Bed bugs are the smooth criminals of the insect world. They will hide in your bedding and bite you in your sleep, waking you to no evidence to prove you’ve suffered a pest attack and leaving you in doubt as to how to proceed.
Luckily, they do leave droppings in the scene. If you know what bed bug poop looks like and where to look for it, you’ll be able to tell whether it’s the bed bug that’s bothering you. Stick around to find out what the tiny pest’s feces look like and what to do if you’ve found some.
Identifying Bed Bug Feces
Here’s a quick guide on how to spot and identify bed bug droppings on your own.
Where to Go Looking for It
Since our bedrooms are generally the preferred retreat of bed bugs, it’s there that you should start looking for the buggers’ poop. Use a fleshlight to examine the mattress and inside the box spring, the area in and around the nightstand, any cracks and crevices, wallpaper that’s come loose, near and behind baseboards, and the like.
How to Identify Bed Bug Feces
“What does bed bugs poop look like?” is one question you need to answer before you can be positive whatever you have found in your bedroom signifies bed bug presence.
Some people state that the critters actually poop blood. This is partly true because bed bugs’ diet consists of blood that they get from their hosts, but it has to be digested before it leaves the body. That is, if you see something that looks like a bloodstain, it’s unlikely to be bed bug poop. Chances are it’s what remains of a crushed freshly fed bug, though.
Instead, actual droppings appear a very dark rusty to almost black depending on the light. Since blood has large water content, they are semi-liquid. They also don’t have the shape that most people associate with poop because the bugs tend to release what they have digested on the go, so the feces get smeared.
Since they contain a lot of liquid, they can also soak into fabric, such as on mattresses or pillowcases, which ends up looking very much like a stain that a ballpoint pen would leave. The average size is similar, as well.
Looking at some bed bug poop pictures is a good way of understanding what to look for, especially if you expect fecal matter left by other insects to be present.
The most likely misidentification options are cockroaches, rodents, and bats. However, rats, mice, bats, and squirrels all leave oblong, hard droppings. Cockroach poop resembles ground pepper; it is hard and, unlike bed bugs’, notoriously sticks to walls.
Bed Bug Excrement Dangers
In case you’ve found bed bug droppings in your house, you may be alarmed because of possible associated risks. The good news is bed bugs don’t spread disease, though. Yet, the nasty-looking stains and smears left by these critters contain histamine, which can also cause allergy-like reactions in us humans.
The reason for this is that our bodies produce histamine naturally when confronted by a substance that provokes allergy. This means you’ll have to get rid of bed bug poop, or you might experience symptoms such as itchiness and/or asthma over time.
Removing Bed Bug Fecal Stains
The cleaning procedure largely depends on what kind of material the poop is on.
Once you’ve spotted bed bug poop on sheets, don’t hesitate to blot it with cold water. High temperatures will cause the stains to set.
Enzyme-based fabric stain removers can also prove effective when used according to the label, or you can use hydrogen peroxide for 10 to 15 minutes if the specks appear particularly stubborn. Please mind that the latter treatment can lighten the fabric!
Since bed bugs might be hiding in the sheets, it’s advisable to launder these at 122 °F to kill the pests, although this will only work as part of a larger bed bug control program.
If you have found bed bug poop on painted walls, wallpaper, or wood, try using cold water and wiping it with a dry clean rag. A commercial wood stain remover can solve the problem if the stain won’t go after washing.
Does Bed Bug Fecal Matter in My House Mean I Have an Infestation?
Simply speaking, bed bug feces means bed bug presence. Look for other warning signs if you’ve found some:
- bed bug parts/shed cuticles;
- bloodstains from crushed insects;
- a “dirty wet rag” musty smell;
- small itchy bites that appear during the night.
Bed Bug Feces FAQ
Here are brief answers to common questions about bed bug poop in our homes.
Do bed bug feces wipe off?
They do when fresh, but they also tend to smudge on contact with water, so be careful if you’re dealing with fabrics. It’s best to launder the sheets anyway.
What is the first sign of bed bugs?
Itchy bites during the night are an important sign that you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation. Raised red bumps are common.
Where do bed bugs poop?
Bed bugs leave their droppings on any soft furnishings and fabrics as well as in and around cracks and crevices, baseboards, power outlets, etc.
Bed Bug Poop: Act on the Evidence
Knowing how to identify bed bug feces is a big step towards detecting and fighting off an infestation. If you have a reason to suspect that you have bed bugs or just want to be proactive, look for these inkspot-like droppings on the sheets and around crevices and be sure to take action in case you find some. Remember that living with a lot of bed bug poop in your home is associated with health risks!
Have you ever dealt with bed bugs? If yes, how did you spot them? Tell us in the Comments section!
- Bed Bug Fact Sheet (New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Consumer and Environmental Health Services Public Health, Sanitation and Safety Program):
- How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation (Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech):
- Bed Bugs FAQs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
- 1 Identifying Bed Bug Feces
- 2 Bed Bug Feces FAQ
- 3 Bed Bug Poop: Act on the Evidence