Step 1: Confirmation

The BBF offers a free specimen identification service. You can find details of how to submit images or specimens for confirmation >>here<<.

Each year, less than 20% of the specimens and photographs that the BBF receives are bed bugs, so there is a good chance that you have nothing to worry about. Many pest control companies have been known to conduct expensive bed bug treatment services without confirming that bed bugs are actually present. In some cases unnecessary treatments are also caused by misidentifying other household insects as bed bugs. Either way, unnecessary bed bugs treatments are a common problem, which causes considerable unnecessary disruption and expense. You can protect yourself from this by making use of our identification service, and familiarising yourself with what bed bugs and their signs look like, before contacting a pest control company.

Bites – It is not possible to identify the culprit from bites alone. The distribution of the bites can give some clues, but the extent of the itchiness and swelling can be very specific to the individual. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all, while others experience strong, long lasting reactions, and sometimes even blistering. Both bed bugs and mosquitoes tend to bite exposed skin, while fleas will more readily push under clothes.

Sometimes bed bugs bite two or three times in one place. This tends to happen when they are searching for a suitable blood vessel. The result is a collection of itchy bites within a few centimetres of each other. It is uncommon to have more than a few bites in the same location. When larger numbers of bite-like lesions occur together, it is worth considering other causes, such as a localised allergic reaction to something in the environment, a bacterial infection (such as impetigo), or a mite infection (such as chiggers or scabies). There are actually many skin complaints that produce symptoms similar to insect bites, so it may be worth showing them to your GP or dermatologist.

>> 3.2 Identification <<

Faecal spots – Because bed bugs ingest an exclusively liquid diet, they excrete large amounts of dark aqueous faeces. The presence of dark faecal spots on the bedding is very often the first indication of a bed bug infestation. Although a few spots are often evident on the bedding, most of them tend to be found where the bedbugs are hiding, usually in a sheltered crevice in somewhere in the structure of the bed. On absorbent surfaces, such as bedding, they tend to wick into the fibres, but on unabsorbent surfaces, such as varnished wood, the spots tend to dry as raised lumps.

Scent Detection Dogs – Scent detection dogs can be an efficient way to determine whether you have bed bugs. You can read more about scent detection dogs here.

The BBF provides certification for scent detection dogs in Europe. You can find contact details for certified teams working in your area.

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