Bed bugs are hitchhiking pests that feed on blood and hide in and around places where people sleep or lounge. They leave numerous bites on the skin, and they are hard to get rid of when they take root in Orange county homes. The main reason bed bugs are hard to get rid of is that residents lack an understanding of how these pests behave. Today, we hope to help you avoid going down the long road of failed bed bug control, which will only prolong your infestation and misery. We'll look at how to check for bed bugs, how bed bugs get into homes, the connection between dogs and cats and bed bug control, and what works to get rid of bed bugs. If you're already dealing with a bed bug infestation and you want professional bed bug pest control in Orange County, jump to our contact page for assistance. We can guide you in the right direction.   

Signs That I Have A Bed Bug Problem

The first step in dealing with bed bugs is determining that you have bed bugs. Really? Yes, really. Bed bugs have become so notorious that people think they have bed bugs any time they have a bumpy rash that they can't explain. Fortunately, there are ways to tell. Let's look at the places bed bugs hide, how to find bed bugs during the day, and how to identify bed bugs when you find them.

Warning Signs: Bed bugs provide several warning signs. You may see these on sheets, pillowcases, bedding, furniture, baseboards, and other surfaces. You may also find them in the places where bed bugs hide. We'll get to that part in a moment. First, let's discuss what you're looking for.

  • Black stains. These are caused by bed bug fecal matter. They leave their waste in many places.
  • Brown stains. Bed bugs excrete blood—typically in the early evening. When you find the stains in the morning or some time during the next day, they'll look tan or brown. They may also have some black coloration mixed in.
  • Skins. Bed bugs shed their skins several times as they develop from immature nymphs to adults. These skins are yellowish. They're also tiny, as bed bugs are less than five millimeters long.
  • White eggs. Bed bugs lay their eggs in tight spaces. You may uncover these eggs during your inspections. They are about 1mm long and white.
  • Pheromones. Bed bugs have a smell. The scent is described in many ways. The most common description is that bed bugs smell like a locker room towel. 

You may find these signs in obvious places but most of the time you'll need to probe for them. You'll need to grab a butter knifer or credit card and a flashlight for your inspection. 

Hiding Places: Bed bugs have an aversion to light. You won't find them walking around any areas with more than a dim light source. You also won't find them walking around in general. They prefer tight spaces and will squeeze into every gap and crack they find. Here are a few specific examples of where bed bugs hide:

  • Bed bugs hide in the seams of mattresses and box springs. You can have dozens in your mattress and not see a single bug.
  • Bed bugs hide under labels on mattresses and box springs. You'll need to slide your probing tool underneath and shine light in there to see them.
  • Bed bugs hide in the gaps around grommets and vents on mattresses.
  • Bed bugs hide in every recess and gap in a bed frame and box spring. You'll need to break your bed down, turn it over, and examine every recess.
  • Bed bugs will tuck themselves under the feet of beds and bed stands.
  • Bed bugs get behind baseboards, in wall outlets, and behind crown molding. Inspect these for black streaks to track bed bug activity.
  • Bed bugs get into couches, living room chairs, and gaming chairs. Inspect every compressed space.

When you find an insect, it might not be a bed bug. Just because you have a bug in your bed doesn't mean it is a bed bug.    

Identification: You have likely seen bed bugs on the news, or images of bed bugs on the internet. They are reddish-brown, apple seed-shaped insects, with six legs and horizontal crease marks. But they don't always look like this.

  • Immature nymphs are 1mm long and pale in coloration.
  • An immature nymph that has had a recent blood meal will appear bright red.
  • A nymph that has digested a meal will have black coloration in the abdomen.
  • A maturing nymph is tan and may appear more red or black depending on whether or not it has fed recently.
  • Adult bed bugs are less than 5mm in length. That is really small. At that size, it is hard to see the characteristics that help you to identify them as bed bugs.
  • Adult bed bugs may appear black, depending on the lighting and when they last fed.

Once you find bed bugs and properly identify them, you'll know that your bites are bed bug bites. Are bed bug bites dangerous? No. Not especially. But it is not good to allow bed bugs to continue to bite you because it can lead to anemia. We don't imagine you would allow them to bite you over and over, but bite exposure is prolonged by improper bed bug control. Since that is the topic of this article, it is essential to point this out. 

bed bug crawling on hair

How Do Bed Bug Infestations Start?

As you work to get rid of bed bugs, you must consider how they got in. If you don't, they may keep getting in, even as you work hard to get them out. We're sure you know that you can get bed bugs from a motel or hotel. This is common knowledge. But you may not know that people pick bed bugs up in many places, some of them unexpected. Here are a few examples:

  • A taxi cab. Yup. The passenger before you could have a bed bug infestation at home and not realize they're spreading bed bugs around as they travel. Bed bug infestations have been uncovered in the tight spaces within taxi cab seats.
  • Movie theaters. While you're eating your popcorn, bed bugs could be eating you. These insects can feed during the day. All they need is darkness.
  • Libraries. Bed bugs lay their eggs in tight spaces near beds. Since many people like to read in bed, hardback books are sometimes used by bed bugs as a breeding location. These books are brought to the library, and the eggs hatch into an infestation. If they make it all the way to another home before they hatch, that is where the infestation will take root.
  • Daycare. Bed bugs can infest a home for weeks before they're detected. During that time, one family can share those bugs with another without realizing it.
  • Work. It doesn't matter where you work. There is a potential to get bed bugs from a co-worker, particularly if you store your clothes or bags near theirs.
  • Neighbors. Bed bugs get into wall voids and pass from one apartment to another. If you live in an apartment or multifamily unit, keep this in mind.

Consider these and other ways you may have gotten bed bugs as you work to address your infestation. You need to stop those bugs as you work to eliminate them in your home.

Will Bed Bugs Infest The Pets Inside My Home?

Dogs and cats play a role in flea and tick infestations. You may know that bed bugs are parasites and think that you must do something to treat your pets. The good news is that you don't. Bed bugs don't take a host animal. They bite and then return to hiding. They also prefer humans because they cannot easily crawl around on hairy and furry animals.  

What Should I Do To Annihilate The Bed Bugs In My Orange County Home?

DIY bed bug control is sometimes simple. Keep a vacuum at hand as you search for them in tight spaces in and around beds and furniture. When you see them, suck them up. Use the crack and crevice attachment to get the bugs out of seams and pockets. Along with this, wash your clothing and bedding in hot, soapy water and run your wash through a dryer cycle to destroy bed bugs in all stages of development. 

If you continue to see bed bugs after taking these steps, it is best to contact a licensed pest professional. Bed bugs are extremely difficult to treat once they've spread inside a structure. Licensed technicians have training and experience dealing with these elusive pests.

Are you in Orange County? If so, reach out to HomeShield Pest Control for assistance. We use industry-leading control solutions to address many common pests in our region, including bed bugs. You don't have to let the bed bugs bite. We have the solution. Connect with us today to schedule service. We're here to help.