Bed Bug FAQ
What do bed bugs look like?
Adult bed bugs are about 3⁄16 to 1⁄4 inch long, brown in color and do not have wings. Depending on how recently they ate, they are either flat and oval shaped (hungry) or plump, balloon-like and reddish brown (well fed). Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are smaller and translucent to whitish yellow. If they haven’t eaten, they are almost invisible. As they age they become plumper and darker in color. Bed bug eggs are about the size of a pin head and pearly white.
Both adult bed bugs and their nymphs feed on human blood. Their feeding doesn’t transmit disease but it does cause various degrees of allergic reaction and irritating itching.
What is the bed bug life cycle?
Female bed bugs lay 200 to 500 eggs over their lifetime. Eggs hatch in six to ten days. Young nymphs begin looking for a meal immediately. They go through five molts (shedding their skin) before becoming adults, which at room temperature can take about five weeks. Adults usually live four to six months, but can live much longer in cooler conditions or without food.
How do you get bed bugs?
Bed bugs are great hitchhikers. They can travel to your home from neighbors’ houses, hotels and schools – almost anywhere that is infested. Their mode of transportation includes furniture, clothing and luggage or anywhere they can find the smallest nook and cranny to hide.
How do you check for bed bugs?
Its takes some hard work, and a lot of it is done on your hands and knees with a flashlight and magnifying glass. Prior to searching, make sure you know exactly what all the life-stages of bed bugs look like. Other insects look similar and some can cause similar, itchy bites.
Places you’ll need to check thoroughly include your beds, nearby furniture, walls and trim, windows and doors, drapes, curtains and other window hangings, electrical systems, wall decorations, floor coverings and any upholstered furniture. Inspect every nook and cranny, crack and crevice and tops and bottoms. If necessary, use a putty knife or playing card to probe the smallest cracks. Smash or vacuum any bed bugs you find.
What are the signs of bed bugs?
Look for all life-stages of bed bugs, living and dead. You may also find the dried, pale yellow skins shed as they grow from one stage to another, and small black dots, which are fecal matter. Reddish brown stains on sheets and mattresses may be crushed bed bugs.
Where can I get more information on controlling bed bugs?
If you find bed bugs, don’t panic. Although it will take some planning and effort, they can be controlled using a variety of methods. In many cases, getting help from a pest management professional may be the best option. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a thorough bed bug website (http://www2.epa.gov/bedbugs) that covers everything from identifying the pest to prevention and control. Your local cooperative extension office and county or state health department can also provide information.