Don't Sleep on Bed Bugs, These Tiny Insects are Nothing to be Ignored

With an infestation rate trailing only New York City, bedbugs are making their presence known in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area.

What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are flat, wingless, blood-sucking insects less than ¼” long. They range in color from light brown to reddish-brown. Bed bugs lay up to 540 eggs in a lifetime, and each baby can be ready to ready to reproduce in only 21 days. They are not known to spread diseases. However, bed bug bites can cause itchy welts that may become infected sores when scratched by the victim. Additionally, bed bug infestations may cause considerable psychological distress and embarrassment to their victims as well as being costly and difficult to eliminate.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?
Almost anywhere. From inside floor cracks and under carpets to behind loose wallpaper and in or under mounted light fixtures, bed bugs can be found in dark undistrubed areas. Beds, furniture and clothing are also common spots.

How Do You Know You Have Them?
A person wakes up with multiple red, itchy bite marks on the body. Tiny blood stains or smears appear on the sheets. Bed bugs are seen clinging to furniture, mattresses, or any other hiding spot. A large amount of red-black fecal material is found anywhere bed bugs live. The infested room has a sweet, musty odor that cannot be explained.

Dealing With Bed Bugs
If you have bed bugs, do not panic. They can be contained and eliminated from your home with proper action. Bedbugs are “lazy” insects. They do not run, travel long distances on their own, or fly. In fact, they may stay in the same location without food for up to one year! But, they may crawl into or attach themselves to clothing, luggage, furniture, or any other item a person leaves in an infested area. Wherever this newly infested item is moved, bed bugs can make a new home and stay.
Because bed bugs do not move long distances by themselves, a population can be contained if they are not moved by other means. Do not move new items into the infested room or take items from this room. When items must be removed, they should be stored in trash bags and washed immediately or thrown away outside away from the structure. All laundry and linens, such as bed clothes, mattress covers, pillowcases, curtains, dust-ruffles, throw rugs, and tablecloths need to be removed (in trash bags) and washed immediately. Items should be washed with a strong detergent in the hottest temperature setting possible and stored away from the infested room until the bed bugs are controlled.

Where Can I Learn More?
If you have an established problem with bed bugs in your home or establishment, you should contact a qualified pest management company.
For more information about bed bugs, contact the Community Health and Safety Division of the Fairfax County Health Department: 703-246-2300; TTY 703-591-6435

Fact or Myth?
Fact: Bed bugs are on the rise
Myth: Bed bugs are associated with filth. Truthfully, it does not matter to a bedbug how clean your house is. They are bloodsucking insects and are not attracted to food products.
Fact: Bed bugs do not carry disease. To date, there has been no proof that bed bugs carry disease pathogens or are able to transmit blood related disorders.
Myth: Bed bugs chew their way into your mattress or bore their way into your furniture. Truthfully, bed bugs cannot chew at all. They have mouthparts much like that of a mosquito. Therefore, they will only be found on the outside of your mattress, provided there are no holes already there. They also can crawl in between furniture seams, where two pieces are nailed together, but don’t create new holes in furniture.

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