How to tell if you have bed bugs

Do you have bed bugs? Expert reveals the tell-tale signs to look out for amid fears Paris outbreak could make its way to UK

  • Experts have shared their top tips for preventing and treating the pests 
  • READ MORE: France suffering from an alarming surge in bed bugs

France has been victim to a spate of ongoing bedbug infestations, so it’s more important than ever that Britons know how to tackle the pesky insects.

Not only will an infestation of the pests put a dampener on your holiday, but they can also hitch a ride on your clothing, luggage or personal items, making an unwanted souvenir in your home.

Bedbugs can be frustratingly persistent if not dealt with when they find a home in your furniture. 

Their bites can result in irritating rashes on your face, neck or arms. While a lack of hygiene can lead to infestation, the greatest risk is unknowingly bringing them into your home yourself.

Once you have invited them in, you face an uphill battle to evict them. However, Bedroom furniture expert at Online Bedrooms, Nic Shacklock, explained that prevention is better than cure, and revealed the tell-tale signs. 

Experts have revealed their top tips to prevent and treat pesky bed bugs as an outbreak in France leaves Brits at risk 

Musty Odour 

Bed bugs are tiny brown insects that feed on blood, usually at night.

The troublesome critters are known to hide in places like bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture and even behind pictures.

A key indicator of an infestation is a musty odour whenever they are around in large numbers, Nic told the Sun..

Although hotel rooms and homes have a distinct smell, Nic advises you put your nose to the test.

He explained: ‘If the bedroom area has a strong, musty and unpleasant odour this could possibly come from a bed bug’s scent glands’.

If the area doesn’t smell right, investigate and take action right away. You can also check the room for other signs on the list.

Bed bug shells and white eggs 

One sure sign you have a bed bug invasion, is the sight of clusters of tiny white spots.

Look out for the bed bug eggs which are small in size and white in colour, and can be smooth and pearly to the touch.

Although bed bug eggs can be found as single eggs, they are most often in clusters.

They are similar in size to a grain of salt and are shaped like a barrel, so when scattered across a white mattress they can be exceptionally difficult to spot.

Consider keeping your room cool as the lower the temperature, the longer it may take for an egg to hatch.

Bed bug eggs normally hatch within 10 days, so get rid of them before they hatch.

Blood-stained sheets 

Specks of blood around your bed is one of the earliest signs your room has been invaded by bed bugs.

They are unlikely to pester you in the day time, and usually only come out when you’re asleep at night.

Blood spots may appear when you inadvertently squash a bed bug by rolling around in your bed, as when this happens they release a lot of blood.

However, if the bug hasn’t recently fed, you might see a yellowish-brown smear of bed bug organs instead.

Check your comforters, bedsheets and pillows for small dots or stains which are reddish-brown in colour.


Bed bug bites can be stressful and extremely itchy, but they are not known to transmit diseases.

If you fail to spot the critters lurking nearby, red marks or rashes on your body could be an indicator that they are indeed present, warns expert Nic.

He added: ‘The bites will often form a straight line across a part of your body, this is a hallmark bed bug trait’.

Explaining the reason behind her logic, she said: ‘So if I ever get another one from a bed bug, I’ll know exactly what it is’. 

What are the signs of bedbugs in your room?

  • Small bugs or tiny white eggs in the crevices and joints of your furniture. 
  • Bites on your skin.
  • Tiny black spots on your mattress.
  • Shells which the bugs have shed.
  • Blood spots on your sheets – these can occur if you squash a bug after it has fed 
  • An unpleasant, musty scent. 
  • They tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep. 


Beg bug outbreak in France 

The panic around bedbugs isn’t new, but calls for Brits to avoid travelling to France has made people anxious about the little bugs.

French hotels and Airbnb’s are suffering from an alarming surge in bed bugs with one in ten of the country’s households now infected.

A survey found that 11 per cent of French households have been struggling to deal with outbreaks of blood-sucking insects between 2017 and 2022.

The research, conducted by the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), suggested that the tourism industry is largely to blame for the surge in infestations.

Beds used by a frequent turnover of visitors in places such as hotels are prone to infestations.

Pest control expert, Scott Hyslop, Director of PEST UK, has revealed a small investment travellers can make to protect themselves against bed bugs. 

Having bedbugs is almost entirely down to luck because ‘it has nothing to do with hygiene’, he said. 

If you know that you have bedbugs in your home, and are being bitten, Mr Hyslop recommends one investment which could be a huge help.

He added that if the bugs have burrowed themselves into your mattress, a mattress protector can trap them there, without actually killing them. 

These can cost as little as £5, although prices vary. 

If you are wondering how bedbugs get in in the first place, one of the most common ways, especially in the UK where they are slightly less common, is if they are brought in from luggage after a holiday.

The first thing you do after a long journey when arriving at your hotel might be to throw your suitcase under the bed and lie down, but Mr Hyslop revealed that this could be a crucial mistake.

As hotel beds can be such a haven for bedbugs given the frequent turnover of visitors, putting a suitcase under there is effectively an open invitation for your journey back. 

Once you return from the location that you suspect has the pests, check your luggage immediately.


Bedbugs are often resistant to insecticides and therefore difficult to rid yourself.

If you suspect an infestation, contact your local council or pest control service.

Wash affected bedding or clothing at 60°C or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least half-an-hour. 

Alternatively, put bedding in a plastic bag in a freezer for four days.

Although bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, keeping the house clean helps you spot them early on.

To avoid an infestation, do not buy secondhand furniture without inspecting it properly first.

And don’t take luggage or clothing inside if you have traveled from a place where you suspect there may be bedbugs. 

Source: NHS Choices 

The pest expert said: ‘As a prevention the main thing we suggest is that when people get home they wash their clothes.’ 

Another common way that bedbugs are brought in to people’s homes is through second-hand furniture, so if you buy any, be sure to check it before taking it inside.

Even new furniture is worth a look, because it may have been in transit with older items. 

Scott reiterates Aly’s view that if you notice bed bugs in your house, you will most likely need professional help, and they will come in and treat the infected areas with professional-grade insecticides.

Do not be tempted to use insecticides yourself, as Mr Hyslop explained: ‘The sprays you can buy are just going to be a knock-down.

‘You will need professional help, there really isn’t anything that will work. 

‘Without the residual insecticide you are just wasting your money.’

In very extreme cases, exterminators might use heat or cold treatments to kill the insects.

Bedbugs thrive at around 30C, but are killed in minutes either above 50C or below -10C.

This knowledge can also be used by us if the infestation is in the right place or on a small enough scale.

If you know the bedbugs, or their eggs, are on clothes or bedding then a hot was and tumble dry should do the trick and wipe them out. 

If you have a steamer, that can be a really handy way to attack bedbugs and kill them in seconds if they are somewhere that you cannot put in a washing machine.

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