Over the years I’ve had numerous calls from customers asking if it’s possible to have just one bed bug, as they’ve found only one and want to know if there could be more, or if this one bed bug means an infestation?
These are certainly valid questions and catching bed bugs early is vital, but the first thing that is needed is to make sure it’s definitely a bed bug.
IS IT A BED BUG OR SOMETHING ELSE?
People often think they’ve found a bed bug if they see a bug in the bedroom, and it VERY often turns out to be a similar-looking bug. There are lots of bugs that can find their way in that can be mistaken for bed bugs.
So it’s really important to correctly identify if it is a bed bug as there’s nothing worse than worrying unnecessarily that you might have an infestation.
On this site, you’ll find some great pictures of bed bugs that will help you identify if what you have found is this unwanted pest.
What do bed bugs look like? Adult bed bugs are small, long, and oval-shaped similar in shape and size to an apple seed. They have six legs and two antennae.
When unfed they are a light brown color and flat, but once they have had a blood meal and are engorged they become a darker brown/reddish color and the 11 segments on the abdomen expand and elongate giving them a striped appearance.
Baby bed bugs, or nymphs, are semi-translucent and are often missed because of this when searching for them. However, when they feed their abdomen fills with blood and becomes darker in color, so they are easier to spot.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE ONLY ONE BED BUG?
DOES ONE BED BUG MEAN AN INFESTATION?
Yes, it is possible to have one bed bug. And no, one bed bug does not mean you have an infestation.
Sometimes a single bed bug can hitchhike its way back to your home by crawling into your backpack, luggage, or hiding on your clothes. This is easily done if you’ve recently traveled by plane or another mode of public transport or stayed in a hotel.
It’s also possible to pick up a stray bed bug if you’ve visited places that have waiting rooms, for example.
If you’ve found the bed bug soon after returning from a holiday, then it is possible to have only one bed bug.
But, the one bed bug found could be:
- another bed bug
- a single, non-fertile bed bug
- a single, fertilized (pregnant) bed bug
Obviously, a single, non-fertile bed bug is what you hope it would be as it can be dealt with quickly.
But bed bugs reproduce every 7-10 days, so if it’s a fertilized female that has traveled back with you then this needs dealing with immediately as this one bed bug could cause an infestation.
PLEASE NOTE, if you live in an apartment building, then this could be a bigger issue as a neighbor may have an infestation and the bed bug has made its way into your apartment. In this case, you won’t have just one bed bug and an exterminator will need to be called.
Bed bugs are expert hiders and you need to be sure that although you’ve only found one bed bug, there isn’t more, and the only way to do this with a thorough investigation.
BED BUG HIDING SPOTS
WHERE DO YOU CHECK FOR BED BUGS?
Bed bugs have harborage areas close to where we sleep mainly within 6 feet of the bed, but they also have other hiding places that you need to know about.
They are attracted to the CO2 we breath out as well as our body heat, so this is why an estimated 70 – 85% of the bed bug infestation is found on the bed as they stay close to their food source.
So it makes sense to begin your search for other signs of bed bugs on the bed starting by removing the bedding from the mattress and inspecting the seams for actual bed bugs, eggs, or blood spots.
I cannot stress how important this is and needs to be thoroughly carried out and our detailed guide shows you step-by-step how to do this.
The same then needs to be done for the box spring, headboard, bed frame, and the bedding that was on the bed.
When you have finished the bed, the remainder of the room then needs to be thoroughly inspected as the remainder of the infestation can be found in other areas such as:
- underneath wallpaper
- in carpets
- upholstered furniture
- behind electrical switch plates
Bed bugs are flat when unfed and the width of your credit card so even a tiny crack in the wall can be a hiding and breeding area and can so easily be missed.
Looking for bed bug hiding spots takes time and should not be rushed.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU STILL ONLY FIND ONE BED BUG?
If after all your search efforts you’ve still found only one bed bug (and killed it) and haven’t found any other signs of an infestation, that hopefully means you only had one bed bug.
But remaining vigilant is vital here, as mentioned above, bed bugs reproduce every 7-10 days and the newborn nymphs will be looking for a blood meal straight away.
So carry out another search around this time, and if you still find nothing then you should be in the clear.
But if you do find any signs (or have noticed welts on areas of your skin that are not covered by bedding), then you need to deal with this immediately as bed bugs can be difficult to get rid of.
If you find the infestation is in the early stage then you can treat it yourself, but it’s always advisable to contact a pest control company that is experienced in dealing with bed bugs, so you can be sure they have been eradicated.
Anthony O’Neill, Licensed Pest Control Professional
I’ve been in the pest control industry helping people get rid of their unwanted pests for over 20 years, both in the UK and Canada.
As a licensed pest control technician I’ve seen and treated just about every common household pest, insect or rodent, you can think of. I’ve seen the damage caused when an infestation has been left too long and has become hard to get rid of.
For this reason, peststopsolutions.com was created. By having honest advice and the right guidance to hand, along with scientific evidence to back up claims, you are given information on the best eradication methods, as well as how to get rid of most pests yourself.