Waking up to an arm full of bed bug bites can feel like a bit of a nightmare. 

Knowing how to check for bed bugs is the first step to identifying an infestation and treating one promptly. 

This guide will teach you how to scout out their favorite hangouts and recognize the early signs of an invasion—think tiny dark spots on sheets or a subtle sweet scent lingering around your bedroom.

This isn’t just about getting rid of itch-inducing bites; it’s also about protecting your home from a full-blown bug infestation. So let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into where these buggers hide and what telltale marks they leave behind.

Signs of Bed Bugs

If you wake up with itchy red bites or spot a musty odor lingering in your bedroom, it’s time to play detective because these clues might point to uninvited guests: bed bugs. These pesky critters are masters at playing hide-and-seek, but they do leave behind some telltale signs.

Some common telltale signs of bed bugs include:

  • Bug bites on your skin
  • Blood stains on your sheet
  • A musty odor that is inexplicable
  • Cast skins or shells in your bedding
  • Black smear marks on linens, furniture, or walls 

Understanding these signs will help you determine if you are dealing with a bed bug infestation or not. However, spotting bed bugs is not as easy as it looks, so it’s important to know how to look for bed bugs to identify an infestation [Learn More: How Bed Bugs Make Their Way Into Your Home].  

How to Identify Bed Bugs

First, it pays to know what bed bugs look like across their different life stages. 

Adult bed bugs have reddish-brown, oval-shaped bodies and can really flatten themselves out—think of an apple seed playing hide-and-seek in plain sight. They are about a quarter-inch long, so they’re not invisible but still hard to spot with the naked eye.

Identifying young bed bugs, called nymphs, is harder as they start off smaller and lighter—almost transparent—and get darker as they munch away over time. Bed bug eggs tend to resemble white or pearl-colored dots that could number in the hundreds. 

Since bed bugs are most active at night, it will be easier to spot them during this time. 

Where to Start? Inspecting Your Bedroom

To start checking for bed bugs, strip down your bedding and give those sheets a good once-over. Look out for tiny blood stains or black spots that could be bug fecal matter—gross but true signs of live bed bugs. 

Now grab a flashlight and examine every inch of your mattress, paying special attention to seams where early signs like small translucent bed bug eggs might hide out. Don’t forget the box spring; they love squeezing into those crevices, too.

Next, tackle the rest of your room with gusto. Picture frames? Yep—bed bugs see them as prime real estate because people sleep nearby. Peek behind each one carefully and keep an eye out for any dark brown critters trying to stay incognito—they’ve got flat bodies perfect for hiding out in thin gaps just like credit cards slide into wallets.

Checking Common Hiding Spots

Moving beyond the cozy confines of your sleeping space, you’ll need to inspect hard-to-reach areas like wall trim and electrical outlets. 

Unscrew and peel back anything on your walls that will give you a peak behind them. 

Furniture isn’t safe either; upholstered chairs and sofas with soft surfaces make good hiding places (and breeding grounds), too. Check along carpet edges or within dark crevices where reddish-brown adult invaders might lurk undetected.

Remember one thing—if things look suspect or feel overwhelming, always consider reaching out to an exterminator. A professional from Pest Czar will know exactly where to look, what action to take, and how to get rid of bed bugs immediately. 

How to Check for Bed Bugs

For homeowners, checking the common hiding places we listed with a flashlight should suffice. Try running a credit card along thin crevices where bed bugs tend to hide to see if you can spot a few that are visible in plain sight. 

Your local exterminator will have a number of different methods to check for bed bugs, including using flashlights and even man’s best friend–dogs. For this reason, it’s always keen to call your local exterminator at the first sign of a bed bug as they could be hiding in places you do not even realize. 

For bed bug protection in Maryland and the Baltimore metro, be sure to contact Pest Czar and ask about our Czar Guard packages that protect against bed bugs and over 40 different species of pests. 

FAQs: How to Check for Bed Bugs

How can I test myself for bed bugs?

To self-test, check your body for itchy red bites and inspect sleeping areas for live bugs or tiny bloodstains.

Can you see bed bugs with the naked eye?

You bet. Adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye but might be tough to spot due to their size.

Will it be obvious if I have bed bugs?

An infestation isn’t always clear-cut; look closely for subtle signs like shed skins, fecal spots, and a musty odor.

How do I check my mattress for bed bugs?

Pull back sheets and scan seams, tags, and crevices of your mattress thoroughly—bed bug hideouts tend to cluster there.