What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs (Cimex lecturarius) are small parasitic insects that feed and live on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. However, bed bugs can survive up to several months without a blood meal. Bed bugs are considered a public health pest by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs can be found around the United States and the world. Due to traveling, bed bugs are able to move from one place to another through luggage and other items. Bed bugs are commonly found near or around areas of where people sleep such as:
- Rooming houses
- Cruise ships
- Dorm rooms
Within a home or lodging facility, bed bugs can be found in:
- Seams of mattresses
- Box springs
- Bed frames
- Dresser tables
- Behind wallpaper
- Electrical outlets
Do bed bugs spread diseases?
Though bed bugs are considered public health pests by the EPA, CDC, and USDA, they are not known to transmit or spread diseases.
Bed bugs are considered pests due to their biting which often leads to itching and loss of sleep. The response to bites can differ among people. Some may not have any physical signs of a bite, while others may have a serious allergic reaction.
What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
Bite marks is a common sign of a bed bug infestation. Bite marks can occur on the face, neck, arms, hands, and other body parts. Other common signs that help identify a bed bug infestation include:
- bed bugs found in the folds of mattresses and sheets
- visible exoskeletons of bed bugs after molting (commonly found around mattresses and box springs)
- visible fecal material that are rust colored (commonly found around the bed area and furniture)
How are bed bug infestations prevented?
Bed bug infestations can be prevented by using repellents and the burning of mosquito coils. Using bug spray that contains deet may protect travelers from bed bug bites, and lower the chance of bed bugs getting into luggage. It is recommended to burn mosquito coils for further protection since bug repellents are unlikely to last the whole night.
How are bed bug infestations treated?
With light infestations, home owners can treat for bed bugs by cleaning infested surfaces and exposing them to sunlight. Aerosol spray cans and household insecticides can be sprayed in rooms and around areas of where bed bugs might be. If bed bugs are still present after a few weeks, the process should be repeated again.
With heavy infestations, furniture and mattresses can be thrown away to lower the number of living areas for bed bugs. If the discarding of mattresses is not feasible, heavy infestations can be heat treated. Heat treatment for bed bugs involves heating a home or living area to above 118°F or higher to kill off bed bugs.
To notify the Environmental Health Department of a bed bug infestation in a regulated facility, click here.
Lodging facilities regulated by the Environmental Health Department includes:
- Bed & Breakfast Homes and Inns
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Bed Bugs
- Environmental Protection Agency on Bed Bugs