“While doing a routine cleaning of my blinds and window sills; I ran across these little brownish black spots all over them. From everything I had been seeing in the news and reading I thought, OMG! BED BUG POOP – I HAVE BED BUGS – which then catapulted my cleaning efforts right into a serious episode of OCD cleaning! You should have seem me she explained, I almost ripped the curtains off the rods and the blinds came tumbling down as I danced the dance of a thousand veils thinking bugs were getting all over me“ She ran with the curtains and placed them into a hot washer and the blinds went directly into a hot soapy bleach solution in the bath tub.
Then back to the windows and sills where she spent the majority of the rest of her day carefully examining every inch as she feverishly scrubbed the paint off every crack and crevice she could find.
Stories like this and others similar are shared with me on our bed bug hotline on a regular basis. The first sign of bed bugs most people acknowledge is waking up with mysterious bites but because some people don’t react to bites; that means they potentially can have bed bugs and not realize it until they clean.
How do I know if these spots are from bed bugs?
Just because you see brownish or blackish spots doesn’t always mean bed bugs. Clean your glasses first. Bed bug fecal stains can be similar to other insects fecal matter spots like cockroaches (under large infestations) and flies; so your efforts have to go beyond just a mark and look for other signs.
- Have you searched for shed skins (castings) or live bed bugs?
- Have you noticed blood smears on sheets and clothing?
- Spots can vary on color depending upon proportions of digested blood and uric acid. [From tan to brown to dark brown to blackish in color].
- If you run your finger across a bed bug fecal spot it is usually smooth to the touch because it is dried liquid and it is absorbed into fabrics
The process of digesting a blood meal and signs
When a host is available the bed bug feeds approximately every 5 to 10 days. After talking a blood meal they go back to their hiding place where digestion takes place.
Once the blood has been digested it turns from red to a dark color which are the telltale signs you see on areas where the bed bug travels and can be found in groups of one to many.
The fecal stains or spots can appear different depending on the surfaces they are laid. If it is deposited on an absorbent surface such as fabrics they will be smooth and appear like ink from a pen. When deposited on non-absorbent surfaces like furniture, window sills, baseboards and other wood items, they tend to have a dimension and appear raised.
Where do I look?
These spots can be found just about anywhere.
During a recent or “introduction phase” of bed bugs they will be found on areas of the bed or places where one sleeps or rests. As the infestation grows they can be found in areas adjacent to the sleeping and resting areas including and not limited to the surrounding walls.
Here is an example of a rather large infestation where these marks appear to be “mold” on the ceiling.
Are you still unsure?
This past year a wonderful tool came on to the market that helps take the guess work out of knowing whether or not the stain you have is or is not from a bed bug call Bed Bug Blue. Bed Bug Blue™ will turn blue for bed bug fecal spots whether they are new or old (up to 2 years old) as long as the spotting has not been wiped down with cleansers or other chemicals. www.usbedbugs.com