Occasionally you may see evidence of a bed bug infestation without actually seeing any bed bugs. Bed bugs leave fecal stains in the areas they inhabit. These stains are actually digested blood but remember that it will not be red unless you crush a bed bug that has just recently fed. As the blood is digested it turns black and therefore the bed bug droppings usually consist of several black spots in one area. The fecal spots will not flake off if rubbed and will smear if wiped with a wet rag.
The key to knowing if you have an active bed bug infestation is to produce a live sample of a bed bug. There are several ways to do this:
1. Visual inspection of sleeping and resting areas such as beds and upholstered furniture.
Carefully examine the areas beneath fitted sheets, along the edges of mattress piping, if no bugs or evidence of bugs are found, remove the mattress and continue with inspection of the box spring paying close attention to the four corners under the plastic corner guards and the on the underside of the box spring where the dust cover is stapled into the frame. Keep in mind that bed bugs can easily be missed during a visual inspection so using one or more of the other methods below is recommended if no bugs are found during a visual inspection.
Installation of interception devices or active monitors.
Installing interception devices under the legs of beds and couches is one of the most effective and economical methods to detect low level bed bug infestations that are missed during a visual inspection. Interception devices can be placed directly under or immediately adjacent to the legs of sleeping and resting areas such as beds and sofas. Bed bugs will naturally move around in an infested environment and these devices will trap them as they travel to and from beds and furniture. It is best to leave interceptors in place for up to 2-4 weeks inspecting them once every few days to once per week for activity.
It is important to remember that no one detection tool or method is ever 100% effective, so using a combination of methods is always recommended
The longer bed bugs exist without being detected, the greater their opportunity to disperse within the environment, making it harder to find and eliminate the population. Remember, females drop up to 5 eggs per day during their lifespan, so one or two undetected bugs can quickly lead to a serious infestation.
I Have Bed Bugs, Now What?
Contact a professional! There is little chance you can eliminate a bed bug infestation on your own. Most commercially available pesticides aren’t designed for bed bugs and while they may kill some bed bugs, they may only spread the bugs to remote areas and make the problem much more difficult to solve. Complete elimination of bed bugs requires highly trained and licensed individuals knowledgeable in bed bug biology, behavior, and the proper use of pesticides.
While chemical remedies should only be handled by professionals, there are many non-chemical measures you can take to help eliminate the problem and speed up the results of your bed bug program.
Remove bed bugs: Don’t wait for a professional to kill bugs. Crush them with a rag (although this may stain surfaces) or remove them with a vacuum. Regularly inspecting and vacuuming your mattress and box spring is a very effective way to reduce large numbers of bed bugs quickly. Avoid using vacuum attachments that have brushes or bristles. Instead use the open end of the hose. As soon as you are done vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be tied shut in a trash bag and discarded outside of the home. If you have a bagless vacuum, the contents of the canister should be emptied into a trash bag and tied shut. The canister should then be washed to remove any remaining bed bugs or eggs.
Eliminate clutter: Clutter is a bed bug's best friend and a pest management professional's worst enemy. Clutter provides an infinite number of areas for bed bugs to hide and creates areas that cannot be effectively treated by your pest management professional, which can cause the complete failure of a bed bug control program. If cluttered conditions persist, your pest management professional may only be able to reduce the number of bed bugs and never completely eliminate the problem.
Install mattress and box spring encasements: Use an encasement specifically designed for bed bugs and has scientific data to support the effectiveness of the product. Once beds are encased any bugs that may be trapped within the encasement will unable to escape or feed and will eventually die. In addition, bed bugs are restricted to the surface of the encasement where they are easy to spot and remove.
Do not change where you sleep: Bed bugs have evolved over thousands of years to be very adept at locating potential hosts to feed on. Changing where you sleep is likely to promote the movement of bugs throughout the structure and make it more difficult to eliminate the infestation. Although it sounds like a grim choice, it is best to continue sleeping in the infested area until the bed bugs are eliminated.
Do not immediately throw items away: For many people, the immediate reaction to a bed bug infestation is to throw away infested items. This is unnecessary and could possibly make the problem worse. Carrying items through the home can spread bugs to uninfested areas. Discarded items are often picked up by other people (maybe even your neighbor), spreading the problem to new areas. One of the biggest misconceptions about bed bugs is that infestations are limited to the bed. For this reason, many people throw their bed(s) away believing that this will solve their problem. Unfortunately, discarding the mattress and the box spring rarely solves the problem and new beds that are purchased and brought into the home often become infested by bugs that were still present in the structure.