An adult bed bug is about 1/5 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Its reddish brown to mahogany-colored body is greatly flattened and oval shaped. After feeding, the bug's body enlarges considerably, becoming longer and much less flattened. Although the body is covered with tiny hairs, these hairs are so small that they are almost invisible to the naked eye, so the general body appearance is shiny. Bed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that enable them to pierce the skin and suck blood from their hosts.
It takes time and persistence to get rid of bed bugs, and in some cases, the cooperation of landlords, neighbors and others. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It can also be expensive when pest control companies are called in. Just remember - bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a health concern and, with vigilance, you can avoid or deal with infestations.
The creatures don't have wings and they can't fly or jump. But their narrow body shape and ability to live for months without food make them ready stowaways and squatters. Bedbugs can easily hide in the seams and folds of luggage, bags and clothes. They also take shelter behind wallpaper and inside bedding, box springs and furniture. The ones that feed on people can crawl more than 100 feet (30 meters) in a night, but typically creep to within 8 feet (2.4 m) of the spot its human hosts sleep, according to the CDC.
Systematically treat the room–all cracks and crevices around windows, outlets, blinds, pictures, posters and clocks on walls, baseboards, under edges of carpets and any other crevices or void areas in the room. Remember that immature bed bugs are very tiny. Dozens of bed bugs can hide in a recessed screw hole in a bed frame or dresser. Therefore it’s important that no hiding place be overlooked. Treatment can include vacuuming, but should not be limited to vacuuming only. Vacuums do not remove eggs, and will likely not remove all bed bugs from deeply infested cracks and crevices. Vacuums can remove many bed bugs from mattresses and the exterior of box springs (remember to immediately double-bag the vacuum bag after cleaning and dispose of outside in a trash can or dumpster). Sticky tape is another method of picking up bed bugs from furniture, walls, etc.
Bed bugs occur around the world.[36] Before the 1950s about 30% of houses in the United States had bedbugs.[2] Rates of infestations in developed countries, while decreasing from the 1930s to the 1980s, have increased dramatically since the 1980s.[3][4][36] Before the 1980s they were common in the developing world but rare in the developed world.[4] The increase in the developed world may have been caused by increased international travel, resistance to insecticides, and the use of new pest-control methods that do not affect bed bugs.[37]
Isolating your bed from the rest of the house.  If you don’t use a bed, purchase a frame that gets your mattress off the floor and install bed bug interceptors under all feet of the bed frame to keep bed bugs off your bed while you are sleeping. Interceptors are special platforms or cups that are purchased to prevent bed bugs from climbing on to your bed.  An interceptor can be as simple as a sticky card placed under a bed post (sticky and messy).  Better are one of the commercial pitfall traps made specifically for this purpose.  The Climbup™ Bed bug Interceptor and BlackOut BedBug Detector (Google them) are two such products sold online. Relatively inexpensive, these cups trap bed bugs attempting to climb (or exit) the bed. If you have encased your bedding, treated your bed frame thoroughly and installed interceptors, you will be instantly protected against bed bugs.  Don’t take out your clean bedding or put it back on the bed until the bed has been treated (and dried) and encasements installed. And note that for this method to be effective, beds and bedding must not touch the floor, furniture or walls.  This would provide bed bugs other ways to climb onto the bed and foil your defenses.
After bedbugs find a food source, they bite down with their mouths and inject anticoagulant and anesthetic compounds into the skin. Depending on the species, these parasites feed on the host blood via 1 of 2 mechanisms. Vessel feeders directly insert their mouthparts into superficial capillaries, whereas pool feeders damage the superficial tissue and feed on the accumulated blood. As bedbugs feed, their color may change as they swell with the host blood, as shown in this picture of a larval bedbug feeding on a volunteer host. Image courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Select and use insecticides safely. There are no magic sprays that kill bed bugs very well.  Most commercial insecticides will kill bed bugs if applied carefully and directly to the insects and their hiding places. An exception is “Bug bombs”, or aerosol foggers. Foggers are mostly ineffective in controlling bed bugs. Because bed bugs hide in crevices and voids where aerosols do not penetrate, they are able to avoid contact with these insecticides. Their use is not recommended. Some of the products you may find helpful include:
To use sprays effectively to eliminate all traces of bed bugs, you need to know the signs of a bed bug infestation. The first sign that you may have bedbugs are some itchy bite marks on your skin when you wake up in the morning. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the bites from bed bugs cause red itchy bumps on the skin.3 You can learn about their other signs and symptoms in my articles on what do bed bug bites look like.
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
Avoiding repeated bites can be difficult, since it usually requires eradicating bed bugs from a home or workplace; eradication frequently requires a combination of pesticide and non-pesticide approaches.[3] Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos and malathion.[4] Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time and there are concerns of negative health effects from their usage.[3] Mechanical approaches such as vacuuming up the insects and heat-treating or wrapping mattresses have been recommended.[3]
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Human infestation with bedbugs, lice, and mites are common causes of dermatologic symptoms. Although these organisms thrive in conditions of overcrowding and decreased sanitation, Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds may be at risk for infestation. Clinicians must maintain high suspicion in the appropriate set of clinical circumstances to identify and treat infestations, as they can cause substantial dermatologic and psychological discomfort for patients. Images courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I'm a former scientist, using words and an audio recorder as my new research tools to untangle the health and food issues that matter most to consumers. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I cook as much as possible. You can find me in the grocery aisle scrutinizing the fine print of every food item I put into my cart. Follow me on Twitter @juliacalderone.

For more information about bed bugs, including their biology and how to recognize them, see other factsheets on the Citybugs bed bug page.  The State of Michigan has also recently published a very detailed guide to Do-it-yourself bed bug control. Also, if you decide you need professional help, check out our advice onHow to Select a Bed Bug Control Professional, ENTO-033
Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.
The mechanism of skin injury by arthropods depends on the structure of the mouthparts. These insects are categorized as vessel feeders if they insert the tip into a capillary or as pool feeders if they feed on the extravasated blood from damaged tissue. They often inject different pharmacologically active substances (eg, hyaluronidase, proteases, kinins), which may cause different skin reactions (eg, erythema, wheal, vesicle, hemorrhagic nodule). See the following images.
Because their bodies are flat, they can hide under the smallest spots like the border of beds, under the mattress, edges of carpets, couches, cracks in the walls and ceilings, in your pillows, under your bed sheets, behind electrical plugs and wall sockets, in your cupboards and dressers, or under furniture. In fact, bed bugs prefer any fabric materials. They can travel pretty good distances, too. Expect them to be able to be found anywhere in the room.

Bed bugs occur in all regions of the globe.[7] Rates of infestations are relatively common, following an increase since the 1990s.[3][4][6] The exact causes of this increase is unclear; with proposals including greater travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings, a greater focus on control of other pests, and increasing resistance to pesticides.[4] Bed bugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.[2]
First off you should ALWAYS go to pest control if you think you have bedbugs! You shouldn’t try and get rid of them yourself, 99% of the time it does not work. Plus even if you removed infected areas and wash them it wouldn’t kill the eggs. Plus bedbugs are very easy to get but very hard to get rid of. So you should never do it yourself it won’t work!
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.
I can definitely understand. This is has been going on with us for almost a year. My hands and arms look like I have leprocy or something. Horrible blisters, rash, scabs, and bunches of “bumps” especially in my right hand. I wind up with painful blood blisters some times. I am living on benedryl and calamine lotion. I hate going out because of what I look like. I have taken to using cover up and foundation on my hands to make the mess less noticable. i have a long-sleeved summer weight sweater that I wear whenever I do have to go out.
While your laundry cycle is running, use a vacuum cleaner to remove any bed bugs, shells, fecal droppings, or eggs that might be along the seams of your mattress, pillows, box spring, and along the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, headboard, and footboard. Follow up the vacuuming with a high pressure steamer to penetrate deep inside mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and footboards to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact.
Bed bugs are tiny, flat, wingless insects that range in color from nearly white to deep brown/reddish. The parasitic pests get their name from their hiding spot of choice – they prefer burrowing into bed frames and mattresses during the day, then become active at night when they feed on people and pets. Bed bugs are resilient pests that can hitch a ride on luggage, furniture, storage boxes, backpacks and clothing (but rarely humans), very quickly causing an infestation.
Occasionally, you might find other bugs which resemble the common bed bug including the bat bug and swallow bug. Both of these species superficially resemble the common bed bug. However, their primary hosts are bats and birds and there are small but diagnostic morphological differences. Problem infestations with these bugs may occur in attics or unused chimneys. Typically, when one host is gone these bugs seek an alternative host blood meal. This is when humans are bitten. It is important to differentiate between the common bed bug and other bugs that feed on bats and birds because control efforts can be targeted at the wrong sites and infestations can continue.
Other types of bed bug traps include those that do not rely on humans as bait, but instead use CO2and/or other attractants. CO2 is thus far the most powerful lure for bed bugs, as it is the primary cue they follow to locate hosts. Traps that issue CO2 for a period of time are more expensive than Climbup™ traps, but can effectively trap bed bugs when no host is present, such as in common areas, vacant homes or units, offices, schools, and theaters. Thus they can help confirm infestation and eradication.

The Diatomaceous Earth seems to kill them and centipedes. Didn’t even know I had those til I put powder down to prevent bed bugs and found one curled up dead. It dries them out and kills them. Works great! I’ve heard boric acid doesn’t work on bed bugs but I do know it works wonders on killing roaches. My sister had them in an apartment & boric acid wiped them out!
To check for signs of a bedbug infestation, Dr. DerSarkissian says that you may notice rusty-colored spots on bed linen and mattresses. These spots could be either blood stains or bedbug excrement. You may also find shed skins around bed frames, mattresses, and other hiding places. Also, a musty smell is usually present where a large number of bed bugs are living.4
Oil-based products have been so frequently touted as natural bed bug killers that they’ve even attracted government intervention. The Federal Trade Commission has charged multiple companies with deceptive advertising for overhyping their cedar oil-based products’ ability to treat an infestation. By claiming that their products can stop and prevent bed bug infestations, these marketers opened the door to government lawsuits for misleading their customers.

Bed Bugs can re-infest your freshly treated bed, so be sure to stop them from crawling up the bed posts by using Climb-Up Bed Bug Insect Interceptors. The Climb-Up Insect Interceptor is a small dish that is placed under the bed post and captures bedbugs in a a powder coated ring. These type of bed bug traps are very effective and should be used on every bed to help make a complete bed bug proof bed.


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Insect bites, including those from the bedbug, have been proposed as a factor contributing to the formation of a cutaneous reaction termed papular urticaria. Patients with papular urticaria have been shown to demonstrate immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibodies to bedbug (C lectularius) antigens. [10] Thus, IgG against C lectularius, Cimex pipiens, and Pulex irritans in patients with papular urticaria may contribute the pathogenesis of this condition.
 Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” long and reddish-brown, with oval-shaped, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not fly, and they don’t jump like fleas do ― but they can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing 1, 2 or more eggs per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored surfaces. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperatures, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. Newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead.

According to a study carried out on Ortho Home Defense, it contains a chemical bifenthrin that is considered relatively safe and kills off bugs that pyrethroid-based insecticides can’t. It is also effective against bed bug eggs and larvae.12 It should be sprayed as a spot treatment in any crevice where bed bugs can reside. You can get more information about Ortho Home Defense bed bug spray and purchase it in Amazon here.

Bed bug infestations have resurged since the 1980s[43] for reasons that are not clear, but contributing factors may be complacency, increased resistance, bans on pesticides, and increased international travel.[44] The U.S. National Pest Management Association reported a 71% increase in bed bug calls between 2000 and 2005.[45] The number of reported incidents in New York City alone rose from 500 in 2004 to 10,000 in 2009.[46] In 2013, Chicago was listed as the number 1 city in the United States with the worst bed bug infestation.[47] As a result, the Chicago City Council passed a bed bug control ordinance to limit their spread. Additionally, bed bugs are reaching places in which they never established before, such as southern South America.[48][49]
Pay attention to when the bites occur. Consider, for example, if you notice the bites after waking up when previously you hadn't noticed them. However, this can also be difficult to determine because each person's reaction time can vary significantly. Symptoms that result from the bite can manifest at any point from a couple of hours to more than a week after the bite occurred.
To treat an allergic reaction, the doctor may prescribe an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine injection. If the area is infected, he or she might prescribe an antibiotic or recommend an over-the-counter antiseptic. Finally, if it’s severe itchiness that you’re dealing with, applying corticosteroid or taking an antihistamine in pill or liquid form may be able to help.
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
What’s the best way to get rid of bed bugs? Stop feeding them. To prevent those unwanted dinner guests, isolate your mattress from the rest of the room. Start by pulling the bed away from the wall and away from other furniture like nightstands and chairs. Remove box spring skirting that hangs down to the floor. Oversize blankets that drape to the floor can also act as a ladder for the little buggers.
We are often asked, "How do you kill bed bugs?" While we would love to give a simple answer, this is actually a loaded question. There are many ways to kill a bed bug but, if you want to kill all of the bed bugs in your home or business, it is important to pay attention to the details. Here are some ways you can kill bed bugs, and what you should know about each.
In a bed bug treatment, alcohol is basically an attempt to fill the role of a contact spray, which is an insecticide spray that kills bed bugs on contact. These sprays are proven to kill at a higher rate than rubbing alcohol could manage, and are extremely versatile in where they can be applied. Pair contact sprays with a couple of residual sprays, and you have a combination of chemicals that will kill bed bugs quickly now, and keep killing over the next few weeks.
Adult bed bugs are brown, 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, and have a flat, oval-shaped body. Young bed bugs (called nymphs) are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs hide in a variety of places around the bed. They might also hide in the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains. They come out to feed about every five to ten days. But they can survive over a year without feeding.
They also have the ability to travel beyond the bedroom, so all adjoining rooms should be checked for infestation. Any area that offers a layer of protection, e.g. dark, isolated areas, should be checked. They do leave excrement droppings behind, so even if they are not seen, you can often see where they have been. The best method to find them is to check only at night, and with a red light.
Select and use insecticides safely. There are no magic sprays that kill bed bugs very well.  Most commercial insecticides will kill bed bugs if applied carefully and directly to the insects and their hiding places. An exception is “Bug bombs”, or aerosol foggers. Foggers are mostly ineffective in controlling bed bugs. Because bed bugs hide in crevices and voids where aerosols do not penetrate, they are able to avoid contact with these insecticides. Their use is not recommended. Some of the products you may find helpful include:
Determine which rooms are infested. Bedrooms are the principal locations for bed bugs; however, any room where people sleep in the home may provide harborage for bed bugs. Living rooms with sofas and sofa beds are the next most common sites for bed bugs. Typically an infestation starts in one room and spreads slowly to other places where people sleep.  The sooner you find and treat bed bugs the easier it will be to get rid of them.  Wait too long and bed bugs may be found throughout your home.
It’s cost us about 3 to 6 hundred dollars to get them exterminated. Alcohol does kill on contact but it takes a lot more than that. Some things need to be bagged up until you can wash all clothes! They can live without feeding on your blood for months and months! I had them feeding on me but my husband worked outside and had darker skin so they weren’t biting him at first until they found his white legs! He was sporting a farmers tan.LOL
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
When professionals need to treat an infestation, they don’t reach for rubbing alcohol or cedar oil or a blow dryer. They use a proven treatment process that involves a combination of proven products to get the job done. It’s not about whether or not a certain item can kill bed bugs, it’s about whether that item is the ideal part of a treatment that will actually get rid of an infestation. After all, your shoe would have a 100% kill rate on any bed bugs you smack with it – that doesn’t mean you can expect to be bed bug free after a diligent afternoon of shoe-wielding.
"In the past, bedbugs have repeatedly shown the ability to develop resistance to products overly relied upon for their control. The findings of the current study also show similar trends in regard to chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin resistance development in bedbugs," study researcher Ameya Gondhalekar, research assistant professor at Purdue's Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management, said in the Entomology Today statement. "With these findings in mind and from an insecticide resistance management perspective, both bifenthrin and chlorfenapyr should be integrated with other methods used for bed bug elimination in order to preserve their efficacy in the long term."
Traditional methods of repelling and/or killing bed bugs include the use of plants, fungi, and insects (or their extracts), such as black pepper;[54] black cohosh (Actaea racemosa); Pseudarthria hookeri; Laggera alata (Chinese yángmáo cǎo | 羊毛草);[15] Eucalyptus saligna oil;[55][56] henna (Lawsonia inermis or camphire);[57] "infused oil of Melolontha vulgaris" (presumably cockchafer); fly agaric (Amanita muscaria); tobacco; "heated oil of Terebinthina" (i.e. true turpentine); wild mint (Mentha arvensis); narrow-leaved pepperwort (Lepidium ruderale); Myrica spp. (e.g. bayberry); Robert geranium (Geranium robertianum); bugbane (Cimicifuga spp.); "herb and seeds of Cannabis"; "opulus" berries (possibly maple or European cranberrybush); masked hunter bugs (Reduvius personatus), "and many others".[58]
If you live in an apartment or condominium, it’s best to alert the property manager.  A coordinated bed bug control effort using a pest control company is generally needed in such situations. Bed bugs readily move from apartment to apartment, with many people unaware that they have a problem. If one apartment is infested, adjoining units (left side, right side, above and below) should be assumed to be infested unless shown otherwise through inspection or monitoring.  Simply asking tenants whether they have bed bugs is not enough.  In one recent study only half of apartment residents whose homes were determined to have bed, bugs knew (or admitted) they had a bed bug problem.

Mix an insecticide labeled for use on bed bugs, such as Temprid FX, with water in a pump sprayer using the ratio found on the product label to create a bed bug spray. Spray onto baseboards, in corners, around door and window frames, around bed frames, and under furniture. Do not broadcast spray an entire carpet or floor. Allow the spray to dry before moving on to the next step.
Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

Hiring a pro to wipe out bed bugs isn’t cheap. Expect to pay about $200 per room to kill bed bugs, and you’ll likely need a few chemical treatments in order to eradicate bed bugs. Professional heat treatments will cost even more. And even if you hire a pro, you’ll still have to do lots of work yourself (moving furniture, washing all clothes, etc.). So consider declaring a DIY war on bed bugs. If you’re willing to spend $100 to $200 and do things right, your chances of success are excellent.
Stripping and vacuuming the mattresses and box springs, and encasing them.  Double bag your bedding and wash in hot water and dry for at least 30 minutes (discard the inner bag after putting bedding into the washer, as it could have bed bugs).  After vacuuming suspected bed bugs from the bed, take your vacuum cleaner outdoors and remove and discard the bag.  Purchase a good quality set of bed-bug-proof encasements for your mattresses and box springs. Bed bug-proof encasements are fabric sacks into which you slide your mattress or your box spring. The zippers on bed bug encasements are designed to be tight enough to prevent even the smallest life stages of the bed bugs from escaping. Also, good bed bug-proof encasements are woven to prevent bed bugs from biting you through the encasement. A good encasement will trap all bed bugs in the mattress and box spring inside, and will be smooth on the outside, providing few places for bed bugs to hide. Sears, Target, Walmart and other stores may sell bed bug-proof encasements, but these can also be purchased online. A good place to look for different brands and reviews of mattress encasements is Amazon.com (whether you buy there or at a local store). Go to http://www.amazon.com and search for “bed bug mattress protectors”.
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