How to Check for Bed Bugs

The Greater Toronto area including Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Scarborough and Oshawa has become a hotspot of bed bug activity and cases have only risen since the COVID-19 pandemic started. People started opting to visit each other in their homes instead of public spaces, bringing the unwanted hitchhikers along with them.

Toronto area homeowners who suspect they may have bed bugs should act quickly to identify the problem and determine if they need to call a pest control service to complete a bed bug removal treatment. Bed bug infestations grow notoriously fast and treating a smaller infestation is significantly easier than a large one. Unfortunately the less conspicuous nature of smaller infestations makes them harder to identify. In this article we will go through the key indicators of an infestation and walk you through how to do your own mattress check to determine if you are sharing your sleeping quarters with bed bugs.

Can bed bugs fly?

No – bed bugs cannot fly nor can they jump. Phew! They are also quite slow maxing out their speed at about 3 to 4 feet per minute. This is likely why most bed bugs don’t stray more than 30 feet from where they are feeding.

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs are very good at staying hidden and come out to feed only when you are resting. This is why actually seeing a bed bug isn’t the most reliable way to tell if there’s an infestation. It is also easy to mistake them for carpet beetles or other insects. If you have already noticed a creepy crawly around your home look for these key traits to know if it may be a bed bug.

  • 2 – 5 mm long depending on the age
  • Flat oval shaped body
  • Adults have consistent reddish brown colour
  • Young nymphs are either colourless or a light yellow colour all over
Bed bug


Look for uniform colouration all over the body. Many other beetles, including carpet beetles have speckled patterns on their backs.

Carpet Beetle
Carpet Beetle – Source: Udo Schmidt – Anthrenus verbasci

What do bed bug bites look like?

Contrary to what you may think, noticing red bites on your skin is not a concrete sign of bed bugs. Small red bumps could be caused by other insects such as mosquitos, or be related to eczema or hives. The reason their bites are so hard to identify is because everybody’s body reacts to them differently and on some people they are not visible at all. This is why the best way to tell if you have bed bugs is a mattress inspection.

Can I starve out bed bugs?

Bed bugs can live for months without a blood meal and in some laboratory experiments they have survived over a year without eating! Trying to starve out bed bugs is not an effective solution to an infestation.

How to check for bed bugs?

To perform a bed bug mattress check you’ll want to use a flashlight and a rigid flat tool such as a credit card or paint scraper to help pry open and illuminate small cracks. Bed bugs like to hide in very small spaces and this is where you will find the clearest evidence of them. Bed bugs are primarily found in mattresses and in the cushions of furniture that is used frequently. Start your search there and then expand to other common hiding spots as listed below.

Common Bed Bug Hiding Spots:

  • Seams and tags of mattresses
  • Seams and joints of upholstered furniture
  • Between pillows
  • Between carpeting and the walls
  • In the folds of curtains
  • Around the the edge of the ceiling especially in the corners
  • Around electrical sockets
Bug bed mattress inspection

As you do your search look for the following:

  • Blood stains
  • Black feces spots
  • Eggs & Molted skins

Blood Stains

Small reddish brown blood splotches are created when a bed bug gets crushed, usually from someone sitting or lying down on it. Look for them on your sheets and mattress especially.

Feces spots

Black spots about the size of a pen tip are a sign of bed bug feces. They also bleed like a marker would on fabric. Look for them everywhere in your search on your sheets and mattress and in all the crevices in which bed bugs might hide.

Eggs & Molted skins

Eggs are also roughly the size of the tip of a pen (1mm) and pale yellow in colour. You may find them whole or crushed as they are molted and discarded when a bed bug matures. Look for these in all the bed bug hiding spots listed above.

Common bed bug signs

If you do spot some of these signs it’s time to contact your local pest control experts. They will be able to confirm whether you have bed bugs or not and work with you to find a solution that fits your situation. Bed bugs are notoriously hard to control and an infestation can grow rapidly so time is of the essence.

Terminix uses safe & non-toxic bed bug treatments to effectively eliminate bed bug populations of any size and severity. We offer expert pest control services across Canada including BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Call us today to learn how we can help.