Have you ever observed black or dark spots on your sheets? Many people have, and it is certainly not a pleasant experience. The mind naturally wonders if these spots are bed bugs. However, what if they do not have the appearance of bed bugs?
Those dark spots on your bed or couch may be caused by several other reasons that are not bed bugs.
In this article, you will learn the visible and nonvisible signs of bed bugs, and how to get rid of them. We will also mention other reasons why you may notice dark spots on your bed and how to act if this ever happens to you.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that live in apartments, hotel rooms, cruise ships, buses, trains, and other places where people gather. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and have a brownish-red color. Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are smaller and have a transparent yellowish color. Bed bugs feed on human and animal blood, so they may bite pets as well. Bed bugs can be found anywhere in the world, but they are most common in developing countries. They are also found in the United States and Canada.
Bed bugs have flat, thin bodies that allow them to hide in small spaces, such as in your bed frame, mattress, or couch. They can also move quickly on any surface, including your mattress, wall, or ceiling.
Signs that You Have Bed Bugs
Here are some signs that you have bed bugs:
Bed Bugs Outer Skeleton
Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, go through five stages of development before growing into adults. With each stage, they shed their exoskeleton, or outer skeleton. Multiply this by the number of new insects that hatch each day, and you'll get a lot of exoskeletons, or bed bug shells. Bed bugs also leave a fresh shell and grow larger with each blood meal. Bed bug shells are almost transparent in color and can come in different sizes and shapes.
You can find these shells where bed bugs hide, such as in your mattress, couch, or any piece of furniture.
If you have bed bugs in your home, you are most likely to experience a strong, musty odor. This irritating smell is both sweet and musty. Some people also describe it as similar to the smell of wet clothes left in the washing machine for too long. The odor of bed bugs usually becomes more intense as they multiply.
One of the clearest signs of a bed bug infestation is finding blood stains on your bed or pajamas. Bed bugs feed on blood, so they are typically filled with it. When you toss and turn in your bed, you may crush these bugs, leaving behind their blood stains. Bed bug blood stains are brownish-red in color, so they are different from other dark spots you may find on your bed.
Bed Bugs Eggs
If you spot bed bug eggs, you are definitely dealing with a bed bug infestation. Bed bug eggs are tiny and yellowish-transparent, making them difficult to spot. However, if you pay close attention, you may find them in the cracks or joints of your furniture.
Other Non-visible Signs of Bed Bugs
There are a number of visible signs that indicate a bed bug infestation. However, there are also non-visible signs that can alert you to the presence of bed bugs including:
Finding Red Spots on Your Body
Bed bugs are mainly active at night, so they bite you while you are sleeping. They feed on your blood by piercing your skin and drawing your blood, which naturally leaves a red spot on your body. Bed bug bites appear on your skin as clusters of three to five bites in a zigzagging or random pattern. While fleas usually bite you around the ankle, bed bugs bite you in body areas that are exposed while you are asleep. For example, you may find bed bug bites on your face, hands, or neck.
Bed bug bites are usually itchy, but if the itching is unbearable, you may be allergic to bed bugs. If this happens to you, see a doctor immediately to treat your allergic reaction.
Having Bed Bugs in Your Neighborhood
If you hear that your neighborhood has a bed bug problem, the black dots on your bed are most likely bed bug droppings. This can also happen if you bring old or secondhand furniture into your home.
How Do Bed Bugs Travel From One Place to Another?
Having bed bugs in your home is not a cleanliness issue. Bed bugs can be found in both the cleanest and messiest places. If you find bed bugs in your home, they have likely traveled from another infested location.
For example, if you purchase used furniture, it may contain bed bugs from the previous owner's home. Bed bugs can also travel in suitcases or bags that you carry with you to an infested location. Because bed bugs are small and good at hiding, they can easily travel from one place to another unnoticed.
Where to Look for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs typically hide in places that give them access to people, since they feed on blood. Therefore, the first place to look is your mattress and bed. You may also want to check the cracks in your bed frame and headboard. As bed bugs grow, they may move to other locations that offer better hiding places. Here is a list of potential locations where you may find bed bugs:
- The joints of your furniture
- Under peeling paint or hanging pictures
- On your clothes
- Under carpets
- On mattresses
- On any objects near your bed
- In boxes
- In drawers
What to Do if You Have Bed Bugs
Getting rid of bed bugs completely requires hiring a professional to use chemical treatments. However, if you want to do it yourself, be sure to use the right pesticides. These pesticides should be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and effective in treating bed bugs. Before using chemical pesticides on your mattress, check the label to make sure that it is safe to do so. If you are facing a severe bed bug infestation, you should contact a professional pest control company.
Check out our article on how to get rid of these pests on your own and how to protect yourself from them.
If not Bed Bugs, then What Are They?
If you carefully inspect your house for bed bugs but don't find any, there are other reasons why you may find black or dark spots on your bed, including:
Skin Issues or Folliculitis
If you have skin problems, such as folliculitis, you may be staining your mattress with your own blood. For example, folliculitis can cause skin lesions and bleeding. When these blood stains become rusty, they turn a brownish color that looks like dark spots on your mattress. Therefore, if you have folliculitis or any other skin condition that causes you to scratch, those dark spots are less likely to be caused by bed bugs.
Mold is one of the most common types of fungi that can be found in homes. It grows both outdoors and indoors through the production of spores that float around and spread to new locations. It usually develops more in warm, moist environments. Mold can grow on a variety of surfaces, including mattresses, furniture, and even walls. Therefore, the black spots on your bed could also be caused by mold.
If you ever find dark spots on your bed, carefully inspect the area for bed bugs. They are tiny insects that like to hide in small, inconspicuous places. If you see bed bugs, you are dealing with an infestation. In this case, you may want to hire a professional pest control company to completely eliminate them. However, you can also do it yourself, but be sure to follow the appropriate safety precautions.
The dark spots on your bed could also be caused by mold or your own blood due to a skin condition. Therefore, it is important to know how to differentiate between bed bugs and other issues.
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