Bed Bug Information
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, brownish, flattened insects that feed on the blood of people while they sleep. Although the bite does not hurt at the time, it may develop into an itchy welt similar to a mosquito bite. Bed bugs do not transmit disease, but they can cause significant itchiness, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Usually, bed bugs will hide during the day and only come out to feed during the night. Unlike head lice, they do not live on a person. However, they can hitchhike from one place to another in backpacks, clothing, luggage, books, and other items.
Can I get a disease from bed bugs?
No, there are no known cases of infectious disease transmitted by bed bug bites. However, some people are more sensitive to the bites and develop itchy, red welts. Scratching the bites can lead to infection. Bed bugs may also affect a person's mental health. Anxiety, insomnia, and irritability have been reported in some people.
How do I know if my home has bed bugs?
Itchy swollen bites may be the first sign of a bed bug problem. However, these itchy bites can take as long as 14 days to develop in some people, so it's important to look for other clues if you are concerned about an infestation. Bed bugs typically infest mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and couches. You may be able to find them hiding within the cracks and crevices of beds, furniture, floors, and walls. Bed bugs often leave evidence of small dark stains (fecal droppings) and rusty red spots (bloodstains) on bedding sheets, mattresses, and other areas they hide in or travel along. Heavy bed bug infestations can cause a sweet, musty smell.
If you suspect a bed bug problem, it's important to first confirm that you really have bed bugs. Contact a pest control company for bed bug identification help.
What do bites from bed bugs look like?
Skin reactions from bed bug bites vary from person to person. Bites may go unnoticed or may be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other skin conditions. The most common skin reaction to bed bug bites are itchy red bite marks that appear clustered or in a straight line, often along the edge of clothing or where sheets were pulled up to a person's skin. Small swollen red bumps are also common. In rare cases, people may develop large, often itchy, red welts. A single bed bug bite is similar to a flea bite, except that a red area does not occur in the center. Flea bites tend to be found around the ankles while bed bugs tend to bite any exposed area of the body while a person is sleeping, such as the face, neck, arms, hands, or legs.
How do I stop itching from bed bug bites?
Most bed bug bites go away by themselves and don't need treatment. Keep the skin clean and try not to scratch. Over-the-counter, anti-itching cream for insect bites can help relieve the itching. If the bites are very itchy, your health care provider may prescribe cream or antihistamines to relieve the itchiness. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for any secondary skin infection from excessive scratching.
How do I keep bed bugs from coming to school?
Limit the items your child takes to school.
- Because backpacks and coats are the most common way for a bed bug to get a ride to school, put them in a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes weekly.
- Store freshly laundered clothing in sealed plastic bags or boxes until they are put on if you have problems with bed bugs in your home.
What if I spot a bed bug?
- Catch the suspected bed bug in a zip-top bag or contain it under clear tape for identification and to confirm that you have bed bugs.
- Many pest management companies offer identification services.
- Arrange for an inspection by a pest management professional.
Bed bugs are not a sign of unhealthy living conditions. You can unknowingly bring them home from infested areas in clothes, shoes, backpacks and other items.
How do I get rid of bed bugs?
The best way to control bed bugs is to use a professional pest management company which uses a variety of control techniques that pose the least risk to human health and the environment. The use of pesticides is just one part of the potential control strategy for bed bugs. Other strategies to eliminate bed bugs include:
- Confirm that you have bed bugs. Contact a pest control company for bed bug identification help.
- Vacuum all seams and crevices on your mattress, bed frame, baseboards, and any other objects close to the bed or furniture in the home found to be harboring bed bugs. It is essential to vacuum daily and immediately place the vacuum's contents into a sealed plastic bag and throw it away in an outdoor garbage can.
- Regular house cleaning can help prevent infestation.
- Wash all your linens in hot water and place them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.
- Put clothing, backpacks, shoes, bedding, and similar objects in a dryer at high temperature for 30 minutes.
- Cover your mattress, box spring, and pillows with a certified bed bug cover encasement.
- Remove all unnecessary clutter to reduce places that bed bugs can hide.
- Seal cracks and crevices between baseboards, on wood bed frames, floors and walls with caulking. Repair or remove peeling wallpaper, tighten loose light switch covers, and seal any openings where pipes, wires or other utilities come into your home.
- Never use pesticides that are intended to be used outdoors, inside your home. Bug bombs or total release foggers are not effective in controlling bed bugs. Bed bug infestations can be difficult to control, but don't resort to improperly using pesticides. Serious health risks can occur when pesticides are used improperly.
- Limit the items your child brings home from school.
- Keep school items like backpacks, books, and jackets in a single area of the home that is separate from the sleeping areas.