- Bedbugs are small, oval insects that feed on humans or animals by sucking their blood.
- Bedbugs do not fly or jump.
- Bedbugs are pests that can live anywhere in the home. They can live in cracks in furniture or in any type of textile, including upholstered furniture. They are most common in beds, including the mattress, ensemble bases, and bed frames.
- Bedbugs are most active at night which is why they are commonly refer to as Night Ninjas. They may bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. Common locations for bedbug bites are the face, neck, hands, and arms.
- Fecal stains, egg cases, and shed skins of bedbugs in crevices and cracks on or near beds are suggestive that bedbugs may be present, but only observing the bugs themselves can confirm an active infestation. A professional pest-control company may be required to help identify and remove bedbugs from the home.
- A bedbug infestation is one of the most difficult problems to rectify. Much harder than other pests due to their tolerance for pesticides, their ability to hide and hibernate and their ability to go for more than 6 months without feeding. It’s common for a bedbug infestation to return after what seems to be months of no activity due to one egg or one bedbug not being eradicated in the first treatment.
- A bedbug bite is painless and is generally not noticed. The bites may be mistaken for mosquito bites, skin rash of another cause. Small, flat, or raised bumps are the most common sign. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and itching. It’s common to find bedbug bites in a line where they have tracked between feeds. One bite is often not enough to fill a bedbug.
- Typically, no treatment is required for bedbug bites. If itching is severe, steroid creams or oral antihistamines may be used.
- Only 50% of the population reacts to bedbug bites. Some people can be bitten continuously and never know about it.
- One of the worst side effects of bedbugs is insomnia or the surreal feeling of bed bugs crawling on you even when you know they are not.
The first sign of bedbugs may be red, itchy bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites, unlike some other insects that leave bites here and there.
Bedbugs do not spread disease to people. But itching from the bites can be so bad that some people will scratch enough to cause breaks in the skin that get infected easily.
What are the symptoms and signs of bedbug bites?
Bedbugs bite and suck blood from humans. Bedbugs are most active at night and bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. The face, neck, hands, and arms are common sites for bedbug bites. The bite itself is painless and is not noticed. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign. Redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected. A peculiarity of bedbug bites is the tendency to find several bites lined up in a row. Infectious-disease specialists refer to this series of bites as the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" sign, signifying the sequential feeding that occurs from site to site. In some people, the bites can take several days to develop. The signs may become apparent up to 14 days after the bite has occurred.
Bedbug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of rash or skin condition, since the signs of bedbug bites are difficult to distinguish from other bites or skin conditions. Bedbugs also have glands whose secretions may leave musty odors, and they also may leave dark fecal spots on bed sheets and around places where they hide (in crevices or protected areas around the bed or anywhere in the room).
How are bedbugs spread?
Bedbugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also hide in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bedbugs can live on clothing from home infestations and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing. People who have or have had bedbugs in their home or hotel are unlikely to tell their guests of these infestations which also rapidly assists in the spread of bedbugs around the country and rest of the world.
What about prevention of bedbug bites?
Avoidance of visiting infested areas or properties is the method for prevention of bedbug bites. Recognition of bedbug infestation and proper treatment of affected rooms (usually with the help of a pest-control specialist) is the best way to prevent bedbugs in the home. Prevention tips can include sealing your mattress and pillow in a bedbug-prevention encasement can be beneficial.
Sleeping with the lights on has not been shown to be effective in preventing bedbug bites. Conventional insect and tick repellents are also not useful against bedbugs, so one should not try to avoid being bitten by using insect repellent at night.
For those concerned about bedbug infestations in hotels, an important tip is that you can inspect any hotel room for the presence of the telltale signs of bedbugs. It is important to check the mattress and headboard, and luggage racks. In hotels, keeping your suitcase away from the bed and on a luggage rack can help prevent bedbugs from infesting your luggage. When you return home, inspect your luggage and put clothes immediately into the washer. While washing clothes in hot water does not kill bedbugs, drying clothes at a high temperature can eliminate them.
At home, do not store luggage under your bed. Ideally, luggage should be stored in a basement or garage. Other tips you can take to reduce the chances of bedbugs infesting your home include removing clutter, vacuuming frequently, and keeping belongings separate when taken to school or work.
What about bedbugs in hotels?
Many news reports in recent years have focused on the discovery of bedbugs and their health effects (even in upscale hotels), and a number of lawsuits have been filed by guests of fashionable hotels who awoke to find hundreds of bedbug bites covering their skin. Searching on travel-review web sites regularly reveals information and even photos confirming the presence of bedbugs in numerous hotels.
Since bedbugs can arrive on the clothing or in the suitcases of guests from infested homes or other hotels harboring the pests, hotels can be an easy target for bedbug infestations.
In addition to hotels, bedbug infestations have been found in movie theatres, office buildings, laundries, shelters, in transportation vehicles, and other locations with high-occupant turnover where people may congregate.
How do I detect a bedbug infestation in my home or in a hotel?
Check to see if you can identify the rust-colored fecal stains, egg cases, and shed skins (exuviae) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. A sweet, musty odor is sometimes present. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture, in bedsprings and under mattresses, and even in articles of clothing. While fecal stains and skin casts suggest that bedbugs have been present, these do not confirm that the infestation is still active. Observing the bedbugs themselves is definitive confirmation that an area is infested. You may require professional assistance from a pest-control company in determining whether your home or hotel contains bedbugs.