Bed bugs can have a significant impact on people’s health and quality of life. Knowing how to spot them is, therefore, essential to act quickly to prevent and effectively control bed bug infestations.

Recognizing Bed Bugs and their Eggs

Bed bugs have the following characteristics:

  • They are visible to the naked eye;
  • Adult bed bugs are usually brown. When filled with blood, their colour ranges from red to dark brown;
  • They are oval and about the size of a flattened apple seed, 4 to 7 mm in length;
  • They neither jump nor fly;
  • They move at the speed of an ant;
  • They have a lifespan of 5 to 6 months. However, they can live more than a year without feeding when in a dormant state.

Bed eggs bug eggs have the following characteristics:

  • They are whitish in colour;
  • They are the size of a pinhead;
  • They are laid out in clusters and attached in various small, tight spaces;
  • They hatch about 10 to 14 days after being laid.

Spotting the Presence of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are most active at night. They mainly live in bedrooms. They avoid light, seeking shelter in dark, narrow and inaccessible places. Certain clues can help spot the presence of bed bugs.

Clues on the Skin:


  • Bites similar to those of mosquitoes, which cause itchiness;
  • Bunched or aligned bites that appear on parts of the body not covered during sleeping hours.

Bed bug bites on hand. Source: Oliver Arend—Wikimedia Commons


Clues on the Bed:


  • Small black spots on sheets, mattresses or bedsprings. These spots come from bed bug excrement and the blood they feed on;
  • The presence of live or dead bed bugs, shed skin, or eggs near the sleeper. These traces can be found in the bed or near it.

Group of bed bugs. Source: A.L. Szalanski—Wikimedia Commons

Bed Bug Hiding Places*

At the beginning of an infestation, bed bugs tend to hide near the place they feed, meaning close to the sleeping person they will bite. When the infestation grows, the bed bugs can spread and hide elsewhere in the room.

Here are the main hiding places for bed bugs:

  • Bedsprings, the seams and bottoms of mattresses, and the hems of bedding;
  • Headboards, bedroom furniture, and drawers;
  • Clothing, backpacks, handbags, and suitcases;
  • Chairs, wheelchairs, sofas, and covers;
  • Carpets and curtains;
  • Mouldings and window or door frames;
  • Electrical outlets and behind baseboard heaters;
  • Peeled tapestry, frames, and posters;
  • Cracks in the plaster, wood or floor;
  • Papers, books, telephones, radios and clocks.

Did You Know?

Some people do not react at all to bedbug bites; this is particularly the case with seniors.

Knowing How Bed Bugs Spread

The larger the infestation, the more bed bugs will spread to other rooms in the house and to other residences.

Bed bugs can be found everywhere, even in the cleanest houses and hotels. They can move in very narrow and inaccessible places, such as a gap the thickness of a credit card.

Bed bugs spread:

  • Through close contact with frequently used items such as clothing, handbags, wheelchairs, mattresses, sofas, etc.;
  • When transporting infested items, especial during house moves;
  • Through walls, ceilings and floors, by crawling into pipes, ducts, electric cables or other openings;
  • Through bed sheets, clothing or other fabrics brought to private or public laundry facilities;
  • Through used items bought at flea markets, second-hand stores, and used furniture stores;
  • Through the recuperation of furniture or objects left on the street;
  • During trips, in infested luggage, bags, clothing or sleeping bags.

Preventing Bed Bug Infestation

Here are a few tips to avoid bed bug infestation.

Avoid Clutter
Avoid accumulating stuff and leaving them lying around the house. This way, you will reduce the number of places in which bed bugs can hide.

Inspect All Second-hand Clothing
Be cautious when you get second-hand clothing. Make sure you inspect them carefully. Carry clothes in a sealed bag, in such a way that nothing can enter or leave the container. As soon as you get home, clean the clothes following these tips for Treating Fabrics and Objects.

Inspect All Used Articles
Avoid bringing home used items in bad condition or left on sidewalks, such as mattresses, bedsprings, wood or upholstered furniture. Bed bugs can infest these items.

Should you wish to take one of these used items home, inspect them carefully. Treat them with hot steam by following these steps for Treatment without Washer or Dryer. Place mattresses or bedsprings in an anti-bed bug cover after treatment.

Take Precautions When Travelling
When you go to a hotel, put your suitcases on luggage racks or in the bathtub. Avoid storing your clothes and personal belongings in drawers or placing them on the floor or bed.

If you detect the presence of bed bugs in the room, on your clothes or elsewhere, put all your personal effects in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and keep your stuff in it until you have treated them. To treat your personal effects, follow these tips for Treating Fabrics and Objects.

Inspect Your Luggage After Travelling
Upon your return, place your luggage on a hard surface, such as the bathroom, entrance or garage floor. Inspect your luggage carefully. If you suspect the presence of bed bugs, treat your luggage and its content by following these tips for Treating Fabrics and Objects.


Last update: February 4, 2015, 9:53 AM