How To Inspect For Bed Bugs

[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]Starter Guide To A Bed Bug Inspection:[/headline_arial_small_left]

When a bed bug infestation is suspected, a very thorough inspection is required. You must be prepared to look for large and small bugs, fecal spotting, and cast skins. Often the first response is to head for the bed, but other locations can be just as important.

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[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]Important Questions To Ask Yourself:[/headline_arial_small_left]

  1. Has someone in the family been on a trip that required luggage?
  2. Do they regularly carry other bags (backpacks, etc.) that they may place under (or beside) chairs or seats?
  3. Where is luggage, (or baggage, backpacks, etc) typically placed when returning to the residence?
  4. Where is the luggage stored after emptying?
  5. Does the affected person sleep or rest for extended time on a couch (or another area) in the residence?
  6. Where are dirty clothes and bed linens placed, or stored?
  7. Does anyone else visit the residence with bags, a coat, or other items? (This question has been important for seniors residences and apartments)
  8. Where has the person visited in the past 6 months – place or places where they may have sat or rested for a time period? (This is a “long shot” question, but it has in the past revealed a key societal connection, and may be critical for prevention methods).
  9. What control measures were previously attempted?

Answers to the above questions will help determine the potential extent of the infestation and where inspections should start. Keep in mind, though, that these questions should not limit where you look!

While bed bugs are most commonly found in bedrooms, infestations can also occur in other rooms, including: bathrooms; living rooms; and laundry rooms.


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[headline_arial_small_left color=”#000000″]Necessary Tools Need In A Bed Bug Inspection:[/headline_arial_small_left]

While not all these tools are required, they are helpful. Don’t paralyze yourself due to trying to gather all the tools needed to do the inspection. Simply use what you can as you will see the process you will learn, doesn’t require all these tools.

  1. Quality flashlight
  2. Thin blade spatula (a cake icing spatula is suitable)
  3. Screwdrivers and wrenches for dismantling items (e.g., the bed and cover plates to electrical receptacles)
  4. 10x magnifying glass
  5. Inspection mirror
  6. Carpet adhesive
  7. Garbage bags (for quickly containing infested items)
  8. Clear packing tape (for samples and sealing infested articles in bags),
  9. Staple gun with ¼” staples
  10. Vacuum cleaner that can use filter bags
  11. Bed Bug Bully (a pesticide exempt bed bug spray under FIFRA 25)


Usually, there will be one (to several) primary infestation sites associated where people rest (sleep, sit for extended periods, etc.). Bed bugs are extremely flat and small (1/16th to 3/8 inch or 6 to 8 mm long) so the person inspecting must look along (and in) edges and cracks, folds and seams. Holes drilled in wooden elements for screws are important, as are labels.

To give you an idea of the tight places bed bugs can fit into, bed bugs have been found along picture frames, between the glass and frame itself. Start at the places the person has identified as a resting site, and move out from this point.

Inspections of the bed (or resting areas) have to be detailed, as this habitat is very complex. The bed consists of: linens; blankets; mattress; box spring; headboard and frame. Although the favored resting areas consist of the region near the head and shoulders of the person (mattress, box spring and behind the headboard) do not superficially inspect these areas and assume the job is done. Start with the linens concentrating on the folds and seams of sheets and blankets (particularly fitted sheets).

As items are inspected, remove them from the bed and place them centrally on the floor. Remember, you are looking for bed bugs in a range of sizes, as well as fecal spotting and caste skins.

If at any time a bed bug is found: discontinue the in-depth inspection and initiate control activity (after discussing recommended course of action, and obtaining approval from victim). Do not continue with an in-depth inspection alone, as bed bugs may move from their hiding places once disturbed.

At the very least, any bugs found during a continued inspection should be removed by vacuuming.

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