Imagine this scenario. You’re home, puttering around the house, when you notice something out of the corner of your eye. It’s just an odd little speck on the duvet, probably nothing more than a bit of fluff. You just need to reach out and brush it away.
But when you take a closer look you are stopped dead in your tracks. It looks like a bed bug. Yep. You’ve just found a lone bed bug in your home. The question is, “what do you do now?”
First things First– Don’t Panic
Naturally, finding a bed bug on your mattress is going to cause your blood pressure to rise. But take a deep breath and stay calm. Yes, finding a bed bug in your home is worrying, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on track for a full-scale invasion.
It could easily be a single stray bed bug, picked up somewhere along your travels and inadvertently tracked into the home. It happens more often than you might think, and it doesn’t always end in a massive disruption to your life and finances.
So, before you get too stressed out there are a couple of important questions to answer.
Is It Definitely a Bed Bug?
Before you get too far ahead of yourself you need to be sure that what you have found is actually a bed bug. The good news is that there are a number of household insects (carpet beetles, book louses, fleas, etc.) that are often mistaken for bed bugs. A good rule of thumb to follow is ‘if the insect has wings it’s not a bed bug’. If it doesn’t have wings you’ll take a closer look at what you’ve found.
An adult bed bug will be roughly the size of an apple seed. If it has recently fed, its body will have a balloon-like shape and it will be predominantly reddish-brown in color. If it hasn’t had a recent meal its body will appear longer and oval-shaped and its coloring will tend towards a darker brown.
If you have a found a baby bed bug, or a nymph, the body will be translucent or whitish-yellow in color. Again, if it has recently fed it will appear somewhat bloated. The size of the nymph is largely determined by the number of times, and how recently, it has fed.
Is the Bed Bug Alive or Dead?
The next question to ask yourself is whether or not the bed bug was a live when you found it. If it was dead, and you haven’t noticed any bites on your or your family, there is a good chance you’ve dodged a bullet.
However, if the bed bug was alive when you found it there is a fair chance it was not alone. That means you have at least a 50/50 chance that there are more bed bugs in your home. If the bug you have found is a female those odds increase exponentially. Even if it was a stray female bed bug the odds are good that she may have been pregnant, and she may have had time to lay her eggs and spawn a small colony of bed bugs.
Inspect the Surrounding Area
If you believe you have found a bed bug in your home the next step is to perform basic bed bug inspection. To begin your search, start with the bed. Strip off the sheets and carefully inspect the mattress. Give special attention to the seams, as it’s a prime hiding place for bed bugs.
After you’ve inspected the mattress, look to the bedspring, frame, and headboard. You will also want to give any furniture in the room a good once over as well. Check the drawers of your nightstand and bureau, along with any crevices that might work as hiding places for crafty bed bugs. You should also inspect any chairs that you may have in your bedroom, being particularly thorough with any upholstered furniture.
Check for Common Signs of Bed Bugs
In addition to searching for live bed bugs you also need to keep an eye out for any of the other telltale signs of bed bug activity. Look for bloodstains on your mattress, typically appearing as dotted trails of dried blood. This is a significant indicator that freshly fed bed bugs are traveling over your mattress. You should also look for dead bed bug, un-hatched eggs, and discarded exoskeletons. These all indicate the presence of a bed bug colony in your home.
For a more in-depth guide to identifying bed bugs in the home please check out “How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs”.
Take Immediate Action if Necessary
If your search turns up nothing of interest, and it appears that the bed bug you found was a lone agent, you may be in the clear. Stay alert over the next few weeks and keep a sharp look out for any signs of bed bugs in the house (not just the bedroom but the whole home). If there are no signs of bed bug activity over the next few weeks you are likely in the clear.
However, if you find any bed bugs during your initial search or over the next few weeks you need to take immediate action. Contact a professional bed bug removal services and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Bed bugs can quickly overrun a home and the sooner you bring in professional help the sooner you can rest easy once again.