How To Get Rid Of
eliminate, kill, exterminate, eradicate, fumigate )
very thought of these blood sucking creatures crawling into your
bed at night could prompt some people to saturate their home
with pesticides, throw out the beds or just move out.
These are not the best solutions.
The mature bed bug is a brown- to
mahogany-colored, wingless insect. Its size depends on how
recently it has eaten a blood meal. An unfed bed bug is between
1/4 and 3/8 inches long. The upper surface of its body has a
papery, crinkly, flimsy appearance. When engorged with blood,
its body becomes elongated and swollen, and its color changes
from brown to dull red. The color, size, and shape change from
an unfed to a full bug is remarkable.
Female bed bugs deposit 3 to 8 eggs at a time. They are
fastened with a cement to cracks and crevices or rough surfaces
near adult harborages. A total of 200-500 eggs can be produced
per female. The eggs hatch in 4-12 days. The newly emerged
nymphs will feed immediately. After getting a blood meal, the
nymph turns red or purple in color because of the blood in its
body. A bed bug goes through five molts (shedding of its skin)
before it reaches maturity in 35 to 48 days. Each stage
requires a blood meal.
Adult bed bugs can survive for 6-7 months
without a blood meal and have been known to live in abandoned
houses for 1 year.
Adults (A) are reddish-brown, oval,
flattened insects from 6 to 9 mm long and 1.5 to 3 mm wide
Engorged Adults (B) are swollen and
dull red. Though wingless, adult bed bugs do have small wing
pads. The eyes are deeply pigmented and the sides of the
collar-like pronotum curve slightly around the head.
Egg (not pictured)-- The white, oval
egg is about 1 mm long.
Nymph (C-E) -- The five nymph instars
resemble the adult though they are smaller in size. A newly
hatched nymph is almost colorless.
Engorged Nymphs (E) are reddish and
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Bed Bug Biology
Knowing what to look for is the first step in controlling bed
bugs. Generally, adult bed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inch (4-5mm)
long, brown in color, with a flat, oval-shaped body; while young
bed bugs (also called nymphs) are smaller and lighter in color.
Life cycle of the bed bug, starting from the top
left, moving counter clockwise: eggs (1mm), 1st stage
nymph (1.5 mm), 2nd stage nymph (2 mm), 3rd
stage nymph (2.5 mm), 4th stage nymph (3 mm), 5th
stage nymph (1.5 mm), unfed adult (5.5 mm), and fed adult.
provides basic bed bug information, prevention tips
and control suggestions on a fact sheet that may be
Bedbugs were once a
common public health pest worldwide, which declined in incidence
through the mid 20th century. Recently however, bed bugs have
undergone a dramatic resurgence and worldwide there are reports
of increasing numbers of infestations. Bed bugs are one of the
great travelers of the world and are readily transported via
luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. As such, they have a
this page, come back soon and tell your friends about it.
- Bed bugs are persistent.
Eradicating, exterminating or just killing an entire
infestation requires persistence.
- Bed bugs can hide in extremely
small cracks and crevices making it difficult to locate
- Bedbugs are rarely seen in
daylight. They emerge from their hiding spots at night.
- Bed bugs can live a year or longer
without food (blood) and thus stay in their hiding places.
- Bed bugs can travel long distances
and survive in suitcases, clothing, vehicles, aircraft,
cruise ships and other modes of transportation.
- Bed bug females lay about 300
- Bed bugs hatch from eggs in 10
- Bed bugs feed by piercing skin
with an elongated beak.
- Saliva is injected, containing an
anesthetic to reduce pain, and an anticoagulant to keep
- The reaction to bed bug bites
varies among individuals, from no reaction to sever skin
inflammation and irritation.
with you tonight?
The stigma attached to these parasites is
influencing some hotels and other accommodations to
ignore infestations or treat them without
professional help. Lack of professional treatment
comes with great risks, notably the possibility of
In a landmark case a motel chain in the United
States was successfully sued for [U.S.] $382,000
after guests were bitten by bedbugs [Matthias
v. Accor, 2003]
Symptoms of a
Bed Bug Infestation
Most bug bug
problems are not detected until someone has been bitten. The
bite is painless. The salivary fluid injected by bed bugs
typically causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed,
although individuals can differ in their sensitivity. A small,
hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite.
This is accompanied by severe itching that lasts for several
hours to days.
A bed bug
infestation can be recognized by blood stains from crushed bugs
or by rusty (sometimes dark) spots of excrement on sheets and
mattresses, bed clothes, and walls. Fecal spots, eggshells, and
shed skins may be found in the vicinity of their hiding places.
An offensive, sweet, musty odor from their scent glands may be
detected when bed bug infestations are severe.
Disease and Health Risks
reactions are commonly associated with bed bugs, which result
from the saliva injected during feeding. Some individuals
however, do not react to their bite, whereas others note a great
deal of discomfort often with loss of sleep from the persistent
biting. The most commonly affected areas of the body are the
arms and shoulders. Reactions to the bites may be delayed; up to
9 days before lesions appear. Common allergic reactions include
the development of large wheals, often >1cm, which are
accompanied by itching and inflammation. The wheals usually
subside to red spots but can last for several days. Scratching
may cause the welts to become infected. Bullous eruptions have
been reported in association with multiple bed bug bites and
anaphylaxis may occur in patients with severe allergies. In
India, iron deficiency in infants has been associated with
severe infestations. It has been suggested that allergens from
bed bugs may be associated with asthmatic reactions.
have been implicated in the transmission of a wide variety of
infectious agents, although their status as vectors is
uncertain. It has been suggested that they might play a role in
the spread of hepatitis B, however, experimental evidence does
not support this.
Some individuals respond
to bed bug infestations with anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
Impact of Bed Bugs on Public Health
Although bed bugs are not known to
transmit disease, they are a pest of
significant public health importance. Bed
bugs fit into a category of blood-sucking
ectoparasites (external parasites) similar
to head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis).
Bed bugs, like head lice, feed on the blood
of humans but are not believed to transmit
disease. Other ectoparasites, such as body
lice (Pediculus humanus corporis),
are known to transmit several serious
diseases. Differences in the biology of
similar species of pests, such as body lice
and head lice (or bed bugs) can greatly
impact the ability of pests to transmit
Bed bugs cause a variety of negative
physical health, mental health and economic
consequences. Many people have mild to
severe allergic reaction to the bites with
effects ranging from no reaction to a small
bite mark to, in rare cases, anaphylaxis
(severe, whole-body reaction). These bites
can also lead to secondary infections of the
skin such as impetigo, ecthyma, and
lymphanigitis. Bed bugs may also affect the
mental health of people living in infested
homes. Reported effects include anxiety,
insomnia and systemic reactions.
Research on the public health effects of
bed bugs has been very limited over the past
several decades, largely due to the noted
decline in bed bug populations in the latter
half of the 20th century. Now that bed bug
populations are rapidly increasing,
additional research is needed to determine
the reasons for the resurgence, the
potential for bed bugs to transmit disease
and their impact on public health.
Bed bugs can live in almost any crevice
or protected location. They will usually stay close to their
food source (blood) but can rapidly spread through a multiple
residence building, hotel or other accommodations. The most
common place to find them is the bed. Bed bugs often hide within
seams, tufts, and crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed
frame and headboard.
Finding Bed Bugs
Some Bed bug symptoms are not obvious
to the untrained eye. A thorough inspection requires dismantling
the bed and standing the components on edge. Things to look for
are the bugs themselves, and the light-brown, molted skins of
the nymphs. Dark spots of dried bed bug excrement are often
present along mattress seams or wherever the bugs have resided.
Oftentimes the gauze fabric underlying the box spring must be
removed to gain access for inspection and possible treatment.
Successful treatment of mattresses and box springs is difficult,
however, and infested components may need to be discarded.
Cracks and crevices of bed frames should be examined, especially
if the frame is wood. (Bed bugs have an affinity for wood and
fabric more so than metal or plastic). Headboards secured to
walls should also be removed and inspected. In hotels and
motels, the area behind the headboard is often the first place
that the bugs become established. Bed bugs also hide among items
stored under beds.
Nightstands and dressers should be
emptied and examined inside and out, then tipped over to inspect
the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes the bugs will be hiding in
cracks, corners, and recesses.
Upholstered chairs and sofas should be
checked, especially seams, tufts, skirts, and crevices beneath
cushions. Sofas can be major bed bug hotspots when used for
Other common places to find bed bugs
include: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting
(especially behind beds and furniture); cracks in wood molding;
ceiling-wall junctures; behind wall-mounts, picture frames,
switch plates and outlets; under loose wallpaper; amongst
clothing stored in closets; and inside clocks, phones,
televisions and smoke detectors.
The challenge is to find and treat all
places where bugs and eggs may be present. Bed bugs tend to
congregate in certain areas, but it is common to find an
individual or some eggs scattered here and there. Persistence
and a bright flashlight are requisites for success. Professional
Inspectors sometimes also inject a pyrethrum-based, "flushing
agent" into crevices to help reveal where bugs may be hiding. A
thorough treatment of a home, hotel, or apartment may take
several hours or days.
"Kill Bedbugs Instantly !!!!!"
With all the media hype about bedbugs, some unscrupulous
manufacturers are promoting products that infer an instant,
almost magical solution to bedbug problems. The authors of these
promotional ads must assume most of the readers are very
gullible. Once you find them It does not take the intelligence
of a rocket scientist to kill bed bugs. It's easy.
Consider some of the following solutions:
Ways to Kill Bedbugs:
1. Find bedbugs. Take to
judge and have the death sentence read. Place bugs on judge's
desk. Results are instant.
Find bedbugs. Remove bugs
to safe place. Point spray can at
bugs and push button. Almost anything will do. Paint, fry pan
oil coating, oven cleaner, lubricating oil, hair spray,
deodorant, toilet cleaner. The secret is to use enough that it
stops the bugs from breathing. They suffocate. You do not need
to purchase a magical bed bug spray to kill the bugs you find.
Find bedbugs. Brush into a pail of boiling hot
Find bedbugs: Suck them
into your vacuum cleaner.
You may notice
all the solutions require one very important step.
"Find bedbugs". This is the
hard part. It requires the knowledge of a well trained and
experienced person to find ALL of the adult and junior
bedbug stages plus hiding places where eggs have been laid. If
insecticides are used, they must have a long lasting residual
effect and should not be sprayed on the mattress or bedding. .
(Not something you will find in the local hardware store.)
Anything less than this will give only temporary relief. They
will be back.
Find an experienced pest management
If you insist on doing it yourself be
prepared for failure.
Treatment & Control
Just spraying pesticides is not the solution
Control of bed bugs is best achieved by
following an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that
involves multiple tactics, such as preventive measures,
sanitation, and chemicals, steam or heat applied to targeted
Bed bugs are challenging pests to control.
They hide in many tiny places, so inspections and treatments
must be thorough. In most cases, it
will be prudent to enlist the services of a professional pest
control firm. (see
professionals who specialize in
Experienced companies know where to look for
bed bugs, and have an assortment of management tools at their
disposal. Owners and occupants will need to assist the
professional in important ways. Affording access for inspection
and treatment is essential, and excess clutter should be
removed. In some cases, infested mattresses and box springs will
need to be discarded. Since bed bugs can disperse throughout a
building, it may also be necessary to inspect adjoining rooms
Bed bugs were treated years ago by wholesale
spraying of pesticides. This practice is no longer permitted.
Thoroughness is still important, but treatments today are
generally more targeted and judicious. It often takes hours to
properly inspect and treat a bed bug infestation, and follow-up
visits are usually required.
Infested bedding and garments will need to be
bagged and laundered (120°F minimum), or discarded since
these items cannot be treated with
insecticides. Smaller items that cannot be laundered
can sometimes be de-infested by heating. Individual items, for
example, can be wrapped in black plastic bags and placed in a
hot, sunny location for at least a few days (the 120°F minimum
target temperature should be monitored in the centermost
location with a thermometer). Bedbugs also succumb to cold
temperatures below freezing, but the chilling period must be
maintained for at least two weeks. Attempts to rid an entire
home or apartment of bed bugs by raising or lowering the
thermostat will be entirely unsuccessful. Vacuuming can be very
useful for removing bugs and eggs from mattresses, carpet,
walls, and other surfaces. Pay particular attention to seams,
tufts and edges of mattresses and box springs, and the perimeter
edge of wall-to-wall carpets. Afterward, dispose of the vacuum
contents in a sealed trash bag. Steam cleaning of carpets is
also helpful for killing bugs and eggs that vacuuming may have
missed. Repair cracks in plaster and glue down loosened
wallpaper to eliminate bed bug harborage sites. Remove and
destroy wild animal roosts and bird nests when possible.
While the former measures are helpful,
insecticides are important for bed bug elimination. Pest control
professionals treat using a variety of low-odor sprays, dusts,
and aerosols. (Baits designed to control ants and cockroaches
are ineffective). Application entails treating all cracks and
crevices where the bugs are discovered, or tend to hide.
Eliminating bed bugs from mattresses and box springs is
challenging. If there are holes or tears in the fabric, the bugs
and eggs may be inside, as well as outside. There also are
restrictions on how beds can be treated with pesticides. For
these reasons, pest control firms often recommend that infested
beds be discarded. If disposal isn't an option, encasing the
mattress and box spring will be helpful if bugs are still
supply companies sell zippered bed
encasements for dust mite prevention). Some pest control firms
treat seams, tufts, and crevices of bed components, but they
will not spray the mattress surface, bed sheets, blankets, or
clothing. Vacuuming and brushing will further help to remove
bugs and eggs from mattresses and box springs that cannot be
discarded. Some pest control firms also treat beds with portable
steam machines. The technique is useful, but does not kill bugs
or eggs that are hidden inside the box spring or mattress.
Just spraying pesticides is not the solution!
Residual insecticides (usually
pyrethroids) are applied as spot treatments to cracks and
crevices where bed bugs are hiding. Increased penetration of the
insecticide into cracks and crevices can be achieved if
accumulated dirt and debris are first removed using a vacuum
Many readily available aerosol pesticide
sprays will cause bed bugs to scatter making eradication more
Dust formulations may be used to treat wall voids
and attics. Repeat insecticide applications if bed bugs are
present two weeks after the initial treatment since it is
difficult to find all hiding places and hidden eggs may have
not be used on bedding or linens.
These items should be dry cleaned or laundered in
hot water and dried using the "hot" setting.
Ineffective Against Bedbugs: Ohio University Study
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University
entomologists have found that over-the-counter foggers or "bug
bombs" commonly used by consumers are not effective at killing
bedbugs -- providing the first scientific evidence that such
products should not be recommended for control of this
increasingly worrisome, bloodsucking pest.
The study appears in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of
Economic Entomology, a peer-reviewed publication of the
Entomological Society of America.
"There has always been this perception and feedback from the
pest-management industry that over-the-counter foggers are not
effective against bedbugs and might make matters worse," said
Susan Jones, an urban entomologist with the university's Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and a
household and structural pest specialist with Ohio State
University Extension. "But up until, now there has been no
published data regarding the efficacy of foggers against
Because a majority of bedbugs spend most of
the time hiding in protected sites (under sheets and mattresses,
in cracks and crevices, deep inside carpets, etc.), Jones said
it is very unlikely that they will be exposed to the insecticide
mist from foggers. And even if they come into contact with the
mist, she added, many bedbug populations found in Ohio and
throughout the U.S. have varying degrees of resistance to
pyrethroids and will most likely survive application.
"Bug Bombs" or total release aerosol
insecticides never work for bed bugs and can be very dangerous
The mobile nature of
bed bugs limits their prevention. Avoidance is especially
challenging in hotels, motels, and apartments because occupants
and their belongings are constantly changing. This affords many
opportunities for the bugs to be introduced. Householders should
be wary of acquiring secondhand beds, bedding, and furniture. At
a minimum, such items should be examined closely before being
brought into the home. When traveling in countries where bed
bugs are prevalent, it might be prudent to examine the bed and
headboard area for signs of the bugs, and elevate luggage off
the floor. Warehouses, storage facilities, trucks and railroad
cars may be infested so common bed bugs can infest homes by
stowing away on new furniture stored or shipped from these
places. Familiarity may help to avoid infestation, or at least
prompt earlier intervention by a professional.
Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture:
"Bed bugs are challenging pests to control. They hide in many
tiny places, so inspections and treatments must be very
In most cases, it will be prudent to enlist the services of a
pest control firm. Experienced companies know where to look for
bed bugs, and have an assortment of management tools at their