If you’re searching your home for bed bugs during the day, you probably won’t find them just by looking around.
Not only are these flaxseed-sized insects skilled at hiding themselves in the tiniest of cracks, they also tend to only venture out at night — while we’re asleep.
So how do you find bed bugs during the day? Here are 5 methods you can use to maximize your chances, based on our 25 years of experience as NYC’s bed bug control experts.
- Use a flashlight to search beds and furniture
- Use a card to probe cracks and crevices
- Set traps
- Get a canine bed bug inspection
How to Find Bed Bugs during the Day
It’s important to be able to confirm whether or not there are bed bugs in your home, and catching onto an infestation early will make it easier and less expensive to exterminate them.
1. Search Beds and Furniture with a Flashlight
When searching for bed bugs during the day, start at the bed — which is the #1 most common hiding spot for bed bugs — and radiate outwards to check nearby furniture, walls, and items. Typically, bed bugs have the highest likelihood of being found within 6 feet of the bed, although there are plenty of exceptions.
- Using a flashlight, inspect every gap, crevice, or seam around your bed. Bed bugs try to hide themselves deep inside narrow spaces, so a flashlight will help you see them.
- Physical actions like flipping your sheets and mattress can disturb any bed bugs in hiding, making it easier for you to notice them as they crawl away.
- As you comb through your bed, start by searching and removing bedsheets and pillowcases. In addition to live bed bugs, look for dried blood stains or fecal marks (tiny black dots).
- After you finishing checking, place the sheets and pillowcases into sealed plastic bags and launder them later if you suspect there are any bed bugs inside.
- For your mattress, work your way through every fold and seam as you look for bed bugs, eggs, shell casings, and fecal marks.
- Pay extra attention to the corners and seams around the edge, which is where bed bugs are most likely to be hiding. Flip your mattress over carefully and check underneath as well.
- Lastly, search through box spring and bed frame. If your bed is touching a wall, pull it out a few feet and check behind the headboard.
Aside from a flashlight, here are a couple other useful items to have handy while you search:
- Plastic bags to store and seal bedsheets and items.
- A vacuum with a crevice attachment to suck up any bed bugs you find.
- Isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle to sanitize infested areas.
2. Probe Cracks and Crevices with a Card
Bed bugs can hide in cracks and crevices as narrow as 2 millimeters (about the size of a crayon’s tip). If they’re holed up in such a narrow gap, it will be difficult to see them inside even with a flashlight.
In these cases, we recommend sliding a thin, rigid card through any gaps that you can’t see all the way into. You can use an old credit card, a playing card, a business card, or even a piece of paper folded over several times.
Slowly slide the card through each crack or crevice near your bed. If there are live bed bugs hiding within, you’ll be able to spot them as they try to flee.
Bed bugs are particularly likely to hide inside the cracks and joints of wooden furniture, such as:
- Tables and chairs
It’s a good idea to have a vacuum ready to capture any bed bugs that are displaced from their hiding spots. This will prevent them from spreading to other areas in your room or home. You can also use tape if you don’t have a vacuum handy.
Although bed bugs aren’t exactly attracted by clutter, a messy room makes it harder for you to search — especially during the day when bed bugs are in hiding.
Boxes, books, clothes, and children’s toys can all become potential harborage areas for bed bugs. If you’re trying to find bed bugs during the daytime, you’ll need to search through and remove clutter.
However, don’t take anything out of the room immediately — you might inadvertently move your bed bugs to a different room to infest. Instead, carefully search through each item one by one before placing them into sealed plastic bags.
As you declutter the room, keep the lights on and open curtains to let sunlight in to help you see bed bugs scattering about when their hiding spots are disturbed. Bed bugs are photophobic (afraid of light), and if they somehow find themselves in the light, they’ll immediately do a 180° turn and scurry towards the nearest shadow.
4. Set Traps
If you haven’t found any bed bugs after actively searching through your bed and nearby furniture, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Unless you’re a trained bed bug inspector, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss a few (or many) potential bed bug hiding spots during your search.
But that’s ok. Using bed bug traps is a relatively inexpensive and accessible way to catch and confirm if there are still bed bugs in your home. By setting traps at night, you’ll have a higher chance of finding bed bugs during the day.
Types of bed bug traps include:
We highly recommend using bed bug interceptors, which are passive traps shaped like dishes that go underneath each leg of your bed. Each dish has two sets of concentric walls, forming a “moat” around your bed. The walls are rough on the outside and smooth on the inside to allow bed bugs to climb in but not out.
Interceptors are passive traps, which don’t require baits or attractants. When bed bugs try to climb up your bed to feed at night, they’ll naturally get trapped by the interceptor. Check the interceptors in the morning to see if anything is caught.
While this can be an effective way to see if you have bed bugs during the day, traps take time to be effective. Bed bugs need to feed once every 5 to 10 days, so don’t expect to see results right away.
5. Get a Canine Bed Bug Inspection
A canine bed bug inspection is the fastest and most reliable way to find if you have bed bugs.
During the inspection, a trained and certified bed bug sniffing dog comes to your home, accompanied by an experienced handler, and uses its powerful sense of smell to locate any bed bugs that are hiding during the day.
A good canine inspection team can detect bed bugs with an accuracy rates greater than 95% — by comparison, the average accuracy rate of visual inspections is only 40-60%.
In addition to accuracy, canine inspections also provide immediate results. Bed bug dogs can immediately pick up the scent of individual bed bugs and their eggs, whereas interceptor traps may require 1 to 2 weeks for confirmation. This saves you precious time (and bites) when it comes to dealing with an infestation before it gets out of control.
This is a good option if you strongly suspect the presence of bed bugs, perhaps due to bites or other signs, even though you haven’t seen them during the day. To ensure reliable inspection results, only hire bed bug sniffing dogs that are certified by organizations like the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association (NESDCA).
Tips for Finding Bed Bugs
Common Signs of Bed Bugs
- Live bed bugs
- Translucent shell casings
- Tiny grain-shaped eggs
- Dark fecal marks
- Bloodstains on sheets
- Insect bites at night
- Unusual musty odor
Probable Bed Bug Hiding Places
- Mattress and box spring
- Pillows, pillowcases, and bed sheets
- Bed frame, headboard, and footboard
- Rugs and carpets
- Couches and cushions
- Storage boxes
- Tables, desks, and chairs
- Window frames and curtains
- Pictures and posters
- Electrical outlets
- Vents and radiators
MMPC was named one of the Best Exterminators in New York in 2021. Based in Long Island City, New York, we have over 25 years of experience providing reliable and eco-friendly pest control solutions.
If you need help dealing with bed bugs, reach out to MMPC today! We offer a range of bed bug services, from NESDCA-certified canine inspections to environmentally-friendly bed bug treatment and extermination programs.
Call (212) 219-8218 or use the link below to fill out our contact form.