Bed Bugs Spotlight

Bed bugs have been common in U.S. history. Although bed bug populations dropped dramatically during the mid-20th century, the United States is one of many countries now experiencing an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs. Though the exact cause is not known, experts suspect the re-emergence is associated with increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides, greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding control of bed bugs due to their prolonged absence and the continuing decline or elimination of effective vector/pest control programs at state and local public health agencies.

In recent years, public health agencies across the country have been overwhelmed by complaints about bed bugs. An integrated approach to bed bug control involving federal, state, tribal and local public health professionals, together with pest management professionals, housing authorities and private citizens, will promote development and understanding of the best methods for managing and controlling bed bugs and preventing future infestations. Research, training and public education are critical to an effective strategy for reducing public health issues associated with the resurgence of bed bug populations.

Bed Bug Lifecycle
Click here to view FAQ about Bed Bugs
  • Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that can feed on sleeping humans at night. These nocturnal insects hide along seams of mattresses, in box springs, or in cracks and crevices near sleeping areas. Eliminating an infestation requires removing or treating all infested material and monitoring to be sure bed bugs are gone.
  • Bed bugs feed only on blood and must have one blood meal prior to molting to the next, larger nymphal stage.
  • Adults can feed every few days but can survive many months without food.
  • Bed bug feeding is painless. Victims usually remain asleep.
  • Areas around bites may redden, swell, and itch. Some people have no reaction.
  • Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, but scratching bites can lead to infection.
  • People can carry bed bugs on luggage, clothes, bedding, furniture, or other objects and may pick them up in hotels.
  • Hotels, homeless shelters, furnished apartments, and dormitories are most at risk. Second-hand mattresses and furniture can also be a source.
  • Bed bugs like to hide. Remove bedding. Look in cracks, crevices, and holes. Turn furniture upside down and dismantle frames if necessary.
  • Insecticides alone will not control bed bugs. Remove infested materials, and seal hiding spots.

Myth: You can’t see a bed bug

Reality: You should be able to see adult bed bugs, nymphs and eggs with your naked eye

Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places

Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding spots.

Myth: Bed bugs transmit disease.

Reality: There are no cases that indicate that bed bugs pass diseases from one host to another. Lab tests have shown that it is unlikely that the insect is capable of infecting its host.

Myth: Bed bugs won’t come out if the room is brightly lit.

Reality: While bed bugs prefer darkness, keeping the light on at night won’t deter these pests from biting you.

Myth: Pesticide applications alone will easily eliminate bed bug infestations.

Reality: Bed bug control can only be maintained through a comprehensive treatment strategy that incorporates a variety of techniques and vigilant monitoring.

Before you travel, read this information on preventing bed bug infestation while you’re on the road.
Click here to read the Traveler Q & A.
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  • Seams, creases and folds of mattresses and box springs
  • Cracks in bed frame or head boards
  • Beneath chairs, couches, beds or dustcovers
  • Between furniture cushions
  • Underneath area rugs and edges of carpets
  • Between drapery/curtain folds
  • In Dresser and night stand drawers
  • Behind Baseboards
  • Behind electrical switch plates
  • In cracks in plaster
  • In telephones, radios, clocks or similar places