Bed Bugs - Signs, Prevention, Treatment & Removal

Worried about bed bugs? Get information on what they look like, where they live and hide, symptoms of bed bug bites plus how to kill and get rid of bed bugs to prevent infestation.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs (cimex lectularius) are tiny wingless parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm blooded mammals.

Bed Bug

Generally, bed bugs are most active at night though they are not strictly nocturnal. Their preferred habitat include infesting mattresses or hiding in other common areas where they can easily reach their preys and feed on their blood meals.

Can One See Bed Bugs?

Adult bed bugs are 1/4 inch long (or the size of an apple seed) and have flat rusty-brown-colored oval shaped bodies. However after feeding on a blood meal, their bodies can swell to a deeper red brown and up to 3/8 inch long.

All bed bugs including newly hatched nymphs can be easily seen with the naked human eye.

Do you have bed bug photos? Get paid for it. Find out how here...

Key Bed Bug Facts

  • The typical life span of a bed bug is about 12 to 18 months.

  • Bed bugs are able to live for several months without feeding on a host.

  • Female bed bugs can lay up to 300 eggs over their lifetime.

  • Bed bugs eggs hatch within 2 weeks and takes about another 3 to 10 weeks to reach maturity depending upon the temperature and availability of food.

  • Bed bugs are not known to carry disease but their bites can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Bed Bugs Life Cycle

Where Do Bed Bugs Live and Hide?

Bed bugs often hide in places that tends to be close to where their hosts sleep such as in crevices and cracks of the bed frame or the mattress; in furniture, behind the skirting, behind the wallpaper.

During the initial early stages of infestation, bed bugs tend to congregate mostly in the seams, tufts and folds of a mattress and then move to the open crevices of the entire bed.

As the bed bug infestations grow larger, the room may carry a distinctive and unpleasant almond-like smell, and they can be anywhere in the home including furnishings, cracks in any wood around the home or electrical boxes. They can also be in found in cloth wall hangings, curtains pleats and loose wall paper plus cracks in wall and ceiling plaster. You should also be able to spot the bed bugs during the day as the infestation increases.

How Do You Get Bed Bugs -- A look at how does one get bed bugs at home.

Bed Bugs Feeding Habits

Bed bugs are generally active at night and feed primarily on the blood of humans while they are sleeping. Their feeding activity often peaks with in a couple of hours before sunrise. However bed bugs will also feed at other times if that is when they are given the opportunity.

Attracted by the warmth of the hosts and the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is given off during sleep, bed bugs feed by piercing the skin with two tubes, one that injects the host with its saliva, which contain anticoagulant and anesthetics while the other sucks up the blood. They usually feed for about 3 to 10 minutes before withdrawing to their hiding places. The host that is being bitten usually do not feel the bites until some minutes or hours later where indication of the bites become itchy.

How to Check If There Are Bed Bugs In My House or Room?

Bed bug bites are usually the first symptoms that you may have bed bugs in the your house or hotel room. You may notice flat welts or raised red bumps that are often accompanied by very intense itching. Secondly, you will get bitten just about every night and you are going to see the bumps and feel it regularly. The bites are also usually isolated to the back of the body, legs and arms. Bed bug bites can also be differentiated from common mosquito bites by the bites unique row or group pattern they have.

You may also see the bed bugs themselves, small bloodstains on your bed sheets from crushed insects, or dark spots from their droppings around your mattresses.

You may also like to try the following steps to check and detect for bed bugs.

Bed Bugs Waste
Bed bugs spent skins, eggs & carcasses 

  1. If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation in the house, you need to thoroughly inspect your mattress first. It is best to do this with a bright flashlight to look for bed bugs or their dark droppings in the seams and tufts of your mattress and inside the box spring.

  2. Bed bugs shed an exoskeleton during their molting stage that pile up in there hiding spots. If a bed bug infestation is bad enough the evidence of bed bugs spent skins or carcasses will be easy to spot. The room may also carry a distinctive and unpleasant almond-like smell.

  3. Trapping bed bugs with a double sided sticky tape is also effective. Place it on edges of the mattresses, box spring and around beds on the floor. In about a week you should see bed bugs stuck to the tape if you have a bed bug infestation.

  4. Alternatively, you may also want to get yourself a Bed Bug Beacon to monitor and trap bed bugs that may be in your room. The beacon works by emitting a small amount of carbon dioxide for up to 2 weeks to attract bed bugs into the unit whereby they get trap and cannot escape.
Bed Bug Symptoms -- Learn how to identify the potential symptoms of bed bugs.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread and How Did They Infest My Home?

Bed bugs are introduced to a home through luggage, furniture, bedding and boxes that are moved from home to home or from a hotel. Used furniture, especially bed frames and mattresses, are of greatest risk of harboring bed bugs and their eggs and therefore should be thoroughly inspected before they are brought back into your home.

Since bed bugs are able to survive many months with out feeding they can simply be waiting in what appears to be a clean vacant home. It is also possible for them to move between connected apartments if you have stayed in an area recently where bed bugs are present. Bats and birds are also known to be the carrier and source for the spread of bed bugs.

Bed Bug Infestation -- Methods on how to prevent an infestation.

Can Pets Spread Bed Bugs?

The answer is No. Even though bugs feed on pets, these bugs do not live on their host. While it may be possible for pets to transport bugs from one room to another, this is coincidental and not because the pet has become a host. Keep in mind that multiple groups of bed bugs may live in your home. Your pets did not cause this - it's just what these bugs do.

Also, unless you take your pet to an infested area such as a hotel or infested home, your pet cannot bring bugs into your home - even if they spend time outdoors. In most cases, the bed bugs probably burrowed into inanimate objects like the pet carriers, pet blankets and other pet items brought into the infested area - not on your pet.

Are Bed Bugs Harmful? Do They Spread Disease?

While bed bugs have been shown to be carriers of certain diseases including the plague and hepatitis B, they do not transmit these diseases to the hosts. It is possible for the areas that have been bitten to develop rashes and be extremely itchy. For some individuals, cratching the areas may lead to infections. However, as of yet, there are no medical proof that bed bug infestations are a serious health threat.

How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Getting rid of bed bugs require persistence and patience to fully extinguish these challenging pests. While professional exterminators are very effective they are fairly expensive and may require treatment on more than one occasion to completely eradicate the infestations. However it is also possible to get rid of bed bugs yourself. Some of the things you can do yourself, include:

  • Vacuum mattresses, bed frames, carpets and upholstered furniture to remove bed bugs and eggs. Pay particular attention to cracks, crevices and open spaces. Use a stiff brush to scrub the mattress to help dislodge bed bugs and eggs. Immediately after vacuuming, dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag in an outdoor bin.

  • Thoroughly clean bedding, linens, curtains, rugs, carpets or garments where bed bugs are likely to hide. Apply bed bug spray to any likely possible infestation areas. If you suspect that there are bed bugs in your bed linen and clothes, remove and wash them in hot water (minimum 120°F) for at least 20 minutes. In additional, a bed bug steamer can also be used to clean and sterilize toys, stuffed animals, shoes, luggage or any other items that cannot be easily wash with hot water.

  • If you find bed bugs on your mattress, seal it with a waterproof, hypoallergenic, zippered mattress cover labeled "allergen rated" or "for dust mites". Keep the cover on for at least one year to keep bed bugs out of the mattress, and eventually kill off any remaining bed bugs that are trapped within.

  • For prevention, it is necessary to repair and seal any cracks and crevices between baseboards, bed frames and furniture. Similarly, remove or glue down any loose or peeling wallpaper to eliminate bed bugs harborage sites.

  • If the infestation is bad, discard any infested items that cannot be cleaned and get rid of any unnecessary clutter. Bag and wrap them in a plastic bag to prevent dislodgement of the bugs en route to the local dumpster.

Because it is hard to get rid of all the bed bugs and their eggs in the first round of treatment it may be necessary that you repeat it weekly to fully eliminate the infestations. If you are still unable to take care of it yourself, hire a professional licensed pest management professional and make sure that they have a well established history of getting rid of bed bugs.

Find Bed Bug Exterminator -- Get Fast, FREE Quotes from experienced exterminators.

How To Kill Bed Bugs -- Discover what are the best ways to get rid of bed bugs for good.

Bed Bug Pictures -- See and identify what do bed bugs and their bites look like.

Additional Resources:

Bed Bug Supply
Offers a wide variety of D-I-Y bed bug treatment products to kill bed bugs.

The Bedbug Registry
A free, public database of bedbug infestations. Use it to check for bedbug reports before booking a hotel room or renting an apartment.

New York Bed Bugs
Information, resources and bed bug management for New York City residents.

University of Kentucky Entomology on Bed Bugs
Entomology fact sheet on bed bugs.

Bed Bugs CDC-EPA Joint Statement
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joint statement on bed bug control in the United States.

U.S. EPA on Bed Bug Control
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on controlling and treating bed bugs.

Cornell University Bed Bug Guide
Guidelines for prevention and management of bed bugs in shelters and group living facilities.

Bed Bugs FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions on bed bugs from the National Pest Management Association.

University of Minnesota Bed Bug Information for Travelers
Traveler Q & A: Preventing bed bugs from hitchhiking to your home.


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