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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bed Bugs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, oval, wingless insects that reach about 1/5” in length. They belong to the insect family Cimicidae, which includes three species that bite people. Bed bugs have flat bodies and are reddish-brown in color. They may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bed bugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals.

Bed Bug on Hand


Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Bed bugs are most likely to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals are nesting on or near a home. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bed bugs.


Can bed bugs harm humans?

Bed bugs are not believed to carry diseases; however, they do bite and suck blood from humans. In the act of feeding on human blood, they may inject their own saliva into the bite area, leading to a localized area of itching and swelling. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected. Bed bugs are most active at night and bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. Bed bug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites. Bed bugs also have glands whose secretions may leave odors, and they also leave dark fecal spots on bed sheets and around their hiding places (in crevices or protected areas around the bed or anywhere in the room).

How do I know if my home is infested with bed bugs?

You can look to see if you can identify the fecal stains, egg cases, and exuviae (shed skins) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture, in bed springs, and even in articles of clothing. Observing the bed bugs themselves is definitively confirmation that your home is infested. You may require professional assistance in determining whether your home contains bed bugs.

Bed Bugs


How are bed bugs eradicated in the home?

Most cases of bed bug infestation will require treatment by a pest control expert. A variety of low-odor sprays, dusts, and aerosol insecticides can be used to eradicate bed bugs. These must be applied to all areas where the bugs are observed as well as spaces where they may crawl or hide. The pest control company can help you determine if the mattress can be disinfected or must be discarded. Since beds cannot readily be treated with insecticides, it’s often necessary to discard infested mattresses and beds.


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