RosenBerryRooms is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

What Are Red Bed Bugs? [Know Your Unwanted Sleep Partners]

By: Susie
Updated On: November 6, 2023

Do you wake up with unexplained bites and reddish or rust-colored stains on your sheets? You might be dealing with red bed bugs.

These tiny, nocturnal pests are notorious for their elusive nature, leaving many people stressed out and struggling to tackle these tenacious insects.

As most American households struggle to eradicate them, the importance of understanding these critters becomes clear.

Let's unpack this pest issue together. You’re not alone in feeling frustrated by these invaders; red bed bugs are an ongoing problem that causes headaches for countless homeowners.

Whether you live in a bustling city apartment or a quaint countryside house, no place is safe from their presence. But also something we can combat effectively with the proper understanding and treatment.

What are Red Bed Bugs?

Red bed bugs, also known as Cimex lectularius, are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on the blood of humans or animals while they sleep. They're typically reddish-brown but appear redder after feeding.

They are usually 5-7mm long and have flat bodies. Despite the common misconception, they cannot fly but can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings.

While they don't transmit diseases directly, their bites can lead to skin rashes and allergic symptoms in some individuals.

It's also worth noting that bed bugs are often sign of infestation in homes or accommodations with high turnover guests such as hotels or dormitories.

How Do Red Bed Bugs Look?

Bed bugs are tiny creatures, but with a keen eye, you can spot them. An adult bed bug is about 1/5 of an inch long, comparable to an apple seed.

How Do Red Bed Bugs Look?

Their bodies are oval-shaped and ballooned, bulging more after feeding. Typically, they bear a brown color that changes to rusty red post-feeding.

These bugs have antennae and small eyes; they're wingless but can crawl rapidly.

One major distinguishing feature is their biting segments, known as "proboscis," which they use to pierce the skin and suck blood. Remember this description when scouring your home, especially around your bed and sitting areas.

What are the health risks of Bed Bugs?

While bed bugs are a widely recognized nuisance, it’s less well-known that these tiny pests can also pose significant health risks.

While not all people react to bed bug bites, those who do might experience notable discomfort and even longer-term health issues.

We'll take a deep dive into some of these health concerns related to red bed bugs and help you understand why you should take such an infestation seriously.

Itchy bite marks

The first sign of a bed bug infestation is often the appearance of red, itchy bite marks on your body. Bed bugs inject an anticoagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to feed on their host, usually while you are asleep.

This leads to small, raised bumps that become increasingly red and itchy over time. It can be hard to distinguish the bites from those of other insects, but the clustering of the bites or appearance in lines may suggest bed bugs as the culprits.

Allergic reactions

Some individuals have more serious instances of sensitivity to these bites and may experience allergic reactions.

The severity can vary from person to person. Common symptoms include intense itching and discomfort, followed by wheals (raised areas) on the skin's surface that can become inflamed or infected if scratched repeatedly.

In extreme cases, anaphylaxis, an acute allergic reaction that can be life-threatening, may occur.

Secondary skin infections

Constant itching from bed bug bites often leads to scratching, which opens up the skin for secondary bacterial infections.

Continuous scratching increases your risk for such infections significantly; common examples include impetigo, ecthyma, and lymphangitis.

Secondary skin infections often require medical intervention, including topical or oral antibiotics.

Sleep disturbances

Naturally, sleep disturbances are common during a bed bug infestation due to repeated bite episodes each night, causing discomfort and itchiness in your sleep cycle.

Long-term sleep disruptions can lead to a myriad of health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, and even impaired immunity.

The psychological effect of sharing your bed with these pests can exacerbate sleep disturbances.

Psychological distress

The psychological impact of bed bugs cannot be underestimated. Anxiety, stress, and insomnia are common among those dealing with a bed bug infestation.

The constant worry about being bitten can lead to sleep deprivation and significant emotional distress.

In some cases, it can lead to psychological conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


One lesser-known health risk associated with severe bed bug infestations is anemia. Though rare, persistent and heavy infestations result in significant blood loss that can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.

Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and pallor. Although uncommon, it's worth mentioning this particular risk so you don't overlook serious health implications tied to chronic bed bug problems.

Asthma exacerbation

For individuals who are already diagnosed with asthma or other breathing issues, a bed bug infestation can exacerbate these problems.

The exoskeletons shed by growing bed bugs can become airborne particles, which, when inhaled, can trigger allergenic reactions and worsen asthma symptoms.

A sudden increase in asthma attacks without a clear trigger may be due to such hidden indoor allergens.

Also Read: Which Side To Sleep With Blocked Nose? [Expert Advice For Relief]

Disease transmission

Though concerns exist over the potential for disease transmission by bed bugs, current scientific evidence is limited, serving as a small consolation amidst the challenges they pose.

Bed bugs do carry pathogens like Hepatitis B or C and even HIV; however, no conclusive studies have shown them as vectors for these diseases.

Despite this fact, the interaction of open bite wounds with pathogens in your environment could potentially lead to indirect disease transmission.

Solutions for Red Bed Bugs

Regardless of how clean and tidy you keep your home, bed bugs can still find their way in. Once they do, getting rid of these pests can be a challenge.

Solutions for Red Bed Bugs

With an understanding of various treatment methods and a little patience, removing bed bugs is completely possible. Let's dive into the following remedies:

  • Professional heat treatment: It's one of the most effective ways to treat infestations; it involves specialized equipment that raises your home's temperature high enough to kill bed bugs in all life stages.
  • Chemical pesticides: Many pest control companies use chemicals or pesticides specifically designed to kill bed bugs.
  • Diatomaceous earth: This is a non-toxic powder that kills a variety of insects, including bed bugs. Sprinkle it around areas where you suspect an infestation.
  • Vacuuming: Though it won’t catch eggs or larvae, vacuuming can quickly reduce the number of adult bugs. Focus on seams and crevices when vacuuming.
  • Steam cleaning: High heat produced by the steam will kill both adult bugs and their eggs instantly.
  • Bed bug mattress encasement: A proven prevention strategy, these special mattress covers trap bed bugs inside and prevent them from getting out.
  • Hot wash and hot dryer cycles for infested clothes/bedding: Bedbugs can’t withstand high temperatures over 120°F, so a hot wash cycle followed by a hot drying cycle is good practice for anything that can be machine-washed.
  • Freezing infested items: If some items cannot be washed or are delicate, freezing them at 0°F might help to eliminate these critters.
  • Non-chemical sprays: These typically contain natural compounds that repel bugs without the use of harsh chemicals. They can be successful in controlling smaller infestations when applied regularly.
  • Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs): These interfere with bed bugs' normal development and reproduction, leading to a slower growth rate and eventually causing the population's die-off.
  • Encasements for mattresses and box springs: Similar to mattress encasements, using the ones made for box springs can help trap bugs inside where they cannot escape or feed.
  • Sticky traps or interceptors: These are placed under the legs of furniture, catching bedbugs as they climb up onto the furniture. This method is useful in early detection and monitoring the effectiveness of your other efforts.
  • Essential oil repellents: Certain essential oils like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, or lavender oil can deter bed bugs. Dilute a few drops in water and spray it around your home—especially on your mattress and bedding.
  • Sealing cracks and crevices: Bed bugs love hiding in small spaces. Sealing these areas with caulk prevents them from finding a safe harbor in your living quarters.
  • Disposing of heavily infested furniture/items: Sometimes, the most sensible solution may just be getting rid of items heavily infested by bed bugs. If an item harbors too many hideouts and treatment seems nearly impossible, it is recommended to dispose of such elements responsibly following local waste regulations.

A multi-pronged approach is often most successful when dealing with bed bug infestations since this ensures you’re eliminating both adult bugs and their eggs.

So, arm yourself with patience because getting on top of a situation like this requires perseverance.

Locating Red Bed Bugs: Where Are They Found?

When struggling with a bed bug infestation, understanding their preferred hiding spots is crucial in eliminating these pests.

Bed bugs are small and prefer to conceal themselves in tight cracks and crevices when not feeding. Typical favorite hangouts include mattress seams, box springs, and bed frames.

Mattress Seams and Tags

In your quest to locate bed bugs, start by examining your mattress carefully. Due to their proximity to a ready meal (you!), these unwelcome guests favor the mattress seams and tags as an ideal home base.

Often, they take cover in the tiniest crevices within the seams, making them hard to spot with the naked eye.

These critters tend to feed during the night while you're asleep. After a blood meal, they retreat into the safety of mattress seams, where they digest their meal, mate, and lay eggs.

To avoid uncomfortable encounters with these nuisances during your sleep, thoroughly inspect every seam around the tag area of your mattress.

Box Springs

Let's shift our focus to box springs - another favorite hiding spot for bed bugs. For those who have box springs under their mattresses - you mustn't ignore this sanctuary that bed bugs love.

The hollow space inside a box spring provides multiple hiding spots for these insects. The cloth bottom acts as an easy passage for them to venture between your mattress and base whenever it's feast time.

Treating an infestation involves removing this cloth cover along with a detailed inspection of the interior wood frame. By professionals, ideally, or else you risk scattering the bugs further throughout your home.

Read More: What Is A Box Spring? [Do You Need A Box Spring In 2023?]

Bed Frames and Headboards

Remember that bed frames and headboards also serve as prime real estate for these pests. Unluckily for us humans, many types of furnishings provide just enough nooks and crannies for bed bugs to hide in during the day.

Bed frames, whether they are made of wood or metal, often feature joints, sockets, or even spaces in tubes that can harbor more of these pests than you'd imagine. Check areas where parts connect and dismantle if necessary.

Headboards make another perfect hiding ground. Bed bugs can quietly tuck away inside crevices and behind the headboards while maintaining close enough contact for their nightly feedings.

This includes platform tops, drilled holes, and miter joints where boards come together.

A flashlight is your best friend on this hunt - it will light up those dark corners and crevices where these nocturnal creatures hide.

Remember that successful eradication begins with diligent detection and conducting regular inspections of these areas to tackle any potential infestations promptly.

Cracks and Crevices in Walls

Apart from immediate bedding areas, you'll need to inspect cracks and crevices in walls. These pesky little creatures can easily squeeze into the smallest gaps.

Their flat bodies allow them to disappear into narrow spaces in your home's structure. Use a light to carefully analyze any cracks or holes, especially around windows, floorboards, or where the wall meets the ceiling.

Behind Wallpaper

Few people would think of checking behind their wallpaper. But guess what? Bed bugs can thrive happily behind your walls' covering.

Over time, as wallpaper peels away from the wall due to humidity or damage, it creates an ideal hideaway that provides both safety and warmth for bed bugs.

If your wallpaper is loose or bubbling, it might be a good idea to take a peek behind it.


Your baseboards are yet another common hiding spot for bed bugs. The tiny gap between your baseboard and floor is more than enough space for these sneaky pests.

Their flat bodies allow them to squeeze into anything that allows a credit card to fit.

Examine every inch of your baseboards with a flashlight and magnifying glass to ensure no creepy crawlers are tucked away.

Electrical Outlets and Appliances

Don't overlook electrical outlets as well as small kitchen appliances in your hunt for bed bugs. While it may strike you as unusual, these little pests can indeed crawl inside plug sockets and ensconce themselves snugly until their next feeding opportunity arises.

Appliances that stand on counters, like coffee makers or microwaves, offer dark nooks that provide perfect hideaways for bed bugs.

Furniture Seams and Folds

Aside from beds, furniture is another ideal hideout for these persistent pests. If your living space includes a luxurious couch or cozy armchair near your bed, chances are high that bed bugs might infest them.

These bugs love to dwell within the seams of upholstered furniture and the folds of loose fabric. The deep crevices in recliners or sofas can also house an entire colony of bed bugs unnoticed.

Thoroughly probe all corners of your furniture using a flashlight. Though it's an arduous process, it's also a necessity to ensure you eradicate these bothersome pests.

Explore More: How To Decoupage On Wood Furniture 2023 [A Step-by-Step Guide]

Underneath Carpets and Rugs

Though not an immediately obvious spot, underneath carpets and rugs is another haven for bed bugs seeking refuge near their human hosts.

Especially in bedrooms where carpeting is near beds or in hotel rooms, these bugs may find ideal conditions beneath cozy rugs and carpets to breed unnoticed.

Pay special attention to areas where the carpet meets the wall, as these warm corners make perfect hiding spots.

A careful comb-over along edges or under heavy furniture standing on carpets could reveal hidden signs of these pests.

Window and Door Frames

While significantly less common than mattresses or furnishings, bed bugs can indeed lurk around windows and doorframes, too, especially wooden ones with cracks or gaps where they can hide during daylight hours.

These locations become their choice if overcrowded conditions push them out from traditional hiding spots like mattresses or box springs.

It becomes essential in heavily infested homes to consider less typical places like door and window frames during an inspection.

Curtains and Drapes

Don't overlook your curtains and drapes, especially those surrounding windows close to your bedside.

Similar to other hiding spots mentioned earlier, long curtains touching the floor bring an added advantage for an unnoticed getaway if disturbed during cleaning activities day.

Remember that freshly washed covers won’t be bug-free unless these pests are physically eradicated.

Be sure to inspect the top, back thoroughly, and sides of your drapes, paying special attention to hems and seams where they might lay eggs.

Also Read: How To Choose Curtains For Your Living Room [Expert Advice]

Clutter around the bed or room

Rid your home of any unnecessary clutter. Surroundings with piles of clothes, stacks of books, jumbles of cables or appliances, and even discarded collections of knick-knacks provide ideal hiding places for bed bugs.

The more clutter you have, the harder it becomes to locate and eliminate these pests. Develop a habit of regular cleaning to discourage these unwanted guests from setting up their hideout in your room.

Behind wall hangings and picture frames

You may not imagine that your exquisite wall hangings and picture frames could become a haven for bed bugs. But unfortunately, the tiny gaps behind these pieces are just perfect for them.

Make a cautious routine check behind all wall-mounted items as they go undisturbed for extended periods. This gives bed bugs an uninterrupted environment to reproduce.

In Clothing and Luggage

Your love for travel can sometimes bring along unwanted companions – like bed bugs. They can hitch a ride on your luggage from infested hotels or public transports directly into your home.

Luggage bags stored away after travels are perfect dwelling spots for these crafty critters. Moreover, crammed closets filled with clothing also offer ample hiding spots for them.

Regularly clean and organize these areas to ensure you don't inadvertently provide them with a favorable breeding ground.

Upholstered Chairs and Sofas

If you ever notice inexplicable bug bites when you're seated on chairs or sofas more than when you’re in bed, don’t rule out the possibility that it's still bed bugs at work.

They aren't choosy; they hide in upholstered furniture too, especially if it's frequented by people or pets, providing an easy meal source.

Inspect such pieces thoroughly on a regular basis; check between cushions, within cracks, and around seams.

Also Read: Burrow Nomad Sofa Review 20232023 [I've Used It For 2 Months]

How Much Does Red Bed Bug Treatment Cost?

The cost of bed bug treatment typically varies depending on the severity of the infestation and the size of the area that needs to be treated. Treating one room may cost around $310.

How Much Does Red Bed Bug Treatment Cost?

If you are dealing with an infestation that has spread across your entire home, you may need to spend up to $5,300 for comprehensive treatment.

On average, households spend between $917 and $1,917 on bed bug treatment.

9 Similar Insects that Resemble Red Bed Bugs

You may mistake other insects for bed bugs due to their similar appearance and behavior. This is typical because these pests have developed in parallel environments, leading to similar traits and characteristics.

Two such insects that might be commonly mistaken for bed bugs are baby cockroaches and booklice.

Baby Cockroaches

Baby cockroaches or nymphs can be mistaken due to their small size and color. However, a closer look can reveal important differences.

Health Risks:

  • Allergen build-up: Cockroach allergens are known to trigger bronchial asthma in both children and adults.
  • Disease transmission: Some specific types of microbes carried by cockroaches pose a risk of spreading infections like dysentery, gastroenteritis, salmonellosis, and typhoid fever, among others.


Although cockroaches prefer humid conditions like kitchens or bathrooms, you can find them near your beds if the roach infestation has spread throughout the house. Look out for them in cracks or crevices of furniture near your bed or even behind wallpapers.


Contrary to their name, booklice are not lice and do not feed on human blood but instead thrive on molds or fungi present inside your home.

Health Risks:

  • Allergic reactions: Exposure to booklice might lead people with allergies to develop conditions like watery eyes, rashes, or even asthma.
  • Damage property: Although they aren't directly harmful to humans beyond potential allergenic responses, their presence indicates dampness, which signals potential building issues. Also, their population in large numbers can sometimes damage books and other paper products.


Booklice are common where humidity levels exceed 50%. You may find them near your bed if there's any dampness in the walls or furniture around.

Check damp areas of your home like bookcases, around window frames, behind wallpaper, under carpets, or in mattresses and bedding that might have suffered water damage.

Carpet Beetles

Contrary to their name, carpet beetles can actually be found all around the house, not just in your carpets. These critters are often misidentified as bed bugs due to their small size and quick movement.

Health Risks:

  • Allergies: Carpet beetles don't bite humans, but their tiny hairs can cause dermatitis and allergic reactions in some individuals.
  • Property damage: Although they pose no direct harm to humans, they are destructive pests that can cause severe damage to your apparel, furnishings, and linen.


Carpet beetles love dwelling in hidden areas where they have access to dead insects or animal fibers.

It's strange but true; you might spot these beetles right around your bed if the environment is conducive.

Check under bed carpets or rugs, in the corners of your mattresses, or upholstered furniture.

Spider Beetles

Though they bear a close resemblance to spiders with their round bodies and long legs, spider beetles are an entirely different pest that can sometimes be mistaken for red bed bugs.

Health Risks:

  • While spider beetles aren't known to bite or transmit diseases to humans, they could lead to a serious infestation problem if not dealt with appropriately.


Your bedroom is a likely haven if it contains materials such as woolen fabrics or feathers that they feed on. Check all dark corners of your room and cracks in furniture where these pests typically thrive.

Bat Bugs

With an uncanny resemblance to bed bugs in terms of size and coloration, bat bugs do confuse even seasoned pest control professionals at times.

Health Risks:

  • Bat bugs may bite humans when bats are not available; this can lead to red, itchy bumps similar to mosquito bites.


Areas near bat infestations are most at risk of bat bug sightings. In your bedroom, you may find them on the mattress or bed frame if a bat colony exists within your home, especially in the attic.


Ticks are arachnids known for their feeding habits on blood from humans and other animals. These parasites can be easily mistaken for bed bugs due to their size and similar physical characteristics.

Health Risks:

  • Disease transmission: Ticks are carriers of several diseases, including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, and Babesiosis. These diseases can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, fever, rash, and even neurological complications if left untreated.
  • Tick paralysis: In rare cases, ticks can cause a unique condition known as tick paralysis, with symptoms like weakness or paralysis starting in the lower body.


Ticks usually latch onto hosts in outdoor settings, like grassy fields or forests. Pets or humans can unknowingly transport them indoors.

Once inside homes, they might crawl onto furniture or beds looking for a host.


Fleas are flightless insects that feed by consuming the blood of their hosts. Their small size and biting habits often lead to confusion with bed bugs.

Health Risks:

  • Itchy bites: Flea bites can cause intense itching and scratching, which could potentially lead to secondary skin infections.
  • Disease transmission: Fleas on pets are infamous for causing allergy dermatitis, but they may also transmit diseases such as Cat-scratch disease or Bubonic Plague.
  • Tapeworms: If accidentally ingested during grooming or biting at the site of a flea bite, humans could potentially contract tapeworms.


Fleas often enter homes through pets. They might be found near pet-associated areas, such as pet beds hiding in the fabric folds.

This vicinity to the ground could gradually transfer them onto beds or furniture nearby.

Head Lice

Head lice are small, wingless insects that feed on human blood extracted directly from the scalp. While they have no proven health risks beyond discomfort, confusing them with bed bugs can delay effective treatment.

Health Risks:

  • Itchy scalp: This is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva of lice. The persistent itchiness may lead to open sores and potential bacterial infection.
  • Sleep disturbances: Due to the uncomfortable itching, victims might seem irritable or tired due to lack of proper sleep.
  • Psychological distress: People suffering from head lice infestations may experience stress and embarrassment.


The most common place to find head lice is in human hair. They are also present on clothing or items that come into contact with hair, such as hats, headphones, or bedding.

It's worth examining your pillows and bed linen if you're dealing with a suspected parasite problem.


Mites encompass a wide variety of organisms. These pests vary in size and color depending on their species.

Health Risks:

  • Allergies: Certain mites, like dust mites, can cause allergic reactions, including runny nose, coughing, congestion, and sneezing.
  • Skin Irritations: Some species, like scabies mites,s can cause severe itchiness and rash due to burrowing under the skin to lay eggs.


Most mites prefer warm, moist places, which are abundant in human skin scales. Dust mites often make houses in mattresses or pillows where there's ample availability of human skin scales for food.

As such, bedsheets, mattress covers, and pillows can all harbor these tiny predators.

Proper identification is key when dealing with tiny invaders like these. It allows for swift action and helps avoid prolonged discomfort and unnecessary stress.

By being alert to the signs of these pests, you can ensure a healthier, bug-free home.

Read More: 14 Best Floor Mattress For Peaceful Sleep In 2023 [Top Picks]

FAQs About Red Bed bugs

How can I tell if I have red bed bugs?

Search for physical signs such as live or dead bed bugs, rusty stains on bedding from crushed insects, or dark spots representing bug excrement.

Do red bed bugs transmit diseases?

No, the CDC states that bed bugs do not spread disease, though their bites can cause itchy welts and potentially lead to secondary skin infections due to scratching.

Can you see red bed bugs with the naked eye?

Yes, adult red bed bugs are visible to the naked eye – they're about the size of an apple seed and turn reddish after feeding.

How fast do red bed bugs reproduce?

Extremely fast - a female can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime, which hatch in about ten days.

How can I get rid of red bed bugs?

Several treatments are possible, including professional extermination services, heat treatment, pesticide application, steam cleaning, or mattress encasements.


While tiny invaders like red bed bugs, baby cockroaches, booklice, head lice, and mites can wreak havoc on your peace of mind and comfort, knowing the enemy is the first step to winning the war.

Proper identification allows for both swift and effective action. Remember, armed with knowledge and vigilance, you're well-equipped to maintain a healthier, bug-free home.

If you notice an infestation, it's always advisable to seek professional help immediately. This will not only take care of the current problem but will also prevent future infestations, ensuring you enjoy your personal space pest-free.

Copyright © RosenBerryRooms.Com 2022. All Rights Reserved.
magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram