bed bug droppings

What Do Bed Bug Droppings Look Like?

If you’ve ever wondered if you have bed bugs, the good news is that there are a lot of ways to tell. Bed bugs lay eggs, and like most animals, they also poop. Finding their eggs or their poop is often the first sign you have that there are bed bugs in your home, but you have to first know what these things look like. Bed bug poop looks a lot like the feces of other insects. It starts out soft to the touch and a rather faded color. It gets darker and harder the longer it is there, and worst of all, it can be found either in clusters or spread out across a bed cover or elsewhere.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed on mammal blood, and they love to get into the cracks and crevices of furniture, usually bedroom or upholstered furniture. They are about the size of an apple seed – roughly 3 to 7 mm in length – and they are reddish-brown in color. Often, the blood that they take from their victims is left on the bed sheets, along various types of furniture, walls, and the cracks in those walls. If you look closely, it is easy to see bed bugs and their blood or droppings – whatever they decide to leave as a “present” for you. Once you find them one time, you’ll recognize them from then on.

When you think of the word “droppings” as it applies to bed bugs, it refers to the feces, the eggs, and even the larvae itself. Any of these things is considered droppings, and unfortunately, you can find these things anywhere in your home if you have bed bugs. Bed bugs will bite you and make you itch, which is why it is so important to get rid of them as soon as you notice they’re there. A lot of times, you actually notice the droppings before you notice the bugs themselves.

What to Do If You Find Bed Bug Droppings

It can be very disturbing to find bed bug droppings on your furniture, your curtains, and especially your mattress, but if you see even a few clues that there are bed bugs nearby, you can bet that there are a lot more of them than you realize. Sometimes the feces look like tiny black dots, while other times it might be streaked or smeared across the mattress. To say it is upsetting to see this in your bed is an understatement, but if you don’t know for sure if that’s what you just found, there are easy ways to find out.

So how do you know you have droppings from bed bugs in your bed? Here are some things you can do that will let you know you do indeed have bed bugs:

  • If you see a bed bug, catch it with a piece of clear tape, then fold the tape over to kill the bug. You can throw it away at that point or save it to show to your pest person so he or she can know what to do next.
  • Look around for live bed bugs. After bed bugs eat, they go into hiding and along the way, they leave behind their droppings. If you see droppings, therefore, that means they have fed recently and are likely hiding out somewhere.
  • Wet a paper towel and drag it across the spot that looks like poop. It will create a blood mark across the towel if it is old blood.

Bed Bug Appearance and Life cycle

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If you find any type of droppings on your mattress, your bedsheets, or anywhere else, you likely have bed bugs somewhere nearby – and probably a lot of them at that. This means that finding them needs to be your top priority, next to calling in a professional exterminator.

Where Are Bed Bug Droppings Found?

Bed bug poop can be found in any of your furniture and the cracks and crevices in your walls. Beds are where they are found most often – hence their name – but again, after they eat they tend to go and hide somewhere, so if you notice droppings anywhere that you’ve never seen before, there are very likely lots of live bugs located somewhere nearby. If they are on your mattress or bed sheets and you don’t notice them there, they will smear and spread across the mattress or sheets as you lie on your bed, making it worse in the end.

Sometimes, instead of dark colors, bed bug droppings can be a reddish color or even rust-colored. The “smear test” is the best thing you can do to discover if you do indeed have bed bugs. Wet a paper towel (with a regular towel, the stain may not come out) and wipe it across the marks that you find. If it smears or streaks as you wipe it, this is a good indication that it is bed bug droppings. When this happens, you’ll want to get rid of those bed bugs as soon as possible.

Solutions for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

So, you’ve determined that you have bed bugs in your house. Now what? Besides calling an exterminator to make sure every one of them is destroyed, there are a few things you can do while you’re waiting for your appointment with the pest control company to arrive. Below are three of the simplest methods you can use:

  • Vacuum. If you thoroughly vacuum your mattress or anywhere else where you’ve seen bed bugs, this will kill them, but don’t let the bug-filled bag sit around in the vacuum cleaner for days before you throw it out. Throw it out immediately, and make sure the bag is taped up well and placed in a closeable plastic bag before placing it in the garbage can. This is because some of the bed bugs might still be alive, and you don’t want them getting out and inundating your home once again. Also, you need to vacuum both the box spring and the mattress, along with any “hidden” bumps or cracks in the wood of the furniture.
  • Buy a special bed bug mattress cover. They make special mattress covers that are designed specifically to keep bed bugs out of them. Don’t use a standard plastic mattress cover found in a discount store. The covers made for bed bugs fit over the mattress and the box spring, and they serve two purposes: they’ll kill any remaining bugs in the mattress because the bugs will starve, and they’ll prevent any other bed bugs from getting into the mattress.
  • Wash and dry all of your bed sheets. Bed sheets need to be washed in warm or hot water and dried on high heat because this is what kills them. Don’t just wash and dry your sheets – wash all of your bedding, including the pillows, any cloth mattress cover you may have, covers, blankets, and so on. If you can’t clean it, you may have to throw it out, but this is much better than watching bed bugs destroy your sleeping area and your life.

Keep in mind that bed bugs can be found on mattresses, box springs, pillow covers, bed covers, the wood part of the furniture, and even nearby walls, so start by giving the area around your bed a good vacuuming and cleaning, then wait for that professional exterminator to arrive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How big are the droppings of a bed bug?

A: Bed bug droppings are very small, usually no more than 1 mm in size.

Q: What colors can bed bug droppings be?

A: Bed bug droppings start out light in color and can be reddish-brown in the beginning. It starts out as a liquid and light-colored and gets darker in color as it hardens and becomes older, eventually turning dark-brown or black.

Q: What does bed bug poop look like, in general?

A: They start out looking like small dots, or a group of dots close together, but they can spread or smear at any time.

Q: Are bed bug droppings more common during certain times of the day?

A: Yes. You are more likely to see bed bug droppings in the morning because bed bugs usually leave behind their droppings sometime during the night. But it is good to remember that droppings can be found at any time of the day or night.

Q: Are there more natural ways to kill bed bugs?

A: Yes. Bed bugs hate certain essential oils, so if you put a few drops of lavender, peppermint, oregano, or grapefruit oil in a diffuser and run that diffuser as often as you can, they are almost certain to stay away.

Q: Are the chemicals used by pest-control specialists safe to use when killing bed bugs?

A: Yes. More than 300 chemicals are certified to be safe when killing bed bugs, and your local exterminator knows what they are.


Learning to recognize bed bug droppings is the first step to getting rid of these annoying pests, and they are easy to recognize once you know what you are looking for. Even better, once you recognize them you can more easily get rid of them, and this should be your number-one goal when you spot bed bug droppings.

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