Here’s how to know if you have bed bugs, two different ways to kill bed bugs (a homemade bed bug trap and a natural organic spray), and an easy treatment for itchy bed bug bites. The most common sign of bed bugs is bites on your body, which cause itchy welts and often appear in a zigzag pattern.
I thought getting rid of bed bugs involved sprays with toxic chemicals, so I was happy to find several ways to get rid of bed bugs. Below is an easy solution for bed bugs: it’s an easy, homemade, nontoxic bed bug trap on the University of Florida’s website. The bed bug trap will also work on dog or cat beds, and won’t harm your pet’s health.
Also, I found a natural spray that treats bed bugs. Personally, I’d prefer the bed bug spray over the bed bug trap. Whether you spray or use the homemade bed bug trap, make sure you do a thorough vacuum of your bedroom before assuming the bed bugs and their eggs are gone. Bed bugs are actually more psychologically distressing than physically damaging, so at least you don’t have to worry about getting sick from bed bug bites! But, before you worry about getting rid of bed bugs, let’s find out if you actually have them…
4 Signs of Bed Bugs
You probably have bed bug bites, or you wouldn’t be searching the internet for “signs of bed bugs”! The biggest sign is your own suspicion and thought that you have bed bugs. I also suspect bed bugs are disrupting your sleep. Not to mention your emotional health, because bed bugs can cause extreme anxiety and disrupt sleep.
1. Bites on your body
You don’t see bed bugs on your sheets, pillows, bedding, or mattresses because they’re itty bitty. You might mistake your bed bug bites for spider bites, mosquito bites, or even flea bites. Sometimes people even mistake bed bug bites for skin conditions such as an itchy rash, hives, or chickenpox. Below, I offer a few ways to treat bed bug bites.
Bites from bed bugs don’t usually require serious medical attention, but they can cause a great deal of anxiety and sleepless or restless nights. The next three signs of bed bugs are from dermatologists who are experienced in helping people treat bed bug bites.
If you have a large number of bed bugs, you may see the actual critters on your bedding. Most people, however, only see signs of bed bugs – such as smell and specks of blood.
2. The smell – a less obvious sign of bed bugs
When I was working at Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver, I met my first bed bug sniffing dog. Buddy came in every three months to check out every inch of the building. He even smelled our purses, clothes, and file cabinets in the offices. If he smelled bed bugs, he’d sit down – that was the sign bed bugs were present.
You don’t necessarily need a dog to sniff out bed bugs – you might be able to smell them yourself! Bed bugs give off a sweet, musty smell because they produce chemicals to help them communicate. Not everyone will notice this sign of bed bugs, especially if they’re sniffing their own bedroom.
Go into your bedroom and take a deep sniffy smelly breath. If you notice a sweet, musty smell, you may have a heavy bed bug infestation. If you don’t smell bed bugs, you may only have a couple of critters sleeping with you. Good thing they don’t snore.
3. Tiny black specks – a third sign of bed bugs
The easiest to spot sign of bed bugs is specks of blood on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture such as couches and headboards. Look at your blankets, sheets, and mattress pads. Check the mattress and box spring. Are there specks of blood anywhere, especially near the seams? Bed bugs! Also, if you see tiny blackish specks on the bedding, mattress, headboard, or beneath couch cushions, don’t get too close. It could be bedbug excrement.
4. The final sign: bed bug exoskeletons and eggs
Bed bugs have an outer shell that they shed and leave behind. Do you see shell-like remains on your bedding, mattress, mattress pad, or beneath couch cushions? Those are the exoskeletons of bed bugs.
And, after mating female bed bugs lay white, oval eggs in the cracks and crevices of mattresses and sofa cushions. So gross! These are tiny – a bed bug is only about the size of an apple seed.
If all these signs of bed bugs are keeping you up at night, read Natural Sleep Remedies for Sleepless Nights.
Can you see bed bugs?
You won’t see many bed bugs crawling on your mattresses or bedding – they run and hide really fast. But if you do see a bed bug move, it’ll look like he’s flying or jumping because he can crawl quickly. Bed bugs cannot actually fly or jump; they can only crawl.
Bed Bug Treatment – a Natural Spray
Bed Bug Killer By Gardencense is one of the easiest and most natural ways to get rid of bed bugs. There is no other Bed Bug treatment on the market as natural and effective as this bed bug killer; it’s a blend of 100% effective essential oils.
These ingredients are proven to kill eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs. This spray is better than bed bug traps placed under your bed, but it isn’t a remedy for bed bug bites.
How to Make a Bed Bug Trap
Some people say that pesticides, bug bombs, or sprays don’t get rid of bed bugs. So, below are four easy steps to making a homemade bed bug trap. They’re from a University of Florida entomology professor – and the good news is that this trap for bed bugs costs less than $1 to make.
The bad news is that if you have a three bedroom home, you need to make about 50 bed bug traps and put them all over the house! While I admire people who make bed bug traps at home, I wouldn’t have the patience to make 50 bed bug traps – unless I needed a project to do with my Little Sister or husband.
Me, I’d buy an Insect Trap for Bed Bugs, Spiders, Cockroaches. One package contains 90 traps, and they’re small and unobtrusive. The homemade bed bug trap is a bit big and not too pretty – but if you turn this into a project with your kids, you could make the bed bug traps colorful and creative.
Bed bug traps are more effective than pesticides
According to the University of Florida entomology researchers, many people use incorrect methods to get rid of bed bugs. Don’t use flammable liquids, mothballs, pesticides for treating mattresses, or bed bug bombs. This trap might be your best bet for getting rid of bed bugs – especially if you don’t want to hire a pest control company to spray or fog your bedroom.
Some researchers and entomologists say bed bugs are becoming more resistant to pesticides, exacerbating what is also an expensive problem. Bed bug treatments can run $3,000 for a single-family home or $1,200 for a low-income apartment – something many people can’t afford.
The “Easy” Way to Trap Bed Bugs
Entomologists at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have devised a bed bug trap that can be built with household items. This is especially useful for people who are looking for ways to green their homes (though many bed bug sprays are organic, natural, and ecofriendly).
Materials for a Bed Bug Trap
For a homemade bed bug trap, you need four things (which you probably already have at home):
- Two disposable plastic containers
- Masking tape
The bed bug trap collects the critters when they try to travel between people and the places where bedbugs hide. This concept of trapping bed bugs works for places where people sleep and need to be protected, without spraying toxic chemicals on your bedding and mattresses.
The traps rely on the bed bugs’ poor ability to climb on smooth surfaces. The traps have rough areas to let bed bugs enter easily, and a smooth-surfaced moat that keeps them from escaping.
4 Steps to Making a Trap for Bed Bugs
1. Cut four pieces of rough-surfaced tape. Each piece should be at least as long as the wall of smaller container is tall.
2. Evenly space and firmly press the four pieces of tape vertically on the inside surface of the smaller container. The tape allows the bugs to escape the small container easily and fall into the space between the small and the large container wall, where they are trapped.
3. Wrap tape around the exterior of the larger container from the base to its upper edge so the bed bugs can enter the trap easily.
4. Glue the smaller container onto the center of the bottom of the larger container.
The bed bug trap works best if you apply talc, including baby powder, to the space between the small and large container walls to make it harder for the bugs to escape.
If the following four steps on how to make a bed bug trap don’t make sense to you (they don’t to me!), go to the University of Florida’s article on how to make a bed bug trap. They have an awesome step-by-step video.
How to determine how many bed bug traps you need
The number of traps needed for your house depends on the number of bedroom or places people sleep. These researchers estimate that you’d need about 50 traps for a typical three-bedroom home. You’d need one bed bug trap under each leg of furniture – including chairs, sofas and beds.
According to the bed bug researcher, this trap is foolproof and effective. You can’t mess it up to the point that you’d hurt anything. This homemade bed bug trap has even been called a stunningly easy solution for a vexing national problem.
Because more people tend to travel and relocate during the summer, it’s possible they unknowingly bring bed bugs home or discover them soon after moving, according to the National Pest Management Association. Nearly half of bed bug infestations occur in the summer. That’s why the researchers made this bed bug trap – to help people get rid of the summertime infestations.
If you have bed bugs, consider calling a pest-control company or the property manager if you’re renting. They may have different tips on making bed bug traps – or perhaps they have pre-made ones that don’t cost much money.
What say you about making a bed bug trap?
The only reason I’m not big on homemade bed bug traps is because I don’t enjoy crafty things or home-based projects. Plus, I wouldn’t have enough plastic containers to make 50 or even 10 traps – I don’t save anything! But if I had lots of bed bugs and no money, I would make my own traps.
Source: The bed bug trap is the brainchild of Phil Koehler, an urban entomology professor; Benjamin Hottel, an entomology doctoral student; Rebecca Baldwin, assistant urban entomology professor; and Roberto Pereira, an associate research scientist in the UF entomology and nematology department. “A better bed bug trap: Made from household items for about $1” on the University of Florida website.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites and Itchiness
An article on the signs of bed bugs would not be complete without treatments for bed bug bites!
ArtNaturals Aloe Vera Gel for Face, Hair & Body is one of the best, most soothing bug bite treatments. If your bed bug bites itch, apply a corticosteroid cream to them. You can get a weak form of this medicine without a prescription on Amazon or your local drugstore.
Bed bugs bites can be extremely itchy, so it’s important to treat the itch to prevent scratching. Scratching can cause a skin infection. To treat bed bug bites at home, wash the bites with soap and water. This will help prevent a skin infection and help reduce itchiness.
Stronger corticosteroids for treating serious bed bug bites require a prescription from a doctor or dermatologist. If you have bed bug bites that are infected or blistered – or if you’re experiencing an allergic skin reaction (red skin, swollen bites, or hives) – see a board-certified dermatologist for bed bug treatment.
Bedbug bites usually heal and go away within a week or two.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, read 10 Gifts for Insomniacs and People Who Can’t Sleep.
What say you about bed bug signs or treatments?
I welcome your comments below.
I have to confess – I’ve been tossing and turning in the middle of the night lately, feeling like I have bugs crawling on me. I’m not sure if you can feel bed bugs crawling on you, or if tossing and turning is a sign of a bed bug infestation? I doubt it, because my bed bug research only uncovered the signs I discussed in this article. Maybe my dogs brought fleas to bed. Gross.
“May sleep envelop you as a bed sheet floating gently down, tickling your skin and removing every worry.” – Jeb Dickerson.
Partial Source: How to check for bed bugs from the American Academy of Dermatology.