The scientific name for bed bugs is Cimex lectularius. They are small creatures that grow up to 5 mm in size, or about the size of an apple seed. They have a flat oval-shaped body and will become significantly larger if they have fed. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs start life as a tiny egg, then grow into a nymph before becoming an adult.1
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Around the time I started getting bites, I noticed more and more neighbors throwing out mattresses, furniture… I got suspicious. We live in apartments. I react differently to different kinds of bites so I can always tell the difference between mosquitoes and ants and such. I didn’t know what those bites were until I caught one of the little hellions crawling across the sheets.
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
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.
To begin, strip your bed of all sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding, and seal them in plastic garbage bags to keep bed bugs from escaping and infesting other parts of your home. Take the bags straight to the washing machine, and wash them using the hot water setting. Then, dry the bedding on high heat if their tags allow it. This heat treatment will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your bedding.
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.
Encase Mattresses and use bed bug interceptor traps on bed frames. After everything is put back and all pesticides are dried, vacuum the area again to remove any dead or dying bedbugs and to pick up any spilled dust or pesticide. Be sure to throw the vacuum cleaner bag away outdoors. A thorough treatment is essential to achieve adequate control. It is usually desirable to apply insecticides for bed bugs early in the day, so that insecticide spray residues will have several hours to dry, or dusts will have time to settle, before the room will be used again for sleeping. As a safety consideration it is particularly important to dry and cover mattresses completely before they are reused. A mattress encasement such as The Elite Zippered Mattress and Boxspring Encasement should be used to cover and conceal the mattress and the boxsprings. It is important to use a quality zippered encasement (cover) with a special zipper closure to make sure that bedbugs do not crawl out of the zipper opening.
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.
Start with the bed, including mattress, box-spring and bed frame. Inspect the visible areas first. Look along all edges and corners. Also check along all stitch lines and the mattress label. Five sides the mattress can be checked while the mattress is on the bed. When you are finished checking the upper surfaces, you can then stand the mattress upright so you can check the bottom of the mattress.
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.
It often seems that bed bugs arise from nowhere. The bugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported into dwellings on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, and other items. This is a particular risk for hotels and apartments, where turnover of occupants is constant. Bed bugs are small and agile, escaping detection after crawling into suitcases, backpacks and belongings. Acquiring secondhand beds, couches and furniture is another way that the bugs are transported into buildings. Bed bugs also can be carried in on one’s clothing, shoes or wheelchair. Once bed bugs are introduced, they can crawl from room to room or floor to floor. They can also be transported throughout buildings on people and their belongings.
Bedbugs normally feed at night, usually approximately 1 hour before dawn. However, if the conditions are favorable, they also feed during the day. Feeding takes 3-12 minutes. In proper conditions, adult bedbugs can survive without a meal for 1 year or longer. Each female lays approximately 300 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs hatch in 10 days. The nymph stage lasts 6 weeks, undergoing 5 molts.
Bed bugs occur in all regions of the globe. Rates of infestations are relatively common, following an increase since the 1990s. 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. Bed bugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.
Because bed bugs have become so prevalent in the past few years, many fear they’ll be their next victim. They became so anxious and paranoid of the possible bed bug presence. If you eliminate the pests though, you could have a certain sense of peace knowing that you would not be bothered or bitten them. However, you wouldn’t be able to sleep well for long if you would not kill bed bugs right and continuously do the bed bug preventive steps.
Spray all baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and bedsprings and bed frames. Do not apply to furniture surfaces or mattresses where people will be laying or sitting unless using a product labeled for that type of treatment. Infested bedding should not be treated, but should be removed, placed in sealed plastic bags, and taken for laundering and drying at high temperature.
Bed bugs have a fast and large reproduction nature. On an average, they can reproduce within 200 to 250 eggs at one time, and hatch during an interval between 6 to 10 days. Bed bugs largely live between 4 months to 6 months, and a 1-time treatment is not sufficient to cover the Bed Bug life stages. A 3 times treatment integrated with steam treatment and follow ups across 1.5 to 2 months is usually recommended. Read more here on 6 Questions to Get the Best Treatment for Bed Bugs.
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
With the bed now fully isolated and elevated, bed bugs hiding elsewhere in the room won’t be able to feed on you or hide in your bed. You can also use the ClimbUps to monitor the changing population of bed bugs in your home. Hopefully, you will see less and less bugs appear in the traps as you go through the next steps. Now that you have created a safe haven in your bed, you can move on to treating the rest of the room.
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.
Both of these types of Hemiptera are sensitive to extreme temperatures. It may be necessary to rid the infestation by exposing the area to extreme heat or cold; they are most comfortable in temperatures around eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Raising the temperature to ninety-seven to ninety-nine degrees may kill off a significant portion of the population.
The best method of inspection is always using your body. Bed bugs have to have a blood meal, so if they persist after your treatment, they will find you. If you don't want them biting you and you want to get a good nights rest, then be sure to encase your mattresses, using climb-up bed bug interceptors on your bed frame and post and place Bed Bug Traps around to help monitor bedbug movement. Replace traps every 90 days.
Bedbugs are highly resistant to many sprays. There are, however, certain sprays that may be able to kill bedbugs. Check with a professional exterminator about advice using sprays to try and remove the bedbugs yourself. Dead bedbugs usually won't move, may be arched back, or red in color. Ultimately, you may be better off replacing your mattress and bedding and fumigating your home to kill the bedbugs.
Bed bugs love fast food. They like to feed and then scurry back to their hiding places. They try to avoid crawling all over their food for fear of waking it/us. They usually bite the bare skin they find closest to the mattress. That’s why it’s common to see two or three bite marks in a line along the skin that was in contact with the mattress or pillow. When this happens it’s time to learn how to get rid of bug beds fast.
Conventional insect repellents, like those used to deter ticks and mosquitoes, do not appear to be as effective against bed bugs. Therefore, attempting to avoid being bitten by applying insect repellent at bedtime is not recommended. Sleeping with the lights on is also not likely to deter hungry bed bugs, as they will adjust their feeding cycle to the host’s sleeping patterns.
Bedbugs are found all over the world. Bed bug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the insecticide DDT for pest control 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. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger pesticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.
You must repeat the entirety of Step 2 (except for the mattress and box spring treatment if you are encasing) every 7-10 days until no one in the home has bed bug bites and there is no further evidence (live bugs, cast skins, or fresh blood spots) found. This is absolutely crucial! Depending on the severity of the infestation it can take a minimum of 7-8 weeks, including repeat treatments. Failure to be thorough can prolong the process of getting rid of bed bugs and can make it harder to eliminate them.
Considering how time-consuming and costly it can be to eradicate bed bugs, it’s prudent to take precautions and avoid infestations in the first place. Householders should be vigilant when acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches. Discarded items should be avoided, and secondhand articles should be examined closely before being brought into the home. Look carefully in the folds and seams of furniture for signs of bed bugs (see the previous section entitled "Description and Habits" for more details). There is no reason to stop shopping in consignment stores, yard sales, etc., but it would be prudent to run clothing and fabric items through the washer or dryer before storing them in the home. The risk of acquiring bed bugs from items purchased in antique stores would generally be insignificant.
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.
Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don't feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. The first sign of bedbugs may be itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites.
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.