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Bed Bugs 101
Bed bugs are blood-drinking insects known for inhabiting beds and other nearby crevices. Infestations can quickly get out of control, so it is important to have a pest control professional correctly identify bed bugs and provide proper treatments.
- Adults have six legs and are oval shaped
- Relatively flat insect, so it can crawl into a wide variety of crevices in close proximity to humans
- Typically small, usually less than a quarter-inch long, and is brown or reddish brown in color.
- The reddish brown color comes from the consumption of blood. Fecal spotting tends to appear as dark/black stains or smears from the digested blood that is excreted.
Behavior & Diet
- Bed bugs feed on human blood, causing itching and swelling
- Females lay 10-20 eggs per week, which translates to 500-1000 hungry bed bugs per year
- If food is unavailable, bed bugs can survive for several months to up to a year before dying of dehydration
- Infestations cross all socio-economic boundaries being found in world class hotels and lower income housing
Where Bed Bugs Come From & Signs of an Infestation
Bed bugs can be introduced into any environment through used bed materials or furniture, or from luggage after traveling. Bed bugs can also travel between units in hotels and apartment buildings. Check for evidence of a bed bug infestation using the checklist below.
Bed Bug Eggs
Eggs and eggshells are about 1mm and nymphs shed pale yellow skins as they grow larger.
Bed Bugs in Bed Frame
Since bed bugs are only about the width of a credit card, they can squeeze into really small hiding spots. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug.
Bed Bug Staining on Pillow
Dark spots are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would when wiped.
Bed Bugs in Headboard
Headboards and bed frames are favorite hangout spots for bed bugs. This picture shows bed bugs living inside the head of a screw.
Fecal Staining Along Mattress Piping
Bed bugs will sometimes excrete while they are feeding and leave behind dark reddish or brownish spots or smears found on bed sheets, pillowcases and mattresses, or in nearby areas. It is composed mostly of digested blood.
Bed Bugs Behind Mattress Tag
When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring.
Stains on Materials
Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses are caused by bed bugs being crushed.
Dark Spots on Bed Frame
Not only will bed bugs hide along mattress piping, they will also find harborage in bed frames.
Bed Bug Eggs
Bed bug eggs are about the size of a pinhead and are pearl-white in color.
Key Inspection Areas
Infestations can happen anywhere. Here are key areas to check:
- Routinely inspect rooms for bed bug activity
- Inspect all areas within 3-5 feet of where people sleep or relax (chairs, couches, beds)
- Folds, seams and buttons on beds and furniture
- Spaces behind wood trim, inside electrical boxes, in floors, and behind wallpaper
- Under the bed, between mattresses, and within the seams of the mattress
- Cracks and crevices in bed frames, headboards, and box springs
- High up on the walls or hide behind curtain rods
- Inspect behind picture frames, light fixtures and any other mounted furnishings
Think you have bed bugs? Next Steps
- It is important to contact a Pest Management Professional to have a bed bug appropriately identified. A physical sample of an actual bug or egg is required to be 100% certain that you have bed bugs.
- The complete elimination of bed bugs requires highly trained and licensed individuals knowledgeable in bed bug biology, behavior and the proper use of pesticides. Using over-the-counter or “do-it-yourself” pesticides or repellents may make the infestation worse by aggravating them, causing them to scatter into remote areas like bed frames, molding and picture frames. Contacting a service professional is the best step in managing your bed bug removal.
Being Proactive is the Best Defense
Education is the first step in preventing bed bugs. The second step is knowing what to do if you find bed bugs. If you do discover a problem, it is vital to act immediately. Give us a call for a free phone consultation. We’ll assess the situation and offer options to help take care of your problem. We’re always happy to help.
Due to the biology and habits of bed bugs, there is always a risk of getting bed bugs or for reintroduction. The best way to approach bed bugs is detect them early with a regularly scheduled inspection and treatment program.