What are bed bugs?
Bed bug is the common name for Cimex lectularius
, a reddish-brown, oval-shaped insect that can grow to a quarter of an inch long. Bed bugs are wingless and survive by sucking blood from a host animal, preferably a human.
Why are they called bed bugs?
Bed bugs commonly hide in mattresses, carpets, behind peeling paint or wallpaper, and in crevices in wooden furniture. Bed bugs like the nighttime and typically bite people while they sleep, usually just before dawn.
Why are bed bugs coming back?
With the use of broad-spectrum pesticides such as DDT, in the 20th
century, many varieties of pests were nearly eradicated. Concerns about health and the environment led to many of these broad-spectrum pesticides being removed from the market. Today, pest control methods are more focused, designed to kill a particular species (like cockroaches). Bed bugs, since they are not specifically being treated for, they are reestablishing their numbers.
Bed bugs are known to be in bedrooms, hotel rooms and
dorm rooms, but a recent edition of Dateline NBC now cautions consumers that Bed
Bugs may also be lurking in the mattresses you buy at the store.
The program specifically pointed out reconditioned mattress's that are
being sold as treated or new and among some of the things they found in the
mattress's were bed bugs.
View the video
Dateline NBC - Bed Bugs
Bedbugs are nocturnal, so they easily avoid detection during the day, thus allowing
populations to grow.
● Bedbugs prefer tight spaces so they will hide in every crack & crevice within a room or wall void.
● Egg to adult development ranges from 5 – 8 weeks to 8 months, meaning bedbugs can live well beyond traditional treatment programs.
● The lifespan of bedbugs can last 6 months to 1.5 years.
They can go into a dormant stage and reappear several months later.
● Female bedbugs lay eggs in batches of 10 – 50, producing 200-500 during their lifespan. Uncontrolled populations can
grow very rapidly.
● Bedbug females cement eggs into cracks, crevices and wall voids, enhancing survival rates of eggs by avoiding commonly treated areas
● Bedbugs can go with feeding for 80-140 days creating a false sense of control due to lack of reported bits.
● Bedbugs travel within wall voids making room-to-room movement very lkely. Hiding in wall voids makes control very
● Besides humans, rodents, birds, and pest act as hosts, causing the infestation to move around a structure.
How are bed bugs being spread?
Bed bugs are great at traveling and are quite comfortable stowing away in luggage or clothing. They are increasingly found in urban hotels in America. Since they tend to stow away and travel with humans, any place that sees a number of world travelers is susceptible. Pilots, wealthy people, and business travelers can bring bed bugs along unwittingly.
How can I avoid bed bugs?
Look around. Bed bugs are large enough to see. Look particularly under the mattress and in the seams, in and around the bedframe, and along any cracks or peeling paint in the wall or picture frames. Check in the cracks of any wooden furniture, particularly antiques. You can also spot bed bugs droppings, which may be tinged with blood.
What to do if you are bitten by bed bugs?
Bed bugs bite exposed skin and leave behind small, red, itchy welts. Bed bugs are not generally thought to transmit any diseases. The damage is more emotional than physical. The CDC does say that bites from bed bugs can be treated with topical emollients or corticosteroids. You can also take an oral antihistamine.
Learn how to identify Bed Bugs and their bite with this informative Bed Bug Fact Sheet
by Dr. Gary Alpert (Harvard School of Public
Below is a close-up of what to look for when inspecting mattress and bedding while traveling. Watch for spots of blood and waste on the cloth.
Below is a close-up of a Bed Bug hiding and nesting area, egg casings and Bed Bug waste can be found in high concentrations.
Infestations of bed bugs are on the increase...
Human bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are found all over the world and are constantly being dispersed via used furniture, luggage and bedding. During the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of bed bug infestations reported from homes, resort hotels, apartments, domatories and cruise ships. The challenge is to correctly identify bed bugs, prevent their spread, and eliminate bed bugs from housing units. We want you to understand the symptoms of bed bug bites, how to prevent bed bugs and how to get rid of bed bugs if you do get infested.
How to identify bed bugs?
Immature bed bugs are light yellow in color unless they have recently fed on blood and then they are darker in the middle. Adults are reddish brown and they also turn darker after a blood meal. Even though bed bugs are small, about 1/5 th of an inch, they can be readily seen with the naked eye. They are wingless, oval and flattened in appearance and crawl at a steady rate.
Bed bugs are active at night when they leave their daytime resting place deep inside cracks and crevices to seek out human blood. Adult male and female bed bugs, as well as nymphs (young), feed on blood. By checking the bed linen in the middle of the night you have the best opportunity to find bed bugs on the move. Bed bug bites are normally two or three in a row and often blood spots are deposited on the sheeting. Any nearby crack or crevice can serve as a daytime refuge for bed bugs. Look for bed bugs under folds in mattresses, along seams and in between bedposts and bed slats. When large numbers of bed bugs are present, they produce a distinctive pungent odor. Numerous dark fecal spots on linen or near cracks are another indication of a bed bug infestation.
Bed bug biology and behavior
After feeding, a female bed bug will lay eggs in their daytime refuge of cracks and crevices. An immature bed bug may take several months to mature to an adult and an adult bed bug can live for up to one year. During development, the young bed bug will feed frequently on the blood of humans and they can exist for many months between blood meals. Bed bugs inject saliva into the blood stream of their host to thin the blood and to prevent coagulation. It is this saliva that causes the intense itching and welts. The delay in the onset of itching gives the feeding bed bug time to escape into cracks and crevices. In some cases, the itchy bites can develop into painful welts that last several days. The good news is that this insect is not known to transmit human disease.
Spiders, mites, ticks, mosquitoes or even lice can also cause itchy bites, and these pests require different control methods.
How to control bed bugs
The first step in control is to eliminate the possibility of bed bugs physically climbing over a mattress or bed to feed. Pull the bed away from shelving or the wall and coat the legs of the bed with a band of Vaseline or mineral oil with a band about 2 inches wide. Use effective means to prevent or exclude bed bugs from the sleeping area. This could include keeping a zone around the bed “bed bug-free” by careful examination and removal of bed bugs with a stiff brush and vacuum and by caulking cracks and by placing a barrier of chalk or silica aerogel around the bed posts at floor level. Double-sided carpet tape may be effective in trapping bed bugs and excluding them from sleeping areas.
In Massachusetts, Gentrol and Phantom are registered pesticides for bed bug control and can be applied by professional pest control contractors. Gentrol contains the active ingredient (S)-Hydroprene, an insect growth regulator (IGR) that disrupts the normal growth and development of cockroaches and stored product pests, drain flies and fruit flies, as well as bed bugs. Phantom® uses an active ingredient known as chlorfenapyr. It is non-repellent and relatively long-lasting. If residual pesticides are applied, the base of the bed legs is a good place to begin. Mattresses should not be treated with insecticides.
Rather than replacing one mattress with another that is also likely to become infested, consider encasing the mattress with a bed bug tight cover. Bed bugs inside the cover will be unable to feed and will die out.
Since freezing weather will kill bed bugs, you may be able to place suspect furniture outdoors during the winter for a period of time to eliminate an infestation. Do not bring used furniture into the home unless it can be visually inspected in side and out as bed bug free. It is important not to abandon infested furniture and mattresses without first marking them as infested with bed bugs.
Frequently asked questions
Can I bring bed bugs home on my shoes?
Unlikely, bed bugs are active at night, during the day they are hiding in cracks and crevices. Bed bugs are more likely to be spread via pillows, mattresses, bed linen and bedroom furniture.
Can cold kill bed bugs?
Yes, although the temperature must drop fast, stay below freezing for several days and the bed bugs must not be too deep inside insulated objects.
How can I determine if my bites are caused by bed bugs?
Itchy bites can be caused by mites, mosquitoes, fleas, lice and plants. To be absolutely
sure, consult a professional.