How do I know if I have bed bugs?
This is a tough one. It can be hard to tell if you've got them or not, because they are pretty small, only come out for very short periods, and because they are pretty good at hiding. First off, you should look for some key signs.
1) Waste - Bed bugs create a lot of waste, and that is harder to hide than they are. It can consist of dark spots on your mattress (which can be blood, feces, etc.) or of shed skins, eggs, dead bed bugs, etc. You may find it inside your mattress, in the box springs, or in the linens. It looks like this:
2) Bites - You should be seeing little red bites on you without really knowing why. People rarely catch bed bugs in the act - they come out when you are asleep, and only bite for a short period. Also, like many bugs, you cannot feel the bite until a few minutes after it happens. The bites are very hard to identify - most doctors actually can't tell you for sure what they're from just by looking at them. There are a few examples here, here, here, and here.
3) Hiding places - Look in all the key spots where they could hide. This means the mattress and around it, folds in the linens, curtains, and nearby furniture. Look for the waste or dark spots. You probably won't see live ones, but they look like little mini-cockroaches.
4) Catch them in the act - Keep a flashlight by your bed, and turn it on about an hour before dawn and watch the sheets closely for movement. Bed bugs usually bite around then, but if you get up or move too much they will go back into hiding. This can be hard to do - if you've only got a few of them, they only need to come out once a week or so anyway, so you might get unlucky and not see any, even though you have them.
5) Carpet tape - This is a great way to do it. Get some double-sided carpet tape (it's tape designed to keep rugs stuck to the floor) and lay out strips around your bed, and on the sides of the mattress but where you won't run into it when you sleep. Leave it out for a few days. If you've got bedbugs, it's likely that at least a couple of them will get stuck on it. You can buy it online here.
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