Early Signs Of Bed Bugs. 14 Infestation Indicators

Learn how to detect these parasites quickly if they get into your home.

Written by Meredith Hayes. Updated on Early Signs Of Bed Bugs. 14 Infestation Indicators

Bed bugs are not only tiny and hard to see. These pests are also very hard to get rid of once they start dwelling in your house. And even though they can not be considered dangerous or life-threatening, these pests do cause a lot of irritation (literally) and trouble to humans.

This is why it is important to detect the early-stage bed bug infestation signs in your house or apartment in order to be able to take measures and do your best to cast these tiny critters out of your home!

This is why we have prepared a complete guide for you today.

From this article you will learn how to spot the early signs of bed bugs and where to look for their traces.

Related: 25+ Little black Bugs in The House. Are They Dangerous?

What Are the Early Signs Of Bed Bugs?

As you probably know, bed bugs belong to nocturnal creatures. That means that they mostly come out to feed during the night when everyone is sleeping in the house. And their nocturnal way of life is also the reason why it is so hard to spot them.

Nevertheless, there are a few signs that clearly indicate you are dealing with bed bug infestation in your home:

  1. Blood stains on your bed sheets
  2. Bed bugs’ shells
  3. Dead adult bugs
  4. Eggs
  5. Bites on your body
  6. Brown spots
  7. Skin irritation
  8. Musty scent
  9. Red bumps or welts
  10. Disturbed sleep
  11. Pet behavior
  12. Adverse skin reaction
  13. Active adult bed bugs
  14. Bed bug nymphs

These signs are usually seen after the night, but you can also find them around your home during the day, especially if the size of the infestation is pretty large.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that bed bugs are not able to roam around your home in broad daylight! They can do this, mostly when they experienced a lack of food for quite a long time before that.

Related: How Long Can Bed Bug Live Without Food?

Adverse Skin Reaction
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However, in most cases, these tiny bloodsucking beasts would hide somewhere away during the daytime to crawl out when the night comes to feed on you and on your pets. Sounds creepy, we know.

And since bed bugs are so good at hiding, people find it rather difficult to not just kill these pests, which already sounds like something extremely unusual!

Related: How to Find Bed Bugs During the Day?

They find it rather complicated to even spot them in their homes. Naturally, it makes the task of detecting the early signs of bed bug infestation almost impossible.

Nevertheless, you still can notice the early signs of bed bugs in the place where you and your family live. And if you “catch” bed bugs early enough, chances are pretty high that you will be able to cast them away with the help of your local exterminator’s service.

This is why we recommend you read on carefully to learn about each symptom of a bed bug infestation.

This way, you will be able to detect the parasites early enough and thus the chances that you get rid of them will be higher.

What Are the Early Signs Of Bed Bugs
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Blood Stains On Your Bed Sheets

Usually, when bed bugs feed on humans, they don’t leave any blood traces or spots after themselves. That’s because their saliva contains special components that make the bite not bleed. However, sometimes bed bugs may not clean up after themselves properly!

In these cases, you would see tiny bed bug blood stains on your pillowcases or bed sheets, or blankets. This will happen especially often if your house has been experiencing bed bug infestation for quite a while.

However those tiny blood spots may also appear if you, for example, accidentally crush a bed bug while sleeping by rolling over it.

Blood Stains On Your Bed Sheets
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Bed Bugs’ Shells

Another sign of a bed bug infestation is when you find dead bed bug shells around your bed. This is a clear symptom of the infestation. Abandoned shell casings are a reliable sign of a growing bed bug population in your house.

Those shells are brownish-yellow and slightly transparent, having the shape of an adult insect. They may come in various sizes, from small ones to big ones, since bugs can shed their exoskeletons throughout their molting cycle. Usually bed bugs go through five different stages while growing, which means that they will be shedding their skins multiple times.

Since the bed bug shell casings are much easier to find than the living bugs themselves, you can rely on this symptom completely if until now you were not sure whether your house is infested or not. These shellc can be found anywhere where the bugs live, feed, or breed.

That includes your bed, mattress seams in particular, upholstered furniture, as well as various holes, cracks, and all sorts of crevices within wooden furniture.

Once you find those shells in your home, contact your local pest control service to come and inspect your house.

Bed Bugs’ Shells
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Dead Adult Bugs

Finding a living adult bed bug is nearly impossible. However, if you have taken any precautionary measures before (regardless whether it was rubbing alcohol or diatomaceous earth), you might spot the dead insects around your house.

That’s because they come out of their hiding places to open before they die.

How to Kill Bed Bugs With Household ItemsHow to Kill Bed Bugs With Household Items


Finding bed bug’s eggs or nymphs is another clear indicator of an infestation. Eggs are usually pinhead-size, pearly white ovals that are around one millimeter in length. They can be found loosely stuck to different types of surfaces, for instance, to crevices between fabrics or to the wooden surfaces. In most cases, you would find them near the regular bed bug harboring areas.

Nevertheless, since a pregnant bed bug tends to roam around before it lays eggs, this may become a cause of the infestation spreading to the neighboring houses or apartments.

But thanks to the fact that bed bug eggs can be seen with the naked eye, you can spot this sign of infestation in case you know exactly what you are looking for.

bed bug’s eggs
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Bites On Your Body

Bed bug bites are the clearest sign of an infestation in your home! They usually look like red or pink itchy bumps that are rather small. The bites tend to appear during the night when the parasites feed on your blood, this is why if you wake up in the morning and you see those spots on your arms, legs, or back, that is very likely you have bed bugs.

Sometimes, those bites may appear in clusters of three or four bites in a line. That’s because bed bugs bite while crawling on you, and thus they make several bites in a row.

Bites On Your Body
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On the other hand, relying only on the signs of bites is not enough if you want to diagnose a bed bug infestation! That’s because not everyone is sensitive to the bites of these pests. Around thirty percent of people will not develop any skin reaction to the bed bugs’ bites at all!

In addition, we would like to emphasize that bed bugs’ bites are not dangerous for you! They also don’t transmit any of the known diseases.

However, sometimes people may develop allergic reactions to those bites due to the specific individual features of their bodies.

Bites On Your Body
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Brown Spots

If you start noticing tiny brown or black dots on your bed sheets or clothes, the dots that remind of a pen tip mark, this is the sign of bed bugs presence in your house. See, those dots are the bed bugs’ fecals.

These marks are usually clustered around the harboring areas of the insects, but you can also easily find them on your bed sheets, curtains, pajamas, mattresses, headboards, box springs, walls, and other types of surfaces.

They are usually found in large numbers around the bug hiding places and they are pretty hard to wash off the fabrics. That is because these droppings contain processed human blood that is, as you probably know, quite hard to launder off.

Brown Spots
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Skin Irritation

Not only bites can cause unpleasant feelings. Bed bugs are also often a cause of quite annoying skin irritations. If you wake up in the morning and you are experiencing a mysterious itching that you did not have when you went to bed yesterday, that is most likely the symptom of a bed bug presence in your house and in your bedroom in particular.

That itchy feeling will most commonly be located on the upper body including your arms and hands. The itchy feeling may be different, from light itching to severe aggravation that can sometimes transform into a burning sensation!

Skin Irritation
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Musty Scent

Not everyone knows that bed bugs infestation, in fact, has its smell! However, this is how things are. See, these nocturnal parasites tend to emit a sort of unsettling sweet smell from glands within their tiny bodies. With the help of this scent, bed bugs actually communicate with each other!

So if you suddenly start smelling a sort of musty scent in your home, this might be the sign of bed bugs’ presence. People usually describe this odor as a mix of coriander and an old locker room.

Musty Scent
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Red Bumps Or Welts

Another skin reaction that will speak clearly of the bed bugs infestation is red welts and bumps on your body. They are usually itching and appear in the morning since bugs leave those marks on your bodies during the night while they are feeding.

However, since many other kinds of insects and parasites in particular can also leave red itchy marks on your body, it is better if you correctly diagnose those bumps and welts before you start treating them.

Red Bumps Or Welts
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Disturbed Sleep

If you notice that you wake up many times during the night for no obvious reason, that might be the sign of bed bugs present nearby. Why are you waking up if those insects are so tiny?

Well, you might just unknowingly feel the slight movement they make on your body, or those quick instances of itching or burning that their bites cause.

Disturbed Sleep
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Pet Behavior

Pay attention to your pet behavior as well. Of course, we all know that bed bugs prefer feeding on humans because we don’t have that thick fur as our pets have. Thus it is easier to bite us and feed on us.

However, sometimes bed bugs can even infest our pets and thus cause serious irritation and disturbance. So if you suspect your cat or dog is infested by the bed bugs, better take your furry friend to the vet to have it examined and correctly diagnosed, Since it might also be flea invasion.

Pet Behavior
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Adverse Skin Reaction

If you know that you have sensitive skin, or you are predisposed to allergic skin reactions, bed bugs may cause a lot of trouble to you. In particular, you can experience hives or even blisters from their bites! If that happens, visit your doctor for help and further treatment.

Adverse Skin Reaction
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Active Adult Bed Bugs

Yes, finding adult bed bugs that are active right now is a rare thing, we agree. However, it is not something that is very unlikely to happen. Sometimes, people report seeing adult pests in their homes, especially if they wake up at night being disturbed by their bites.

However, in the majority of cases, you will most likely see either their eggs or nymphs instead. And adult insects can only be noticed by the shells that they leave after themselves.

Active Adult Bed Bugs
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Bed Bug Nymphs

Finally, nymphs can be considered another clear sign of a bed bug infestation. They are usually crawling around in search of food. Nymphs are smaller than fully grown bed bugs, and they resemble the adult pests a bit.

So, now you have a complete list of signs that will surely tell you have a bed bug infestation in your home.

We do invoke you to consider that some of these symptoms, when being taken on their own, can not be used as a proof of the infestation.

For instance, spotting bites on your body may be the sign of other home pests, such as fleas, etc.

This is why you should always look for several of these signs to be absolutely sure that the parasites you are dealing with are bed bugs and not someone else. Like this, when calling your local pest control, you will be able to clearly indicate what pests they have to destroy.

Bed Bug Nymphs
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Early Detection Signs of Bed Bugs On Sheets

Early detection signs of bed bugs on your bed sheets are usually tiny black or rusty dots. They are no bigger than a dot from a pen tip, and those dots are the traces of the processed human blood that bed bugs feed on during the night.

However, you can also find other marks on your bed linen. Crushed bed bugs also leave stains, but those are usually the fresh blood stains from the blood the parasite took right before it was smashed.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Symptoms & TreatmentsWhat Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Symptoms & Treatments

Early Signs of Bed Bugs Bites

Bites appear after the insect feeds on you at night. They look like reddish or pink bumps and they are often itchy and a bit swollen. If you notice any similar reactions on your arms or hands after the night, consider checking for other bed bug presence symptoms!

In addition, if you are allergic or your skin is very sensitive on its own, you may develop a way more serious and severe skin reaction! So be careful and try to diagnose bed bug infestation as soon as you can.

Early Signs of Bed Bugs Bites
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Early Stage Signs of Bed Bugs On Couch

Spotting those creatures on your couch is quite a difficult task. In particular, because bed bugs tend to hide in the crevices between the upholstery seams. In addition, couches are not their favorite hideout unless this is where you usually sleep.

But if you do suspect bed bugs dwelling in your couch, search for their shells or for the dead bugs, as well as for their eggs and/or nymphs. Insects’ droppings can be another clear sign of their presence. That’s because you will hardly find living bugs or bloody spots, again, unless you are using the couch for sleeping daily.

Early Stage Signs of Bed Bugs On Couch
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Early Signs of Bed Bugs On Mattress

Speaking of early signs of bed bugs’ presence on your mattress, you should think of their shells and droppings first of all. Bed bugs’ stains are usually black, but they can also be rusty red or yellowish, so don’t let them trick you!

As for the shells, those are usually found either under the mattress or in its seams since those are the most common hiding spots for these blood-sucking parasites.

Early Signs of Bed Bugs On Mattress
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Early Stage Signs of Bed Bugs On Walls

Though most people think that bed bugs only dwell in their beds, these insects can also live in all sorts of crevices in wooden furniture, and in the wall crevices in particular. The best way to detect their presence on the wall is to search for the pests’ feces.

Since their feces are sticky, you will easily spot them on your walls. On paint, there should be staining around the feces and often trails that are running down the wall. Also, when bed bugs are infesting a wall outlet, you may find streaks on the outlet cover or on the baseboard.

Early Stage Signs of Bed Bugs On Walls
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Early Signs of Bed Bugs On Bed

To detect these pests on your bed, search for either blood stains that are usually left from the bugs that were crushed by you in the sleep, or look for the tiny black dots that are the traces of their feces.

It is very unlikely that you find shells of the bugs in your bed, but they can indeed be found under the bed or under the mattress, so we would recommend you consider such options as well when searching for the signs of these pests’ presence.

So, now we have told you everything about bed bugs, their most commonly found traces, and the places that you can find them in. With all that in mind, you will manage to easily detect their presence in your home and call the pest control service in time to get rid of those blood-suckers quickly and effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ What do bed bug stains look like?

They look like black dots that resemble the dot from a pen tip.

⭐ Can you crush a bed bug?

Yes, you can crush it in your sleep if you roll over it while it’s feeding.

⭐ Can bed bugs get into your nose?

No, they have no interest and no need in that.

⭐ Are bed bug shells hard?

They are relatively rigid.

Written by
Meredith will assist you with your health and family problems. She is a professional therapist who has huge experience in the field of family health care.
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