How to inspect for bed bugs

Inspection is the first step in preparing the home for a pest management professional.

There are two main reasons to inspect your home for bed bugs. First, if you suspect you have bed bugs you will need to locate and capture some of the bugs so that a positive identification can be made. Second, if your infestation is confirmed to be a bed bug infestation, inspection is the first step to preparing your home for a pest management professional. Michigan State University Extension has partnered with the Michigan Department of Community Health to address the bed bug issue.

Bed bugs are most likely to be found near where you sleep, typically the bedroom. They may also be in other parts of the house, such as on sofas and chairs in the living room, den or around computers. A flashlight and magnifying glass will be helpful as you conduct the inspection.

Best Management Practices for Controlling Bed Bugs says to do a complete inspection of your bed. Remove the bedding and look over the mattress and box spring closely. Inspect the sides of the mattress, taking a close look at the seams, which provide good hiding places for bed bugs. If possible, remove the fabric on the bottom of the box spring and inspect inside. Bed bugs may be found in cracks and crevices within the bed frame, including the rails, slats, headboard and baseboard. Look closely in any cracks and crevices in the wood, as well as in screw and/or nail holes.

As bed bug populations grow they tend to spread out from the bed. Inspect the items on the top of dressers and nightstands. Remove the contents of drawers, placing them in a plastic bag to be inspected and cleaned. Look carefully at the inside and along the sides of the drawers. Look at the frames of the furniture as well as upholstery, checking the seams and folds of fabric and under cushions. If a wheelchair or walker is used, it should also be inspected too.

Now move beyond the furniture and check windows and window coverings, including the hardware that is holding the window covering. Look at the walls and inspect picture frames and other items that are on the walls, removing the items and checking behind them as well. Remove frames from pictures to inspect inside or under the paper backing.

Bed bugs are also known to hide around light switches and electrical outlets as well as light fixtures in the ceiling. They may also be found in other unusual locations. For example, they have been found in the battery compartments of TV and other remote controls. They have been found in telephones, cell phones and cordless phones. They hide in lamps and alarm clocks as well as computers and other electronics. Cardboard boxes and other storage boxes that are kept in closets and under beds also harbor the pests, as do jewelry boxes. They may be found in children’s toys and stuffed animals as well as books, magazines, newspapers and files. Bed bugs have been found in hollow doors and in ceiling light fixtures and smoke detectors. Heating units, air conditioners and ducts provide hiding places as well.

If a bed bug is found, place it in a zip-top plastic bag or small jar. Have an expert look at it to confirm that it is indeed a bed bug. A positive identification is important because bed bug treatment is time consuming and costly.

For information on how to prevent or treat bed bug infestations, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website, www.michigan.gov/bedbugs. For more information you can download All About Bed Bugs from WoodGreen Community Services.

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