8 Warning Signs Bed Bugs Are Nearby, According to Experts
They might be hiding out in your home right now.
Paris is under siege—by bed bugs. Various outlets have reported that the City of Love (and biting insects) is scrambling to address a widespread bed bug infestation before it hosts the 2024 Olympics, which open in a mere nine months. The pests have been found in local homes, hotels, hospitals, and schools, and experts worry that if they're not eliminated, they could hitch rides home with thousands of visiting tourists, athletes, and journalists, leading to a global infestation. Sniffer dogs have been enlisted in the battle. But bed bugs aren't an issue exclusive to Paris, and they might be hiding out in your home right now. Here's how to tell.
Bedbugs are typically a flattened oval shape. "A bed bug has six legs, two antennae, and three body parts," Arrow Pest Control explains. "It ranges from 1mm to 4.5mm in length, has creases on its abdomen, and a see-through skin that will allow you to see its black, coated interior, or your blood inside it. Bed bugs begin a pale color and go from tan to rusty-brown as they develop."
Bed bugs are nocturnal and start feeding in the evening. "Bedbug infestations usually occur around or near where people sleep," says the Mayo Clinic.
Bed bug bites usually appear on skin that's exposed during slumber. They often are seen in a cluster or a line. According to the Mayo Clinic, they can take the form of inflamed spots, often with a darker spot in the middle; they're itchy, and often located on the face, neck, arms, and hands. Some people aren't particularly bothered by the bites; others can experience allergic reactions that need a doctor's attention. Either way, experts say: Don't scratch.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you might see "Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed." Small brown spots may be signs of bed bug feces.
Bed bug eggs and eggshells are small, about 1mm. "Female bed bugs can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime and up to five eggs each day. Their eggs are small and pearly white– almost as thick as a dime," says the national pest control company Terminix. You might also notice pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
"A strong, unpleasant, musty odor like a wet towel is another sign of bed bugs," says Terminix. "Bed bugs release pheromones, and the smell can be quite strong when in large numbers. Should you find your bedroom smelling like a dirty locker room, you may want to perform an inspection."
"When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places," says the EPA. "Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard."
"You're at risk of bites from bedbugs if you're in places where people come and go often, such as apartment buildings, dorm rooms, homeless shelters, hotels, cruise ships, trains, buses and refugee camps," the Mayo Clinic says.