Have you recently woken up to the feeling of itchy bites on your body. Maybe you looked in the mirror in the morning and noticed some itchy red bites on your face or body. You may have become overwhelmed with fear from the fact that you may have an infestation of bed bugs present.
Before you jump to conclusions, it’s important to note that bites suffered at night while sleeping may not always be bed bug bites as there are numerous other insects that can infiltrate your home and crawl over you and even bite you as you lay resting. The bite you may have experience may have been from a spider or mosquito rather than a bed bug or even another insect pest.
It’s important to correctly identify what bug is biting you and analyze the situation carefully before you pursue a treatment plan to deal with the problem. If you want to get to the bottom of the mystery bites you are having to deal with, this article can help.
We will cover the usual suspects that bite people at night, the likelihood of each pest, things you can do to correctly identify and inspect for the mystery biters as well as offer solutions for controlling and preventing the pest to put a stop to the biting once and for all.
Bed Bugs: The Likely Suspect
While we did state that many different bugs can potentially invade the home and bite slumbering people, the most likely culprit are bed bugs. After all, bed bugs are a parasitic pest that requires blood for its survival, and unfortunately for us, prefers the blood of humans over any other potential host.
Bed bugs are tiny, oval-shaped and flat bodies. From a far they look like an apple seed in movement, but up close you can make out their small antennae, six legs and you may even spot a plump bed bug having been engorged from recently enjoying a blood meal—likely from you.
Bed bugs have long been a common household pest problem that home dwellers and business managers dread to have indoors. Infestations from this tiny arthropods seem like they come out of nowhere since one moment it may appear like you are bed bug free, but then the next day you are having trouble sleeping due to itchy bites all over you and are waking up to irritated skin and raised bumps.
Bed bugs are nocturnal and do all their dirty work at night when we are sleeping soundly. They are able to transfer from place to place due to their exceptional hiding skills and hitchhiking ability, moving themselves stealthily off of furniture and onto laid out belongings like purses, luggage, bags and clothing. The places where you should most worry about possibly encountering bed bugs and unknowingly having them infest your things are airports, bus stations, hotels and motels and even theatres. Basically any place where many different people come and go are bed bug hot spots.
Bed bug bites don’t hurt and don’t cause any infectious harmful diseases but they can leave itchy welts and skin irritation due to the saliva they leave behind causing a reaction in the body that leads to reddened bumps on the skin.
Bed bugs bite often as they need blood to grow into adults and they need blood to reproduce. If you have suffered a one-off bite and itchy irritation and when through a long period of no bites, you may not have a bed bug infestation. However, if you or others in your home are regularly getting bitten on an almost daily basis, it’s pretty safe to assume that its because your have a bed bug infestation present.
The Common Bed Biters Beside Bed Bugs
You can never be too sure if you have bed bugs in your home or not, but there are cases where the mysterious bites you are receiving are not from bed bugs. The list of biting suspect varies but we will cover the most common ones here.
Much like bed bugs, mosquitoes also require blood from warm blood mammals for their survival. They are small flies with delicate bodies and a proboscis that is perfect for injecting into skin and sucking up blood. Chances are a mosquito may have flow into your home from a open window or cracked door and while you were sleeping, they feasted upon you, leaving you waking up to itchy marks.
One of the best ways you can tell that mosquitoes are the ones biting you is if you see flat reddish bumps on random parts of your body. Bed bug bites on the other hand take place in clusters of multiple bites rather than a random scattering of bites like a mosquito would do. If you were to flick the light on in the middle of the night after being bitten, you may be able to easily tell that a mosquito was the issue because they would become more visible because their stomachs are filled with your blood.
Spiders are pests that prefer to live outside of the home and often wander indoors by accident during their hunt for food (smaller insects). Spiders are tiny, which makes little cracks and crevices and different points of entry into your home easy to squeeze through. Spiders occasionally will bite humans but it is actually more rare than other biting pests.
This is because spiders only bite when they have been threatened. Since you are in your most non-threatening state when you are sleeping, it’s highly unlikely that they would bite you, even if they happen to crawl over you. While you may be worried that a Spider bite is venomous because of species like black widows and brown recluse, the chances of you being bitten by them in your sleep or even of them being in your home is low because again, they like to be outdoors.
A close relative of the bed bug, fleas are tiny brown blood sucking parasites as well. Fleas main host of choice are animals, namely pets like dogs or cats. Fleas often jump onto the legs and bodies of dogs and cats while they are outdoors and can infest indoors when pets are inside the home. Humans can become victim of flea bites if the infestation is bad enough.
Fleas are located in carpets and the indoor sleeping quarters where your pets sleep. If your pets are itching and you are too from bites, then it will likely be fleas that need to be addressed.
Other Common Biters
Some other possible mystery biters of you include microscopic mites that live on us and at worst can cause scabies. Chiggers are another type of tiny mite that loves to drink human blood. If the bites you are receiving are near your lips, then you may have been visited by a kissing bug (also known as an assassin bug). These bugs are quite large though so they will be noticeable and easily spotted, solving the mystery of the bite rather quickly.
How To Inspect And Confirm Bed Bug Activity
If you have a sneaking suspicion that bed bugs are the problem, the way you can know for sure (Aside from finding little live bed bugs crawling around) is a thorough inspection of your home to locate bed bug signs. Some of the most surefire signs of a bed bug infestation include:
- Bed bug feces. These are little blood spots that are found on bed sheets, bare mattresses and furniture that are a rusty brown color or black color. Bed bugs drink a lot of blood, which means they’ll poop a lot as well, so these spots will be noticeable if there’s an invasion.
- Bed bug shed skins. Bed bugs go through 4 to 5 stages of development before they become an adult, and each transitional phase is marked by them molting their skin. If you find hollow bed bug bodies laying around, those are their shed skins.
- Bed Bug eggs. Bed bug lay a lot of eggs once they get their blood meal and will deposit them in tucked away places like the folds of mattresses and crevices. These are tiny and translucent in color.
- Bed bug scent. Where bed bug are present, you will smell a unique musty sweet odor which can be a mixture of there feces odor and pheromones they release to communicate with one another.
By scanning your mattress, bedding materials, carpeting, couches and other such areas, if you find signs of these evidences, it’s pretty certain you are dealing with bed bugs and need to act quickly to put a stop to the rapidly growing population and end the biting.
How to End The Bed Bug Biting
Whether it is bed bugs you are suffering an infestation from or one of the other biting pests we mentioned, you can put a stop with the bed bug problem by vacuuming your home thoroughly. Vacuum carpets, rugs, furniture and especially your entire bed (mattress, box spring, bed frame etc) to remove adult bed bugs and their eggs. Using the crevice attachment will come in handy because bed bugs hide in tight hard to reach areas. For heavy infestations you should vacuum daily and change out your vacuum filter and bags regularly so bed bugs don’t linger.
Run your bedding materials, fabrics, drapes and any clothing you suspect may be infested by bed bugs into the washer and dryer on the highest heat setting possible. High temperatures for prolonged periods of time kill bed bugs immediately. When the materials are clean, place them in a safe area in a sealed bag until you are certain the bed bug issue is totally eradicated.
Finally, utilize effective bed bug pesticides in your quest to eliminate the bed bug problem. There are a number of reputable products out there, but the key is to be consistent and diversify your applications by using more than one pesticide. For example use an aerosol spray to kill bed bugs, as well as a bed bug dusting powder. This will increase your chances of successfully eliminating the bed bug invasion.
Apply onto your bed, the edges of carpeting, behind electrical outlets (a common bed bug traveling area) and furniture. Repeat the application every two weeks until there are no more bites at night and no new signs of their presence.
Preventing Bed Bugs and Other Biters From Returning
With bed bugs, the best you can do to prevent a future invasion are the proper precautions like encasing your bed and box spring with bed bug covers the reduce the chances of reinfestation. You should also be vigilant and alert when traveling so your belongs don’t get infested by bed bugs. Be careful when staying somewhere that isn’t your home and inspect if you must.
For most of the other biting pests we mentioned, prevention means keeping your home as clean as possible and making it tougher for biting bugs like spiders and mosquitoes from gaining entry into your home by placing screens on windows and doors, sealing off points of entry with caulk and other measures to make it difficult for them to sneak inside.
No one likes there sleep ruined, especially by biting pests like bed bugs, spiders, mosquitoes and other bloodthirsty pests. By following the tips and guidelines in this article, the biting that you are experiencing doesn’t have to be a regular occurrence that you will just have to live with. Track down what pest is biting you and spring into action to eliminate them from your home and end the itchy biting for good.