Discovering where bed bugs are hiding and identifying them is not always easy. Often the first sign of bed bug problems are the bites that appear. Adult bed bugs are 4-5mm long. Before feeding they are a flattened oval shape and light brown, but become rounder and a darker reddish brown after feeding.
They come out mostly at night and are attracted to the warmth of our bodies and carbon dioxide from our breath. Bed bugs are usually found in bedroom areas but hide away in cracks and crevices during the day.
The most common shelters for bedbugs are in the seams of mattresses, in crevices in the bed frame, behind furniture surrounding the bed (especially the headboard) or where the wall meets the floor. Bedbugs can also be found in bedding (pillows, sheets, duvets, blankets), carpets, underlay, under skirting boards, between timber floorboards, even inside electrical sockets and fittings.
A more established infestation of bedbugs is associated with dark or black staining of the mattress and surrounding area from bedbug excreta. When bedbugs become well established they are also associated with an unpleasant, sweet & sickly scent that they secrete.
It is difficult to identify bedbugs just from their bite because our bodies can react very differently to them.
Some people have no reaction, whilst others can have minor swelling and itching. There are however, a proportion of people who react very badly to bed bug bites. In general most people will respond to a bed bug bite worse than one from a mosquito.
It is far more important to look at the overall pattern and timing of bites and other factors to identify whether they are bed bug bites.
The information and bed bug bite pictures shown will help you identify if you have bedbugs in your home. Please take a look at our guide to insects that bite for advice on other insects that may be the cause of bites.
Bedbug bites are unlikely to wake the victim, as the bedbug injects an anaesthetic whilst drawing the blood from its host.
These bites can occur anywhere on the body but are often close to blood vessels near the skin. The neck, hands, arms and legs are common sites for bed bug bites.
A single bedbug may bite more than once in the same area, if disturbed whilst feeding. There is also a tendency to find several bites in a line or row along an exposed area, such as an arm or leg. However, bites in different parts of the body can indicate being bitten by several different bedbugs.
Early on with bed bug bites, the victim may not yet be sensitised to the bites and they may not feel itchy. However, small droplets of blood on the bed sheets will indicate the presence of bedbugs. This blood spotting occurs when the bedbug has completed its feed.