How to inspect for bed bugs

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) feast on the blood of mammals. They are small, wingless insects with a flat body that is ideal for hiding in small places called harbourages. Human blood is the bed bug’s favourite food but they enjoy feasting on the blood of pets and rodents. The bed bug is primarily active at night.  During the day, the bed bugs hide in cracks in furniture and skirting boards. Bed bugs are difficult to track down. The following narrative will give you tips on how to inspect your home for evidence of bed bug activity.

How to inspect for bed bugs: distribution and habitat

Bedbugs are found worldwide. They occur throughout towns and cities but they are most commonly found in densely populated inner city areas.  Bed bugs have become increasingly prevalent in hotels and hostels.

In the 1940’s, bed bugs were close to eradication in developed countries. The recent resurgence in bed bug numbers has been attributed to increased rates of migration, international travel, changes in pest control practices and insecticide resistance. In addition, the widespread introduction of central heating has extended the limit of bed bug distribution into areas with colder climates. Consequently, it has become increasingly important to inspect your home for bug activity.

The life cycle and biology of bed bugs; keys to inspection

Bed bugs follow the egg – nymph – adult life cycle. The female produces up to 200 eggs. The eggs will hatch when the atmospheric temperature reaches a consistent 13 degrees celsius and above. The resultant nymphs will take an average of four months to develop. A mature bed bug can live for several months without feeding. However, when they have the opportunity to feed the bugs can ingest eight times their own body weight in blood.

Keys to bed bug inspection: evidence of a bed bug infestation

A variety of clues will help you successfully inspect your house for bed bug activity. Bed bugs have a distinctive smell. At low levels of infestation, the smell is said to resemble that of coriander. Hence, the bed bug was once called the coriander bug. The odour is quickly identified by the professionals from

The adult bed bug is about the size and shape of an apple seed. Additional physical evidence includes blood spatters and brown fecal matter.

Bed bugs cannot fly or jump but they are quick crawlers and they can spread throughout a house. Furthermore, bed bugs can move from place to place by hitching a ride on a host. 

Interactions with humans

Bed bugs have not been identified as carriers of disease. However, their bites cause irritation, moreover, in some cases the bites may cause an allergic reaction. Medical advice for treating bug bites includes:

  1. Treat itching and swelling with a cool damp cloth.
  2. Clean the affected area.
  3. Avoid infection by not scratching the bites.
  4. After seeking medical advice use a mild steroid cream.
  5. Treat any irritation and itching with antihistamines.

However, bed bug bites will clear up on their own after a few days. 

Prevention of bedbug infestations

Simple prevention techniques can help minimise the need to regularly inspect for bed bugs:


  • Clean your mattress using a steam cleaner. Super heated low moisture steam is ideal for sanitising mattresses and soft furnishings. A high quality steam cleaner will remove bed bugs and dust mites. In addition, stains from bodily fluids will be cleaned and the quality of the homeowners sleep will be improved.  This cleaning process should be repeated every two to three months. Allow your mattress to air and fully dry outside, ideally in sunlight, as ultraviolet light will aid the cleaning process.
  • Washed used clothing and dry in a tumble drier using a high setting.
  • Clean and vacuum regularly. Bed bugs are found in both clean and dirty environments, but regular cleaning will help with early detection.

Other prevention techniques

  • Avoid buying second hand furniture and soft furnishings.
  • On arrival, check your holiday accommodation.
  • Have an expert from check out a new home before moving in. 
  • Declutter your bedroom.
  • Replace your mattress regularly.
  • Use protective covers on mattresses.
  • Use scented water around your house. Spray luggage and outerwear before and during stays in holiday accommodation. Essential oils that repel bugs include clove, lemongrass, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus.

Inspection and control by the homeowner

The homeowner can successfully inspect for bed bugs.

However, once discovered, this is not the kind of infestation that should be dealt with by the homeowner.

Steps can be taken to help prepare your home for the pest control expert:

  • Dispose of magazines and newspapers.
  • Remove clothing.
  • Remove any storage boxes.
  • Move your bed at least one metre away from the walls.

Professional bedbug inspection and infestation control technicians will inspect your homes for bed bug activity. Additionally, they will assess the scope of the infestation in conjunction with the homeowner. Thoroughness is the key because of the ability of the bugs to hide away in harbourages. Firstly, dispose of, or heat sterilise, bedding, soft furnishings and mattresses. The whole structure of a room will then have to be treated with a broad spectrum residual insecticide. The technicians will focus on bed frames, skirting boards, switches and any cracks in the walls and flooring. In addition, there may be a need for repeat treatments, as studies have shown that some populations of bed bugs are insecticide resistant. 

Finally, any possible harbourages should be treated with a residual crevice insecticide and sealed.

[rev_slider alias=”bugspatrol-slider-1″ slidertitle=”bugspatrol-slider-1″][/rev_slider]