Home Bed Bugs Inspection: Part-1

Have you ever wondered that you may have bed bugs in your home?  You are not alone!   The resurgence of bed bug activity and infestations in the home are increasingly on the rise.  Unwittingly, this gregarious pest can be picked up on your clothing or in your purse or briefcase while on the way to the office via taxi-cab or train.  It can also hitch a ride on your child’s back-pack on the way home from school or in your luggage while returning home from vacation.  There are many, many more contributing factors that may lead to your household becoming infested. Please feel free to visit At Home Bed Bug Prevention Part 1 and Part 2 where bed bug awareness tips, prevention guidelines as well as how this pest enters the common household, are covered in more detail.

In this post, I will focus on how to perform a proper bed bug inspection in your home as well as some helpful tips coupled with a few definite No-No’s, to assist you along the way.

Remember, that the first sign of bed bug activity within your home may be signs of a rash, raised red welts or bites on your body. We all react differently to a bed bug bite and the bite itself may go unnoticed for days.   In fact, the red welt or itching sensation that you may be experiencing, may be the result of other insect bites such as fleas or mosquitoes.   Some people have reported that they suffered from bed bug bites and later found that their symptoms were the results of mild soap irritants or poison ivy.   You can find more handy information covering bed bug bites, bed bug rash and their symptoms in How to Treat Bed Bug Bites.   Therefore, by obtaining a sample of this parasite whenever possible is all-important in properly identifying it.  This will greatly assist you and your pest management professional in your home bed bug inspection.  Please see What are Bed Bugs, to assist you in the identification process.

Note: If you suspect that you do indeed have bed bugs within your home, it is advisable to contact a pest control/management professional and schedule a detailed inspection as soon as possible.  You will want to properly vet the individual or company before hiring them.   Examine their credentials and especially their knowledge base in bed bug inspection and treatment methodology of this parasite.   A pest professional well versed in termite protection as an example, may not necessarily have the unique credentials or hands on experience required to properly handle this pest!

Applying a pesticide in this manner almost assuredly is not what the label recommends in its usage and is generally not safe in this type of application.  Especially, around pets (birds and fish are super-sensitive to toxicity levels normally associated with many pesticides), children and the elderly (anyone dependent on a respirator or using oxygen will be hyper-sensitive as well).  This type of a general pesticide application to infested areas, will simply disperse the population of bed bugs to other areas of your home.   Use your sticky tape to collect a specimen and store in one of your zip-lock bags and contact your pest control/management professional for further instruction and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

In the event that you decide to inspect your home yourself,  here are a few helpful tips to get you started on the right track.   Also, you can refresh your knowledge base by viewing Bed Bug Biology and Life Cycle.

Bedroom Inspection:

Remember, this pest will typically harbor in areas readily near their most available blood-meal. The bedroom and all of its furnishings should be the first focus of the inspection. You can expand to other areas of the family dwelling soon thereafter.

  • Inspect all of the seams and corners of the bed mattress (pull back corners and bed skirts to see inside/behind overlapping seams and crevices).
  • Inspect the head board; especially behind it.
  • Inspect nightstands and dresser drawers. (pull out the drawers and inspect inside the rail areas and back sides of the dresser).
  • Inspect the underside seams and all corners of the mattress.
  • Dis-assembly of the bed frame will be required for a thorough inspection of its inside and underside corners, cracks and crevices between metal/wood appendages as well as void areas between headboard and main frame.
  • Inspect inside/underneath the box spring (especially between felt fabric and void areas).
  • Inspect behind all pictures and mirrors.
  • Inspect any and all crack/crevices between carpet seams and adjoining walls (pull back/up edge of carpet ¼ to ½ inch to view underneath carpet edge).
  • Any books or periodicals near the bed and left undisturbed for periods of time, are suspect to bed bug harboring areas.  Thumb through the pages and take particular note to hard-back cover reading materials.  Bed bugs love paper, cardboard and soft-wood/pressed particle board/wicker type-materials to lay their eggs.
  • Inspect any overlap/loose/seam areas of wall paper near the bed.

Electrical Devices and Gadgets: CAUTION & PLEASE BE SAFE! To keep from possible electrical shock, turn off breaker from the breaker panel when using metal tools around any electrical outlets and use your flashlight for viewing in/behind these areas for pests.

  • Inspect inside of bed-side telephones or alarm clocks on nightstands near the bed (remove backside of electrical components and view inside).
  • Remove back panels from T.V.’s (older versions), view back-sides of computer modems and home computer towers near floor or bed for fecal matter or blood-stains.
  • Remove light switch panels/electrical outlet panels and view behind them.

In Home Bed Bug Inspection Part 2, I will focus on other bed bug hot zones within the confines of a typical family dwelling.  You will be provided with time proven guidelines to assist you while performing the pest examination and/or undergoing any treatments.  You will find helpful tips should you discover an infestation within your home, coupled with some common mistakes that need to be avoided.  There will also be an introduction to some very helpful tools to navigate the bed bug inspection process much easier.  These tools can be used passively and will greatly assist you, in keeping your home, bed bug free!

Home Bed Bugs Inspection: Part-2

In Home Bed Bug Inspection Part 1, I supplied you with a list of handy tools that you will need during your home bed bug inspection, where to start the examination and a step-by-step procedure in which to properly complete the tasks at hand. In Part 1, you completed the bedroom inspection, associated furniture and electronics, as well as the soft-furnishings within the confines of the bedroom. In Home Bed Bug Inspection Part 2, you will also need these tools to perform an equal examination throughout other areas of your home. After the arduous task that you have just completed in the bedroom, it would be quite unpleasant to have this pest only migrate back to the bedroom from another area of the home that was not inspected with the same care. An example of this occurrence would be a recently used luggage item, stored nearby in a closet or other storage area that had not been disinfected or inspected before storing away.

While bed bugs are ordinarily found within the bedroom, infestations may also occur in other areas of your home to include bathrooms, storage and clothes closets, the living room and the laundry room. All of these areas will need a thorough examination as well. As in the bedroom, you will want to focus your attention to all cracks and crevices as well as void areas. Your attention should also be focused for signs of dark blood spots/smears that may appear to have a reddish hue, dark brown or black color to them and the size of small apple seeds or slightly larger than a pencil dot. This will be the fecal matter left behind and is mostly composed of digested blood.

Closets/Bathrooms/Living Room/Laundry Room:

Inspect all luggage stored in any storage area to include attics and thoroughly disinfect each piece of luggage between each use. This is very important! It does not matter if it is a back-pack used for a 1 day school trip, a briefcase for a 2 or 3 day business trip or luggage typically utilized for a family vacation. This pest is a excellent hitch-hiker and can be picked up from a variety of places during your daily travels. (Please refer to Home Bed Bug Prevention Part 1 for more details on this subject.)

  • Inspect any and all crack/crevices between carpet seams and adjoining walls.
  • Inspect behind any pictures/wall hangings/storage racks that are attached to the walls of the laundry room, closets or any of the family bathrooms.
  • Inspect behind/inside any electrical outlets that are housed in the walls of these additional rooms. (Use Caution – see Part 1)
  • Inspect behind any overlapping wall-paper seams in any of these rooms.
  • Inspect all curtains/valance and any other soft-furnishings.
  • Inspect all furniture items thoroughly and especially those in which a majority of time may be spent in leisure, reading and/or napping.
  • Inspect behind/between the seams of your ironing board cover, if applicable.
  • Inspect the tracking devices in which a sliding closet door may slide/roll in.

Collect and save any live specimens to record your findings for the pest professional and landlords and school officials, if applicable.

Should you become a victim of any bites or associated rash like symptoms (see How to Treat Bed Bug Bites for more details), contact your physician and utilize the specimen that you collected to rule out the possibility of scabies, mites or other biting insects.

If you know that you have been bitten in your bedroom, then do not relocate to the den, living room or spare bedroom. Even worse, do not move to a friends or other family members home. This will only exacerbate the problem and give this hitch-hiker a free ride to populate other areas.

During the course of the inspection, and assuming that you have correctly identified this pest as a bed bug, you will have to begin disinfecting any and all luggage items as well as beginning the very time consuming chore of laundry. Your Pest Professional will have specifics for you and you will get a good idea of how and where to begin by viewing Home Bed Bug Prevention Part 2.

Do not arbitrarily begin discarding infested items. They may end up at the local boys club, your neighbors kids tree-house or even the Salvation Army. Your Pest Professional should be able to treat any infested objects from within the home and if not, ask him/her where you can safely get rid of them. This small action on your part will go a very long ways in eliminating the possibility of spreading this pest into your neighborhood and community.

Call your Pest Management Professional and show him/her the specimen that you collected. After confirming their credentials and treatment protocols, follow their guidelines to the letter and get going on the elimination phase. In the right environment, bed bugs will re-populate quite aggressively (see Bed Bug Biology and Life-Cycle and What are Bed Bugs).

Most people not accustomed to dealing with this pest will act on their first instincts or a neighbors free advice, to include landlords, and bug-bomb the home. Don’t Do It!!! It will be incredibly tough to resist taking action in this manner. Bug bombs do have their place and this is not one of them. They do wonders on cockroaches in limited environments but will only scatter bed bugs and the main population throughout your home.

The same advice follows for using DIY, off the shelf chemical products, unless you know what you are doing and have “read the label” in its entirety. At times and very dependant upon your situation, your Pest Management Professional may have you assist him/her to supplement their treatment protocol while they are away from your home. The best advise is to follow their advise to the letter and do not deviate from your plan of attack. Take plenty of notes during your visit with your Pest Professional and remember that it will take plenty of teamwork from family members to assist you in this project. This will be a process and definitely not a overnight fix.

Prepare yourself for your first visit with your Pest Professional and have all of your can I/should I/will you type questions written down prior to his/her arrival. Prepare yourself for the long haul in totally eliminating this pest from your household. In some cases and to no fault of your own, it may take a few months to completely eradicate this pest. You may live in an apartment complex or other housing development where you have no control over what takes place outside of your bedroom wall. Dig deep for patience and develop a sound plan of attack with your Pest Management Professional. Stick to the plan in your Home Bed Bug Inspection and you will prevail in eliminating this pest!