How to Find Bed Bugs During the Day

You might wonder how to find bed bugs during the day. These insects are nocturnal and typically come out at night to feed, so you’re not likely to see them scurrying around on your mattress by day. You can find them if you look in their hiding spots, though, and you can also find signs of them that they leave behind.

By Pest Advisor Editors (Updated on Apr 14, 2022)

Fact Checked by Jason Chapman

How to Find Bed Bugs During the Day photo

How can you find bed bugs during the day? This can be a challenge! Bed bugs generally come out at night and feast on humans who are sleeping or resting in the vicinity. During the day, they hide in tiny crevices where they can stay out of sight. We’ll go into all of the info you need on how to find bed bugs during the day, but here are a few facts to get you started:

  • Knowing where to look will help bring these buggers to light more quickly.
  • If you can’t find actual bed bugs during the day, there are signs that will tell you that you do, in fact, have a bed bug infestation.
  • Keep in mind that finding one bed bug almost definitely means that you have lots and lots of bed bugs.
  • You will want to take immediate action if you find even one of these creatures.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Before you can look for bed bugs, you need to know what they look like. Bed bugs are small and brown. They’re oval-shaped and flattened, so they fit in super skinny cracks and crevices. Sometimes they’re fatter and redder after they’ve eaten. Since they eat at night, you’ll want to keep the time of day in mind when you’re looking; they’re likely to look plumper in the morning than in the afternoon.

They’re anywhere between 1/8” to about 3/8” long, depending on their age. While the smallest bed bugs can be difficult to see, they’re not too small to see with the naked eye.

Bed bugs have six legs and no wings, though you can see what looks like wing pads on the backs of adult bed bugs. They scurry, but they can’t jump or fly.

Can You Check for Bed Bugs During the Day?

While it’s difficult to find bed bugs during the day, it’s not impossible. What you need to do is look where they’re hiding. For the most part, they won’t be hanging out on your sheets or your pillowcase; instead, they’ll find tight, often dark areas where they can hide undetected until after the sun goes down. 

The edge of your mattress near the seams is a good place to start looking. Strip your bed and take a good look all along the edges. Remove the pillowcases and check the inner seams. You can also move the mattress and look at the edges of the bed frame that support the mattress. They might be hiding between the carpet and baseboard, or between the slats of wood if you have hardwood floors. 

You might not find any bed bugs even if you have an infestation, but there are other signs you can look for that will tell you that you have unwanted guests.

What Are Other Signs That You Have Bed Bugs?

When you’re looking during the day, you’re likely to find a few clues that you have bed bugs even if you don’t see any live bugs. Here are a few of them:

  • Dead bugs. You might roll over onto live bugs in your sleep, and this will kill them. Dead bed bugs look just like live ones, only they might be flattened and surrounded by a little dot of fresh blood if they’ve recently eaten.
  • Bed bug skins or shells. These critters molt their skins as they grow, leaving behind what looks like an empty bug shell. These skins are translucent and the size and shape of a bed bug, but more often, you’ll find pieces rather than a full shell.
  • Bed bug poop. Yep, it’s not the most pleasant thing to find in your bed, but if you see brown dots or tiny smears, you might have stumbled upon the feces of bed bugs.
  • A musty odor. When bed bugs get squashed, they emit a smell that’s similar to that of a stink bug. If you don’t know what a stink bug smells like, it’s a musty, slightly fruity smell. So if you have a musty or fruity odor in your bedroom, consider a possible infestation as the cause.
  • Bed bug bites. There are several types of insects that can bite, but bed bug bites are characteristic in that they often occur in lines or clusters. Whereas a flea or a mosquito might give you one or two bites, bed bugs will often bite in a series of nips, leading to a pattern of dots on your skin. They tend to be very itchy.

What Should I Do If I Find a Bed Bug?

If you do find a bed bug during the day or otherwise (or if you simply find signs of bed bugs in your house), you’ll want to take quick action. Bed bugs can reproduce at an alarming rate. Female bugs can lay up to seven eggs per day, and they hatch after two weeks. Six weeks after hatching, the babies can begin reproducing. You don’t need to be a math whiz to recognize that you can have a very large infestation very quickly if you ignore the signs of having bed bugs in your house.

It’s also important to keep in mind that by the time you find bed bugs or detect the signs of an infestation, you don’t have one or two or a dozen bed bugs. You have a lot.

So, what should you do? Ideally, you will realize that you have this problem during the day and you will immediately call an exterminator, who will have the time that day to go to your house and begin an effective treatment. 

Unfortunately, these things do not always happen in an ideal fashion, so you might realize the problem at midnight, on a holiday, or on a week when your local professional exterminator is overbooked and can’t make it for a few days. 

In this case, you can try some DIY mitigation tips, but understand that it’s very unlikely that they’ll eliminate an infestation. You’re really going to need to get in touch with a pro ASAP. In the meantime, try these tips:

  • Wash your sheets, blankets, comforters, and pillowcases in hot water and dry them on high in the dryer. Don’t try to save the environment or your money by washing in cool water or hanging the sheets on the clothesline; this isn’t the time for that. High heat kills bed bugs and their eggs, so that’s what you want to use.
  • While the laundry is going, get out your trusty vacuum cleaner and vacuum the room to within an inch of its life. This means vacuuming the mattress, the bed frame, between the mattress and the box spring, the entire floor, any other furniture in the room, and the edges of the baseboards. 
  • Try to get a mattress cover that encases the entire mattress. Put that on the mattress before making the bed up again with fresh, clean sheets and blankets. You’ll want to leave that cover on for weeks or even months unless your bed bug exterminator tells you otherwise, because any eggs in the mattress could hatch and you want to keep those bugs from emerging, feeding on you, and reproducing.
  • Repeat these steps in each bedroom in your home. Also, vacuum every piece of furniture and every floor in the home. Wash whatever fabric you can (such as curtains and throw pillows) in hot water and dry on high heat if it’s safe for that particular fabric. 

Knowing how to identify bed bugs and how to find them during the day will help you get on top of an infestation sooner rather than later, so if you think you might have these unwelcome critters in your home, be alert for the signs and call in a professional as soon as you have confirmation that you have them.

Citations and Credits

Featured image by Pexels / Pixabay

Article image by CDC/Harvard University / Wikimedia

Article image by Jeremiah Adams / Flickr

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