Due to their elusive nature, detection of bed bugs can be very difficult. Bed bug infestation should be suspected if dark brown or reddish brown fecal and blood spots are found on clothing, mattresses, bedding, or furniture. In addition, bed bugs can emit a characteristic sweet, musty smell. Patients may present with itching or skin irritation with bed bug bites, but not everyone has a reaction to the bites. These bites may be confused with bites from other creatures such as mosquitoes, spiders, and fleas. Bed bug infestation is confirmed by the presence of live or dead bugs or their eggs. Every crack and crevice in living areas must be searched extensively to confirm the presence of bed bugs. Using a flashlight about an hour before dawn is a good way to detect bed bugs because they are more active during that time.
Bed bug infestations are not just limited to the bed. They prefer wood, paper, and fabric surfaces in dark and isolated areas. Bed bugs have been found in a wide variety of places including bed frames, door frames, headboards, telephones, furniture, loose wallpaper, wall cracks, drapery, clothing, and movie theater seats. Bed bug–detecting dogs have also been employed to discover bed bugs via scent. A properly trained dog can detect a single live bed bug with 96% accuracy.
US Pharmacist. 2012;37(8):47-50. © 2012 Jobson Publishing