Symptoms of a Bed Bug Infestation

27 May 0

Not many things are as creepy as a blood-sucking parasite attacking while you sleep. Bed bugs are here to stay and they are NOT an indication of poor hygiene or housekeeping. They hitch rides on unsuspecting victims from anywhere and end up in homes to wreak havoc. You may want to check out for more.

These resurging pests have two mouth parts – one is used to inject an anti-coagulant and an anesthetic into their victim so that the second mouth part can be injected to suck blood. When people say they have ‘bites’ they are actually an allergic reaction to the anesthetic. Yet 30% of people are non-reactive to the anesthetic so you could have bed bugs and NOT EVEN KNOW IT!

Signs on a mattress are small but distinct. When these pests crawl, they excrete waste which leads to tiny, thin trails or dots of digested blood. It appears on a mattress or pillow as though a person had a small scrape and unknowingly brushed the injury across the mattress. The greater the infestation, the greater the smears and once they pile on top of each other will be quite obvious. These creatures are nocturnal, hate light and are experts at hiding so they tend to hide along folds and edges of the mattress so look for marks in that vicinity. The dots and streaks can also be seen on walls, by entrances to hiding spaces like electrical outlets and behind switch plates. Other favorite hiding spots are lamp fixtures, inside pillow cases, and in bed frames.

The life cycle starts hatching out of eggs and tn molting through several nymph stages before reaching adulthood. The molted shells left behind are tiny, clear, debris about the size of half a grain of rice. If there are multiple groupings of these shells, the infestation is pretty established.

If a person is reactive to the anesthetic, small red bumps will appear on the skin that are often grouped together. There is an old adage that bed bugs leave three dots in a row for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are typically concentrated in one body area because bed bugs tend to congregate and go to the closest food source. These bumps will itch, some form a pustule and they can fester and become infected.

Another symptom is consistently poor sleep over a period of time. The crawling and injecting can disturb sleep for many but not necessarily to the point of waking up. Other victims can wake up and not know why. Over a period of time, lack of adequate sleep can create restlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, and depression. If a pattern of disrupted sleep appears, thoroughly inspect to rule out an infestation as a cause.

If a population is established, they emit a distinct odor. Trained dogs sniff out bed bugs by this odor. However, beware of using trained dogs as the definitive opinion because the odor can linger and yield false positives. Extreme infestations are obvious and in the interest of being helpful as opposed to gruesome, know that if a bed bug is witnessed in plain sight in broad daylight, there are many more lurking in the small gaps and crevices.

The best defenses against this epidemic are diligence and keen observations. One small streak does not mean an infestation is present, it means there is an unwanted visitor and the sooner the better to deal with it. It is worth the effort to periodically inspect surroundings to make sure you and loved ones are not victims – especially in the most vulnerable state of sleep.