When was the last time that you had a Bed Bug Inspection in your home? Or, have you ever wondered if you have bed bugs in your home? You are not alone! The resurgence of bed bug activity and infestations in the home are increasingly on the rise. Unwittingly, this gregarious pest can be picked up on your clothing or in your purse or briefcase while on the way to the office via taxi-cab or train. It can also hitch a ride on your child’s back-pack on the way home from school or in your luggage while returning home from vacation. There are many, many more contributing factors that may lead to your household becoming infested. Please feel free to visit How to Prevent Bed Bugs at Home Part 1 and Part 2, where bed bug awareness tips, prevention guidelines as well as how this pest enters the common household, are covered in more detail.
In this post, I will focus on how to perform a proper Bed Bug Inspection in your home as well as some helpful tips coupled with a few definite No-No’s, to assist you along the way.
Also, please enjoy the short video below for more on How to get going with your Bed Bug Inspection; presented by Jody L. Gangloff-Kaufmann from Cornell University and the Home and Garden Information Center.
Helpful Bed Bug Inspection Tools that you will need
Small zip-lock bags to keep your specimens in for later identification.
A small flashlight (LED type with a narrow adjustable beam and high intensity best).
A small thin knife or old plastic ID card (used to pry back and view in between crack/crevices).
A small screwdriver (to remove panel covers of electrical outlets from wall and removing back sides of bedside alarm units or telephones for example).
Clear sticky tape (to pick-up samples of cast skins, eggs or adults with. Simply place tape on dead or live sample/specimen of what you suspect is a bed bug, a nymph, any eggs, or its cast skin and fold in half and place in zip-bag to keep for your pest management professional to identify).
Note: After you have completed your Bed Bug Inspection and you suspect that you do indeed have bed bugs within your home, it is advisable to contact a pest control/management professional and schedule a detailed bed bug inspection at your homeas soon as possible. You will want to properly vet the individual or company before hiring them. Examine their credentials and especially their knowledge base in bed bug inspection and treatment methodology of this parasite. A pest professional well versed in termite protection as an example, may not necessarily have the unique credentials or hands on experience required to properly handle this pest!
A proper Bed Bug Inspection is very detailed. And when completed properly can and will be exhaustive by the very nature of the pest that you are searching for. For the inexperienced, the inspection phase can be overwhelming to many. It requires acute attention to detail to locate all of the hidden pockets of a bed bug infestation. The initial inspection must be super-thorough with a just as intense follow-up after any treatments have been initiated. And depending on what you might uncover, it may not be for the faint of heart!
Also, please note that these pests are extremely small (approximately 1/16” to 1/4” in size) and difficult to identify properly with the human eye alone (your magnifying glass will assist you). Throughout the examination process, you may well indeed come across blood smears or fecal spots left behind on soft furnishings or in the seams and corners of the bed mattress. There is also the likelihood that you might discover some cast skins left behind while it is undergoing one of its many molting phases.
If you come across some live bed bugs during the bed bug inspection process, do not panic and break out your favorite pesticides for the quick kill!
Applying a pesticide in this manner almost assuredly is not what the label recommends in its usage and is generally not safe in this type of application. Especially, around pets (birds and fish are super-sensitive to toxicity levels normally associated with many pesticides), children and the elderly (anyone dependent on a respirator or using oxygen will be hyper-sensitive as well). This type of a general pesticide application to infested areas, will simply disperse the population of bed bugs to other areas of your home. Use your sticky tape to collect a specimen and store in one of your zip-lock bags and contact your pest control/management professional for further instruction and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
In the event that you decide to tackle the inspection yourself, then getting acquainted with the Bed Bug Life Cycle is a good starting point. This will assist you in understanding the importance of breaking the life cycle at every juncture to keep this pest from taking a bite out of your home!
How to Inspect for Bed Bugs in the Bedroom
While moving along through your Bed Bug Inspection Checklist, please remember that this pest will typically harbor in areas readily near their most available blood-meal. The bedroom and all of its furnishings should be the first focus of the bed bug inspection. You can expand to other areas of the family dwelling soon thereafter.
Inspect all of the seams and corners of the bed mattress (pull back corners and bed skirts to see inside/behind overlapping seams and crevices).
Inspect the head board; especially behind it.
Inspect nightstands and dresser drawers. (pull out the drawers and inspect inside the rail areas and back sides of the dresser).
Inspect the underside seams and all corners of the mattress.
Dis-assembly of the bed frame will be required for a thorough inspection of its inside and underside corners, cracks and crevices between metal/wood appendages as well as void areas between headboard and main frame.
Inspect inside/underneath the box spring (especially between felt fabric and void areas).
Inspect behind all pictures and mirrors.
Inspect any and all crack/crevices between carpet seams and adjoining walls (pull back/up edge of carpet ¼ to ½ inch to view underneath carpet edge).
Any books or periodicals near the bed and left undisturbed for periods of time, are suspect to bed bug harboring areas. Thumb through the pages and take particular note to hard-back cover reading materials. Bed bugs love paper, cardboard and soft-wood/pressed particle board/wicker type-materials to lay their eggs.
Inspect any overlap/loose/seam areas of wall paper near the bed.
How to Inspect for Bed Bugs in your Electrical Devices and Gadgets
CAUTION & PLEASE BE SAFE! Before beginning your Bed Bug Inspection AND To keep from possible electrical shock, turn off the breaker from the breaker panel when using metal tools around any electrical outlets and use your flashlight for viewing in/behind these areas for pests.
Inspect inside of bed-side telephones or alarm clocks on nightstands near the bed (remove backside of electrical components and view inside).
Remove back panels from T.V.’s (older versions), view back-sides of computer modems and home computer towers near floor or bed for fecal matter or blood-stains.
Remove light switch panels/electrical outlet panels and view behind them.
Treating Bed Bug Bites
Remember, that the first sign of bed bug activity within your home may be signs of a rash, raised red welts or bites on your body. We all react differently to a bed bug bite and the bite itself may go unnoticed for days. In fact, the red welt or itching sensation that you may be experiencing, may be the result of other insect bites such as fleas or mosquitoes. Some people have reported that they suffered from bed bug bites and later found that their symptoms were the results of mild soap irritants or poison ivy. You can find more handy information covering bed bug bites, bed bug rash and their symptoms here. Therefore, by obtaining a sample of this parasite whenever possible is all-important in properly identifying it. This will greatly assist you and your pest management professional in your home bed bug inspection.
In Part 2, I will focus on other bed bug hot zones within the confines of a typical family dwelling. You will be provided with time proven guidelines to assist you while performing the pest examination and/or undergoing any treatments. You will find helpful tips should you discover an infestation within your home, coupled with some common mistakes that need to be avoided. There will also be an introduction to some very helpful tools to navigate the bed bug inspection process much easier. These tools can be used passively and will greatly assist you, in keeping your home, bed bug free!
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