A few years ago a client I was advising in prevention measures called me in a panic as she found half a bed bug in her bedroom. The client worked in a high risk social services environment so it was plausible that a bed bug made it to her home. On the other hand she was taking all the proper prevention measures such as ensuring all work clothing was heat sterilized. I advised her to set up the glueboard/ tuna can traps under her bed legs and zero bugs were caught. She was still panicking so I was invited to do an inspection.
When I arrived at the home I positively identified the specimen and started the inspection process of the home. I found zero evidence of bed bugs. I then started thinking about the half a bed bug. I did know that bugs do not break into pieces very easily – they usually smear when crushed. But bugs that are heated in my trailer gain a consistency of corn flakes and break into many pieces when handled. As such I theorized that my client had picked up a bed bug at work but her prevention strategies had heated (and broke in half) the bug in her dryer. When she folded the clothes on her bed the half a bug fell on the floor, was discovered, and caused panic. It is now a year later and there still are no bugs. This was an example of successful bed bug prevention.
A friend of mine that I treated for bugs several years ago recently had a similar experience. A complete dead bed bug was discovered on the floor. But was this an old bug or a new bug? I suggested that my friend try breaking the bug in half and it crumbled into little pieces. As such I reassured my friend that the panic levels could go down. The bug probably died years ago and now fell off a couch onto the floor.
I had a pan of bed bugs that had been dead for a few months so I decided to do an experiment. I tried to crush these bugs and they also crumbled into little pieces. So what do we learn? If you find a dead bed bug try crushing it. If it crumbles it was either heated or it died several months ago. If it smears you can resume panicking.