Can Bed Bugs Live in Mattresses and Pillows?

Picture of Bed Bug Nymphs

Bed Bug Infestations

As humans are the primary host of the bed bug (a nocturnal parasitic insect), the majority of bed bug occurrences take place in or around the beds of human beings. Bed bugs most often feed on humans in beds, which results in pillows, mattresses, and blankets serving as the prime habitats for the insects.

The bite of the bed bug is virtually undetectable and offers no real sensation to its prey. Access to dormant human specimens during peak hours of activity make any crack or crevice of beds an excellent harborage for bed bugs.

Bed Bug Inspection

Due to the prevalence of bed bugs found in the beds of humans, concerned individuals should take special precautions to ensure infestations don’t occur. Homeowners can take special measures to screen for suspected bed bug infestations.

If an infestation is suspected, a thorough examination of bedding, blankets, pillows, mattresses, and mattress pad covers should be done each and every time before removing the articles to do laundry. A properly conducted inspection of a bed should take around 30 minutes to perform.

How to Perform an Inspection
The best way to perform a bed bug inspection is to use a flashlight and a magnifying glass that magnifies at least 10 times and trace the seams of mattresses, pillows, and folds in frequently used blankets. Bed bugs regularly congregate in the seams and folds of mattresses during the day away from direct light.

Shake out all blankets and note if anything falls out onto the floor or suspect mattress. The same should be done with pillows and pillowcases. Check the folds and seams of pillows and pillowcases.

Be sure to check each and every seam inch by inch. Manually lift up or remove mattresses to check the areas underneath as well as the seams and linings of the box-spring, if applicable.

What To Look For

When searching for bed bugs, homeowners might come across the actual bug itself but will more often find signs of the insect in traces of molted nymphal shells or fecal matter. Investigators might also find blood smears on bed linens or mattresses resulting from crushed bed bugs.

Disposed nymphal shells will look like smaller versions of adult bed bugs, usually brown or yellowish-brown in color. The shells may not appear whole due to damage incurred through human movement during sleep or when changing out sheets. Nymphal shells are regularly found amidst feces.

Bed bug fecal matter is brown or blackish in color and looks like tiny dots to the human eye. Thorough inspection of bedding or other commonly used pieces of furniture may even yield eggs. Early detection of bed bugs may help limit the spread of infestation and makes control strategies much more effective.

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