This probably isn’t the answer you wanted when you opened this page, but the short answer is: you can’t, not without professional help.
Bed bugs have evolved to be perfectly adapted to staying out of sight, which is what’s allowed them to thrive in such numbers. Their original prey was birds and bats, but as our homes got warmer they found the perfect place to make their nests, with a constant supply of blood: our beds.
Bed bugs have a number of adaptations that make them almost impossible to detect.
Firstly, they only come out at night. They’re attracted to carbon dioxide, which releases in a steady steam as we sleep. Once the carbon dioxide reaches a concentration in the air that tells them that we’re asleep, they crawl out of their hiding places and follow the CO2 to its source. This is why bedbug bites are usually found on the upper body.
Secondly, they have flat bodies that can squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices in furniture and into the seams of mattresses and cushions. This makes them difficult or even impossible to find and allows them to remain next to their host without being found and squashed.
Bed bugs may be difficult to find, but they do leave some evidence if you know what to look for.
First, of course, are the bites. There is no set appearance of a bed bug bite because everyone reacts differently to them, with some people barely being affected while others develop irritating and even dangerous rashes.
The consistent feature of bed bug bites is that they’re in clusters of three or four, occur when you’re asleep and are found on the upper body around the shoulders, neck and head.
Next is spotting, which are bedbug droppings found around their nests on in trails where they move. They’re only about the size of a pinhead and are black from the iron in the blood they feed on. If you wet and smudge them, they reveal a rust-red colour.
Finally, and rarely, you might see the bedbugs themselves. The eggs and hatchlings are white and almost impossible to spot, but the adults have oval, flat, reddish-brown bodies between 4-5mm long. They also give off an odour, often described as rotten raspberries.
Once you’re infested, you need professional treatment, but there are some good habits you can follow to reduce your risk of infestation or making it worse.
If you’ve returned from a holiday, wash all your clothes immediately on a hot wash or blast them in a clothes drier to kill any bed bugs that might have hitched a ride. Bed bugs can only survive for an hour at 45 degrees and two minutes over 50 degrees.
You should also avoid buying second hand furniture as bedbugs may be hiding inside, especially mattresses and bed frames. If you must buy second hand, thoroughly inspect the furniture for any cracks and crevices that may provide bed bugs with a hiding place.
Finally, don’t disturb their hiding place. If you’ve found bedbugs, you might be tempted to blast them with insecticides or try and manually remove them. While this might satisfy your need for vengeance, all it’s going to achieve in the long run is spread out their population, who’ll find new hiding places and make life more difficult for your pest controllers.
If you think you have bedbugs, get straight on the phone with us; don’t try and sort them out yourself because you’re more likely to make it worse in the long run.
Our first step is a thorough site inspection. We’ve been wiping out bed bugs for more than 20 years, so we know how to spot even the most microscopic evidence of a bed bug infestation. To the untrained eye, beg bugs may be confused with booklice or carpet beetles.
Once we’ve confirmed a bed bug infestation and are confident that we’ve found all their nests, we devise a treatment plan based on your site and the objects that have been infested.
The tools at our disposal are fumigation, residual pesticides, direct application of insecticides and mobile heat treatment. Usually, you’ll require a combination of treatments.
Most importantly, complete extermination can only be achieved with at least three visits spread apart to kill bedbugs at every stage of their lifecycle.
A pest controller offering to do it on the cheap with just one treatment might provide you with temporary relief, but within a few weeks or months their population will have replenished and the infestation will be back to previous levels or worse.
If you want to get rid of your bedbugs for good, don’t leave it up to a cowboy who’ll take your money without caring if you get reinfested. We’re a family-run company with a walk-in Fulham office and over 20 years’ experience providing pest control for homes and businesses or every variety across London.