Bed Bugs: Your Residential Reference Guide

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 reproduce in only 21 days. Bed bugs are a nuisance pest only and are not known to spread disease.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?

  • Flooring: inside floor cracks; under carpets; or under baseboards
  • Walls: behind loose wallpaper; in plaster cracks; in or under mounted light fixtures; and in or under pictures/posters/shelves or other hung items
  • Wall Voids: (the area between the walls) behind electric sockets and light switch coverings; behind phone and cable jacks; behind service panels; and inside wall penetrations for electrical, plumbing, and ventilation
  • Beds: in tufts, seams and mattress folds; inside box springs; in or on bed covers, linens, pillowcases and pillowcase covers; in bed frame seams; underneath bed frame legs; behind headboards; and pet bedding
  • Other Furniture: in seams of furniture; underneath furniture legs; under drawer linings and in drawer tracts; behind furniture backs; underneath or inside cushions and cushion covers; and inside upholstery where it is stapled to the frame
  • Clothing: attached to linings and folds of clothing in hampers and other laundry placement areas
  • Other: in or under home furnishings (radios, clocks, lamps, phones, etc.); in or under personal electronics (computers, stereos, TVs, etc.); and any other item that provides a dark, undisturbed hiding spot

How Do I Control Bed Bugs?

If you have bed bugs, do not panic. Bed bugs can be contained and eliminated from your home with the proper course of action.

What You Should Do:

  1. 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 items should be taken off the walls, and all furnishings should be moved to the center of the room. This reduces many potential hiding areas and maximizes the distance between the furniture and the walls. If bed bugs do not make it to the insides of the walls, they are more quickly controlled.
  2. 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.
  3. Old mattresses with holes in them should be thrown away. If mattresses are new or in good condition, they can be vacuumed, placed into direct sunlight for a few hours on a warm day, and then zipped inside a plastic mattress cover. Tape should then be placed over the zipper, so that bedbugs cannot crawl through.

Pest Control:

It is recommended to hire a pest management company to locate all bed bug hiding areas and apply a treatment that will effectively eliminate the population.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread Through Your House?

Bed bugs may originate in furniture brought from other locations.

Bed bugs may crawl through walls and enter new rooms. Lines indicate where people may transfer bed bugs to other locations of their house. Bed bugs are moved either by transferring them on their person or by moving them around in other items, such as laundry. Note: A laundry room in a different part of the house, could become a prime transfer location, as clothing from an infested room comes into contact with clothing going to other rooms.

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!

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

Decades ago bed bugs were eliminated in the United States by certain pesticides, such as DDT, which have since been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, with increased traveling, domestic and international, bed bug activity also began to resurge in this country as people moved around more. Although more environmental-friendly pesticides are on the market, some bed bug populations are becoming resistant to these chemicals. Until an effective pest management strategy can be developed, bed bugs are on the rise.

Bed bugs 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.

How Do You Know You Have Bed Bugs?

  • 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

Fact or Fiction?

Fact: Bed bugs are on the rise! They can be found any time, anywhere, and when you least expect them. You just don’t know what other people bring with them.

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 bedbugs 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, bedbugs 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.

Fact: Bed bugs are nocturnal, meaning they are active (and bite) only at night. Bed bugs do hide during daylight hours and shy away from direct sunlight.

Where Can I Learn More About Bed Bugs?

If you have an established problem with bed bugs in your home or establishment, you should contact a qualified pest management company.

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