How to Check for Bed Bugs: Performing a Self-Inspection of Your Home or Apartment

Noticing itchy, red bumps on your skin in the morning? Perhaps you recently visited a friend or stayed at a hotel that you later found out had bed bugs. Or maybe you just want to be proactive about keeping your home bed bug-free.

It never hurts to be careful when it comes to these sneaky, bloodsucking pests.

Catching onto an infestation early (before it spreads) makes exterminating them much easier, saving you time, money, and stress. That’s why it’s a great idea to give your home or apartment an annual self-inspection for bed bugs.

In this article, we’ll show you how to check for bed bugs by performing a visual inspection of your dwelling.

Know What Signs to Look Out For

To make your search easier and more efficient, first familiarize yourself with these visual signs of bed bugs. 

You can find a more detailed explanation about each of these signs in our article: How Do I Know if I have Bed Bugs? 7 Signs to Look Out For.

  • Eggs: Bed bug eggs are oval-shaped, pearly white, and about 1 millimeter in length. They look like tiny grains of rice that are often found loosely stuck to surfaces in bed bug hiding place.
  • Shell Casings: These are abandoned husks in the shape of juvenile bed bugs. Shell casings are hollow, semi-transparent, and light brown in color, and they range in size from 1 mm to 6 mm.
  • Fecal Marks: Bed bugs leave droppings in the form of small, dark brown or black spots that resemble ink dots from the tip of a pen or marker.
  • Bloodstains: Unexplained red or rust-colored stains on sheets, clothing, or pillows are sometimes left behind by bed bugs after they finish feeding.
  • Adult Bed Bugs: Look for small, reddish-brown insects with flat, round bodies. They’re around the size of a flaxseed, ranging from 4 mm to 7 mm in length. After feeding, they may appear darker in color with a bloated appearance (similar to a football).
  • Bed Bug Nymphs: Young bed bugs nymphs start at 1 mm in length. They are partially-translucent and whitish-yellow in color, and develop a reddish-brown patch on their back as they grow.

How to Inspect Your Home for Bed Bugs

Now that you know what signs to look for, the next step is to start your inspection. 

Tools You’ll Need

Searching for possible bed bug infestations usually requires more than just your eyes. Here’s a list of recommended tools that will make your search easier:

  • Flashlight: Use this to light up hard to see places.
  • Card (e.g. playing card or credit card): Run it along seams and cracks, using the thin, rigid edge to extract any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside.
  • Hairdryer: Using safe heat settings, direct the hot air along seams in your mattress to cause bed bugs to flee.
  • Clear Tape or Camera: You can use these to catch specimens or pictures to send to your exterminator for confirmation and treatment
  • Vacuum: Have this handy in case you find any bed bugs that you’ll want to get rid of.
  • Safety gloves: For your safety, especially when moving furniture.

Start with the Common Hiding Places

Knowing where these pests like to hide will help narrow your search to more specific areas. 

During the day, bed bugs tend to seek out dark locations in fabric folds, cracks, and corners. Because bed bugs have tiny, flat bodies, they can hide inside crevices as small as 2 millimeters wide. 

  • Step 1: Examine pillows and bed sheets for bed bug fecal marks and unexplained bloodstains.
  • Step 2: Remove bed sheets and check around edges, seams, tags, and underneath the mattress.
  • Step 3: Remove the mattress and check crevices or indentations in the bed frame and headboard.
  • Step 4: Search dressers and nightstands, especially around corners and screw holes inside drawers.
  • Step 5: Check couches and seating by removing cushion covers to check inside and around the seams.
  • Step 6: Remove frames and posters from the walls and check the backs.
  • Step 7: Flip over rugs to check around and underneath.
  • Step 8: Pull furniture away from the walls to check the backs and the baseboards.

Home Inspection Tips:

  • Use clear tape to catch bugs or use a camera to take photos for professional confirmation. 
  • When using a hairdryer, direct the hot air along the seams of your mattress and other narrow crevices. This will force out any bed bugs in hiding.
  • Use a vacuum with a crevice tool to suck up any bed bugs that you find. Make sure to empty the vacuum afterwards into a sealed trash bag.
  • When inspecting and organizing infested clothing and fabrics, place sorted piles into sealed plastic bags in order to prevent bed bugs from spreading.
  • Launder fabrics using high heat (ideally 120° F or higher) to kill bed bugs and eggs. If infested laundry cannot be washed this way, place them in trash bags and move them inside the freezer for at least four days.

What to Do if You Still Can’t Find Bed Bugs

If you didn’t manage to find any bed bugs during your search, but you still strongly suspect that they’re hiding somewhere in your home, here are some other options:

  • Get any bites inspected by a professional to see if there’s another likely explanation apart from bed bugs.
  • Bed bugs can sometimes enter from a neighboring apartment. Ask your super if anyone has reported bed bugs in your building.
  • Place interceptors under the legs of your bed to trap any bed bugs trying to climb up.
  • Contact a pest control professional and schedule a canine bed bug inspection.

Conclusion

You now have a plan for inspecting your domicile for bed bugs. Remember that safety comes first. Also, bed bugs are experts at hiding, so be patient and thorough in your inspection.

If you find anything, feel free to take advantage of MMPC’s Free Pest ID Service for professional confirmation. MMPC is one of New York’s highest-rated pest control companies, with over 25+ years of experience finding and fighting bed bugs.

Contact us today if you have any questions regarding bed bug inspections, treatment, and prevention.