Tools to use when inspecting for bed bugs

Some common household tools and items will aid you in your inspection for bed bugs.

It will take a careful and detailed inspection in order for you to determine where the bed bugs are hiding. Eggs and freshly hatched nymphs are as small as one millimeter and transparent so they are easy to overlook. Using the proper equipment and conducting a thorough inspection before you begin any treatment plan will assure the best results. Michigan State University Extension has partnered with the Michigan Department of Community Health to address the bed bug issue.

A flashlight will be a key piece of equipment when conducting your search. Bed bugs usually hide in crevices; without a flashlight you may not see them. Use a bright flashlight (LED is recommended) with fresh batteries.

A magnifying glass is another crucial tool. At one millimeter, most people need a magnifying glass to clearly see bed bug eggs and freshly hatched bed bugs. Get a large magnifying glass to make close-up examinations easier.

You will also need collection containers, such as re-sealable plastic bags, tightly capped vials, small jars, etc. You may need to keep the evidence you find in order to make an accurate identification. A professional is the best judge of whether or not what you have found is actually a bed bug. Most pest management companies will identify pests for free.

Forceps or tweezers will be useful in helping to collect specimens. A probe for checking cracks will also be necessary if cracks and crevices are too deep to see into. You can use a metal spatula, putty knife or thin nail file to drive bed bugs out into the open. You can also make a probe by cutting a long, thin, triangular piece from an old credit-type card. Compressed air can also be used to flush bed bugs from hiding places in tight cracks.

Hand tools may also be necessary to remove access panels or outlet covers to inspect for bed bugs. A selection of screwdrivers, pliers, and an adjustable wrench may come in handy.

Finally, alcohol wipes, baby wipes or alcohol and cotton swabs will be helpful if you find spots that may be bed bug fecal stains or droppings. Wipe the stain with an alcohol swab, wipe, or baby wipe and look for a red or reddish brown color on the wipe. This will help you distinguish between bed bug droppings and dirt/lint or other matter according to the Michigan Manual for the Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs.

For information on how to prevent or treat bed bug infestations, visit the Michigan Department of Community Health website,

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