Is It Possible To Only Have One Bed Bug? (Find Out Now!)
It is very common for people to unknowingly bring bed bugs into their home and if they’re not detected quickly, you could end up with a full-scale infestation. Like cockroaches, bed bugs are considered one of the most difficult household pests to eradicate completely. However, is it possible to only have one bed bug in your home?
While it is possible, it is incredibly unlikely for there to really be only a single bed bug in your house. Oftentimes, finding just one bed bug is often a symptom of an infestation. Even if you did happen to pick up one male bed bug on your travels, it’s always best to assume that there is an infestation, as these pests are tiny and very good at concealing themselves.
With that said, let’s take a deeper look at the implications surrounding finding one bed bug in your house. We’ll explore how to identify if it is, in fact, a bed bug, the common signs of an infestation, and the most likely places that they’ll hide in your home.
How Do Bed Bugs Get into the Home?
According to research performed by the University of Arkansas, the overall bed bug population has grown each year since 2004. These pests have officially earned epidemic status in the United States and while they exist in every state, bed bugs have the highest infestation rates in Illinois, Florida, Ohio New York, and California.
This means that if you reside in the United States, there’s a strong chance that you’ll have to deal with bed bugs at some point during your renting or owning experience. So, with this in mind, how do bed bugs make their way into house in the first place? Since bed bugs cannot fly or jump, they travel via people. They move around by attaching themselves to things like:
- Suitcases and luggage
- Backpacks and purses
- Gym bags
- Second-hand furniture items
- Any item in your bedroom
- Areas of the home where humans don’t move much, such as the couch
Essentially, any type of dwelling where humans spend a good chunk of time can become infested by bed bugs. Some of the most common places for bed bugs to take up residence include:
- Apartments, condos, and houses
- Hotels, motels, and resorts
- Homeless shelters
- College dormitories
- Nursing homes
While these are generally the most common places that bed bugs like to infest, they will also infest offices, schools, hospitals, public transportation, movie theaters, and anywhere else that humans frequent. Understanding how a bed bug made it into your home is helpful, but not always possible. You may have brought it home from somewhere, or someone else could have carried it in with them.
How to Identify a Bed Bug
If you’ve discovered a mysterious bug in your home, before you jump to conclusions, keep in mind that there are numerous bugs that all look similar. First, you need to know that it is, in fact, a bed bug, and then you can act accordingly. That said, what exactly do bed bugs look like?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bed bugs have the following distinguishing characteristics:
- Adult bed bugs are a rust red color and approximately 3/8-inch in size, or roughly the size of an apple seed.
- They are smaller and flatter when unfed and larger and more oval after they’ve had a blood meal.
- Bed bugs tend to congregate in groups.
- They have six legs and a short, segmented antennae.
- Bed bug nymphs are light in color and as small as 1/16th of an inch.
- Their eggs are miniscule, white, and attach to surfaces.
- Bed bugs are covered in small, pale hairs that may only be visible under a microscope.
- They cannot fly, jump, and are wingless but they can crawl pretty fast.
Males vs. Females
Fortunately, if you’ve found a single male bed bug, they cannot lay eggs and the possibility of an infestation may stop there. Females, on the other hand, can carry sperm for four to six weeks, during which time they can produce eggs and lay them every single day. But, how do you tell the difference between the males and the females?
By carefully identifying the bed bug, you’ll be able to tell the sex. Generally speaking, females tend to have a rounded abdomen and a male’s abdomen is pointy. Though, both males and females will look longer and bloated after they’ve fed.
Is it Possible to Only Have One Bed Bug?
Now that you are aware of how bed bugs get into your home and what they look like, is it possible to only have one bed bug? Perhaps you found one in your suitcase, on your couch, or on your bathroom floor. So, could it be that this was the only one and there isn’t an underlying infestation?
Although it’s not impossible, it’s unlikely but the best course of action is to always assume that there is more than one. Bed bugs are very small and do a great job at hiding themselves. So, the more bed bugs that you have in your home, the higher the chances are of you finding any at all – even if it is just one.
Signs of Bed Bugs in the Home
After you found a single bed bug, start by cleaning, tidying, and decluttering your home to reduce their hiding spots. Then, the next step is to look out for signs that you have an infestation on your hands. The following are the main signs of a bed bug infestation to be aware of:
Bed bugs go through five life stages and in order to grow into their next stage they must shed their exoskeleton. With the knowledge of what bed bugs look like, it should be very easy to spot their exoskeletons in your home. Bed bug shells look exactly like exactly like bed bugs – oval, small, and segmented. The only distinction is that the exoskeletons are translucent and paler in color.
2. Eggs and Egg Casings
As previously described, bed bug eggs are very small. In fact, they are roughly the size of a pinhead and translucent-whitish in color, which makes them difficult to spot. To find them in your house, you’ll need a flashlight, a magnifying glass, and a whole lot of patience. They tend to lay their eggs in areas that will go undisturbed by humans. You’ll usually find in clusters, in small cracks and crevices, and glued to surfaces.
3. Bite Marks
If you are someone that reacts to bed bug bits, you’ll know when one has bitten you. Their bites may appear anywhere on your skin that they can get access to while you’re asleep. Though, the most common places to find bed bug bites are on your shoulders, ankles, arms, and feet.
When bed bugs bite they will typically bite you two to three times. It’s common to find a couple bites bunched together, or forming a line. For most, bed bug bites appear like small, flat, pinkish spots, but others can have severe reactions that are painful and raised.
4. Blood Stains
If you have a bed bug infestation, it’s common to find small blood stains in your bed. These pests generate an anticoagulant that is meant to stop your wounds from healing while they feed. A side effect of this anticoagulant is that the bite marks will continue to bleed after the bug has finished drinking your blood.
Inspect your sheets, comforter, and other bedding materials every morning for blood stains. Keep in mind that you still may find blood stains even if you don’t have bite marks, as some individuals don’t react to bed bug bites.
5. Fecal Markings
The fecal matter that bed bugs produce has a very specific appearance. Since their diet is exclusively blood, they only excrete liquid. Instead of being red, bed bug feces can range from dark brown to black and usually looks like small black dots, roughly the size of a marker point. To many, they appear like ink spots.
You’ll usually find these markings where the bugs congregate, in clusters. Inspect soft furnishings, like carpets, mattresses, and curtains for these flat dots. On these surfaces they will soak into the fabric and cannot be wipe clean. Whereas, on hard, non-porous surfaces, the feces will dry as elevated bumps.
Where to Look for Bed Bugs
Now that you know what to look for, where should you look for bed bugs? Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don’t only live in your beds. Instead, they will gather anywhere that is dark, concealed, and provides easy access to feed on humans. Here are the top places to focus your search when looking for bed bugs in your home:
- Bedding, including cushions, pillowcases, sheets, comforters, pillows, and the like.
- Mattress and box springs, as expected.
- Baseboards and walls, especially if your baseboards have a gap at the top or bottom.
- Carpets and rugs, particularly the high-pile variety.
- Curtains and drapes, as bed bugs are good climbers and like to hide in the folds.
- Closets and clothing, including bags, shoes, and suitcases.
- Other furniture and bedroom items.
Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.
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