1. Secure your belongings. Before you look for bed bugs in a new hotel room, store your zipped luggage away from the walls and off the floor and bed. That way if you find any signs of an infestation, you don’t risk taking it with you.
2. Probe their hiding spots. Remove all of the sheets and coverings from the mattress, and check closely along all the seams and on the headboard, especially near the head of the bed, Potter says. You’ll usually find bed bugs closer to the pillows because the heat and carbon dioxide produced by human breath draw them out of hiding.
3. Know what you’re seeking. Look for peppercorn-sized black spots—digested blood secreted by the bugs. This is the easiest way to detect their presence during the day, Hansen says. A variety of indoor bugs—baby cockroaches, for example—are sometimes confused with bed bugs, says Ameya Gondhalekar, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at Purdue University, but adult bed bugs have a distinct look: They are disk-shaped, flat, and reddish-brown. Adolescents are white, almost clear, and red when their abdomen is full of blood. Their eggs, small and white, are almost undetectable to the human eye.