Bed bugs have been making news in recent years due to their resurgence particularly in the U.S. and Europe. The idea of these pests lurking around in hotel rooms or ship cabins during a well-deserved vacation can give us the “heebie-jeebies.” Besides being psychologically unsettling, bed bugs can find their way into luggage thus increasing the risk of infestations in homes. Because bed bugs can withstand extreme temperatures, hide easily because of their size, and survive without feeding for several months, it can be a challenge to get rid of them.
So let’s check out some bed bug facts from the Centers for Disease Control to learn about these creatures so we can do our best to prevent the spread of infestations.
What are bed bugs?
- Parasites – insect family Cimicidae
- Reddish-brown in color, wingless (1 mm – 7 mm)
- Feed solely on blood of people and animals
- Can live for months without a blood meal
- They withstand a large temperature range. Attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide.
Where are bed bugs found?
- Worldwide – Primarily in North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia
- Apartments, shelters, hotels, cruise ships, dorms, buses, and trains
- Usually within 8 feet of where people sleep – in mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, and crevices
- They are found even in the finest hotels – infestations are not determined by the cleanliness of living conditions
- Bedbug resurgence is attributed to pesticide resistance, more frequent travel, lack of public awareness, and inadequate pest control programs
Do bed bugs spread disease?
- Bed bugs do not spread disease and are not a public or medical health hazard
What health risks are associated with bed bugs?
- Itching from bite. Bite marks appear within one to several days and will look similar to a bite mark of a flea or mosquito.
- Excessive scratching leading to skin infection – avoid scratching. Antiseptic creams and taking an antihistamine can be helpful
- Bed bug bites usually resolve within 2 weeks without medical treatment
- Allergic or systemic reactions may occur in some people including asthma, iron deficiency anemia and rarely, anaphylaxis. Serious reactions need medical treatment.
What are signs and symptoms of bed bug infestation?
- Exoskeletons after molting
- Finding them in folds of mattresses and sheets
- Rusty-colored blood spots on mattresses
- A sweet musty odor
How do I prevent the spread of bed bugs?
- Check bedding thoroughly where other people have shared living and sleeping quarters
- Bed bugs are small and flat and can easily hide.
- Hire a professional and experienced pest control company to exterminate suspected bed bugs
- The best way to prevent them is to inspect for them regularly – on mattresses, bed frames, luggage, clothing…every place within 8 feet of where people sleep – as thoroughly as possible.
- Vacuum and dust frequently
Although bed bugs do not take up very much room, certainly we do not wish to share sleeping quarters with them!
Good night, sleep tight,
Don’t let the bedbugs bite,
Wake up bright
In the morning light
To do what’s right
With all your might.
(A Nursery Rhyme – Author Unknown)
For more information about bed bugs, visit www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html