Updated: October 27, 2021

Experiencing bed bugs is nothing short of a nightmare.

Not only are bed bugs difficult to get rid of…

But they are hard to spot as well.

These insects hide during the day, and only come out to feed at night.

If not detected early they can spread throughout your home in a matter of months. 

Bed Bug Signs

One of the keys to preventing a full-scale bed bug infestation is to identify critical signs that suggest the presence of these insects in your home. 

Here are 11 early signs that could indicate you have bed bugs.

  1. Skin Irritation
  2. Brown spots 
  3. Bloodstains
  4. Dead insects
  5. Musty scent
  6. Red bumps or welts
  7. Disturbed sleep
  8. Adverse skin reactions
  9. Pet behavior
  10. The presence of Nymphs or eggs
  11. Active adult bed bugs 

Skin Irritation

If you wake up in the morning and experience an itchy sensation in areas that didn’t exist before you went to sleep…

This could indicate that bed bugs are present.

Bed bugs are more likely to bite areas of the upper body, where your skin is more naturally exposed when sleeping. 

This skin irritation could feel like mild itchiness to severe aggravation that can sometimes result in a burning sensation. 

Brown Spots

If you see dark or rust-colored spots on your mattress, bedsheets, clothing, or walls…

You likely have an infestation.

These could either be the result of bed bug feces or exoskeletons from bed bug molted skin.

If you notice clusters of brown spots on any part of your furniture you should proceed with a thorough search to see if any active bed bugs are present. 


Often times when bed bugs feed, they don’t do a great job of cleaning up after themselves.

Therefore, if you’re receiving bites regularly…

You may see little drops of blood on your sheets, pillowcases or blankets.

Bloodstains can also occur if bed bugs are inadvertently crushed from being stepped on or if you roll over onto a bed bug (that was engorged from a recent meal) in your sleep. 

Interesting Fact – Bed Bugs can baloon up to 3 times their original size after a feeding. 

Dead Insects

If you’re undergoing some precautionary DIY treatment methods..

You may see some dead insects around your home.

Whether it be due to rubbing alcohol or diatomaceous earth, sick bugs may come out in the open before they die. 

This is why you’re more likely to see dead bed bugs around your home during the day rather than live bed bugs (who are usually in hiding). 

Musty Smell

Bed bugs emit a sort of unsettling sweet smell from glands within their bodies.

This smell is actually how bed bugs communicate.

(Through a  chemical called Histamine)

People often describe the smell as a mix between coriander and an old locker room.

Red Bumps or Welts 

If you’re waking up in the morning suffering from bites on your body…

You’re likely experiencing some sort of insect infestation.

Bed bug bites typically occur in clusters around the upper body.

Many different species of insects can bite, so it’s important that you appropriately diagnose your insect bites before undergoing treatment. 

Luckily, we wrote an article all about what bed bug bites look like

(and how to differentiate them from other insect bites).

Disturbed Sleep

If you find yourself waking up multiple times in the middle of the night, it could be a symptom of bed bugs.

You might unknowingly feel slight movement on your skin or quick instances of itching/burning.

Since bed bugs primarily feed at night, they could absolutely interrupt your sleep.

And in severe cases…

Cause long-term psychological problems.

Adverse Skin Reactions

Bed bugs usually come in the form of red welts, but if you have sensitive skin…

You may react in a different way.

In rare cases, bed bugs can cause allergic reactions, hives, or even blisters.

Pet Behavior 

Bed bugs tend to prefer humans, because they’re easier to bite over a furry pet.

There are cases however…

Where bed bugs can infest your pets and cause significant irritation.

Keep in mind that…

If you suspect your pet has insects on them it’s usually fleas, but they may also experience bed bugs as well.

Nymphs or Eggs

In moderate to severe infestations…

You will find bed bugs in all life stages. This can be in the form of eggs that are scattered around your home. 

Bed bug eggs look like tiny translucent orbs that stick to the surface they were laid on. 

You may also notice baby bed bugs that are crawling around looking to feed.

Interesting Fact – Female Bed Bugs can lay up to 5 eggs per day, and over 500 eggs in their lifetime!

Adult Bed Bugs

This is the most common and of course most obvious way of identifying an infestation.

Seeing actual bed bugs in your bedroom or around your home is a clear signal that you have a big problem on your hands.

How To Check For Bed Bugs

Any one of the above signs indicates an existing or potential infestation.

If you believe an infestation is present in your home or hotel room…

One of the first steps to take is to remove all bedding and carefully examine it for these signs.

You should remove the mattress and box spring to thoroughly inspect all seams in the wood framing.

Then you can peel back the fabric stapled to the wood frame and check it for evidence of bed bugs.

You should also check other areas around your home.

These include:

  • Inside nearby appliances.
  • Along carpeting.
  • Under furniture.
  • Along baseboards.
  • Behind wall hangings.
  • In your closet.
  • Around dirty laundry.

Also check any other dark areas where these pests are likely to hide.

If you are having trouble locating bed bugs but still suspect an infestation, consider calling a professional for a proper inspection.

If you live in an apartment…

It may be the landlord’s responsibility to schedule an inspection.

For more information learn about the landlord-tenant duties when it comes to bed bugs.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

If you identify bed bugs or evidence of their presence, it’s important to take steps to eliminate them.

You can accomplish this by cleaning all bedding, linens, and other fabrics that might be infested using hot water and the highest dryer settings.

Other DIY steps include:

  • Brushes to scrub the seams of the mattress.
  • Vacuuming around the bed.
  • Sealed mattress cover.
  • Repairing any cracks in your walls.

For severe infestations:

You should consider a professional heat treatment to fully eradicate bed bugs in one session.

Knowing the signs to look for and how to eliminate bed bugs can help keep you and your family safe.

Either while at home or during your travels.


Below is an infographic summarizing the signs of a bed bug infestation that we went over in this article. 

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Date Published: 2021-10-25

Written By Robert Brown

I'm a seasoned pest control veteran. I focus my time on writing educational content about the industry and helping people learn about indoor insects. When I'm not thinking about bed bugs I am spending time with my daughters or walking the dog.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Luke Smith

    It’s nice that you pointed out how you may see drops of blood on your sheets, pillowcases, or blankets when you receive bed bug bites regularly. We noticed some blood spots on our bed lately and it has alarmed us quite a bit. The blood spots are likely due to bed bugs so we should definitely call for bed bug control services and ask for their assistance.

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