom at home or a luxury 5 Star hotel bedroom remember, bed bugs will go anywhere, with anyone!

Starting with the basics, below are three questions I often come across:

Q1: Can you See Bed Bugs?Bed Bug image | Rentokil

Although very small (usually between 4-5mm ), it is possible to see adult bed bugs with the naked eye.

Visualise a credit card.

Bed bugs have a lateral body allowing them to squeeze into the tightest cracks and crevices. The best description I have come across to demonstrate this is to think of a credit card – anywhere your credit card can slot into, so too can a bed bug! Actually pretty impressive, right?

Q2: Where can Bed Bugs Hide? 

  • in bed frames & headboard crevices
  • mattress seams
  • carpets and underlay
  • under skirting boards
  • inside screw holes
  • between timber floorboards
  • inside electrical sockets and fittings
  • in cracked or broken plaster
  • behind peeling wallpaper
  • drawers & cupboards, wardrobes and bedside cabinets.

Nevertheless, it may still be hard to find actual evidence of live bugs, unless you are facing a very, very bad infestation.

In situations like this, I have heard people describe carpets as moving due to the high numbers of bed bugs crawling across it (are you itching yet?).

Q3: What Colour are Bed Bugs?

They are mostly brownish in colour, becoming increasingly darker and more red as they feed.

Common Signs of Bed Bugs

You will need to know 2 things to ensure a thorough inspection:

  1. WHERE to look for evidence
  2. WHAT the signs are of a typical infestation

Bed Bug eggs

These are very small whitish oval-shaped objects. Where? Usually found in small clusters in cracks and crevices or attached to items of furniture or fittings. Rarely found in your bed, rather at the seams of your mattress.

Bed Bug droppings (poo)

These can be noticed as black stains. Where? Often found on mattresses. Their poo is comprised of your dried blood. Bed bugs tend to defecate shortly after every feed. Although individually these droppings are very small (less than 1mm) if left over time, they can produce a very obvious dark stain.

Shed skinShed Bed Bug Skin & Waste |

Bed bugs have to shed their skin in order to move onto the next stage in their lifecycle. They each do this five times as they develop into adults. Where? Piles of cast skins may be found behind headboards, along baseboards and in mattress seams.

Sickly, sweet smell

People have reported noticing an unpleasant smell in their home, which was later found to have bed bugs. This usually only occurs in a very heavy infestation!

If you can identify these signs, then you can be more certain you are dealing with a bed bug problem.

What To Do if You Find Evidence of Bed Bugs?

Call for expert, professional help. This is one pest you don’t want to take any chances with.

Consider these 3 things, to help you decide on best course of action:

  1. Bed bugs can spread very easily, from room to room. They will use cavity walls to disperse throughout your home or business.
  2. You will continue to suffer from bites until the problem is completely removed. Whilst some people do not have any allergic reaction to bites, others can suffer from the itchiness and also a possible rash.
  3. A female bed bug can lay between 200-500 eggs in as little as 2 months. An egg can develop into an adult in as little as 45 days (if the environment is favourable).

Do you want to take your chances with these odds?




  1. My neighbor has bed bugs, and I’m worried about them migrating to my place if they haven’t already. I’ve already checked my mattresses and beds, but I didn’t think of checking under floorboards, so I think I’ll be doing that next. It’ll be a lot easier thanks to your pictures, and I’ll definitely check for stains from droppings.

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