Bed bugs can exist singly, but tend to congregate once established. Although strictly parasitic, they spend only a tiny fraction of their lifecycles physically attached to hosts. Once a bed bug finishes feeding, it relocates to a place close to a known host, commonly in or near beds or couches in clusters of adults, juveniles, and eggs—which entomologists call harborage areas or simply harborages to which the insect returns after future feedings by following chemical trails. These places can vary greatly in format, including luggage, inside of vehicles, within furniture, among bedside clutter—even inside electrical sockets and nearby laptop computers. Bed bugs may also nest near animals that have nested within a dwelling, such as bats, birds, or rodents. They are also capable of surviving on domestic cats and dogs, though humans are the preferred host of C. lectularius.
Infestations with bedbugs date back to ancient Egypt.1 The incidence of bedbugs in developed countries decreased in the 1940s because of the availability of more effective pesticides (especially DDT) and improved economic and social conditions.2 In the past decade, however, a significant resurgence of bedbug populations has occurred. This is attributed to a combination of factors, including increased pesticide resistance, more frequent travel, lack of public awareness, and inadequate pest control programs.3 In a 2010 survey, 95 percent of more than 500 U.S. pest management companies reported encountering a bedbug infestation during the preceding year, compared with only 25 percent of companies during 2000.4 Bedbugs spread actively by migrating from one infested room to another, often through ventilation ducts. They also spread passively, carried in the seams of travelers’ luggage, bedding, or furniture.5 Bedbugs do not travel directly on human hosts.6
Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species of insects: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus. They are about 1 to 7 mm in size. Spread is by the bugs walking between nearby locations or being carried within personal items. Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene but is more common in high density areas. Diagnosis involves both finding the bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Bed bugs spend much of their time in dark locations like mattress seams or cracks in the wall.
Unlike cockroaches and flies that feed on filth, there is often no relationship between bed bugs and cleanliness. Since the bugs feed solely on blood, pristine dwellings can be as vulnerable to infestation as are places of squalor. That said, poverty and privation can lead to increased risk of bed bug problems, as can the inability to hire a professional exterminator.
You should look for traces of the insects in the folds of your mattresses, box springs and other places where they are likely to hide. You might be able to find their papery skins, which get cast off after molting and look like popcorn kernels but are smaller and thinner, Harlan said. They also leave small, dark-colored spots from the blood-filled droppings they deposit on mattresses and furniture. If you can touch the spot with a water-soaked towel and it runs a rusty, reddish color, you're probably looking at a fresh drop of bedbug feces, Harlan said.
Our place is pretty cluttered so I was freaking out. Luckily we have hardwood floors and not carpet. We tried different things. It gets really hot here, so I loaded up any nearby sheets, pillows, comforters, clothes, etc into trash bags and tied them off so nothing could get out. I put those in the car so the sun could beat heat into them all day. Never thought I’d be so thankful for Texas summers… Still got bites. We bought a mattress cover. Still got bites. We thought, okay, maybe they’re coming from the wall socket from a neighbors or something. We couldn’t close it so we kept the bed away from furniture and walls and put sticky traps on the legs. Caught NO bed bugs but STILL GOT BITES. I was losing my mind.
Very helpful article, plus everyone’s comments. I wish you all the best of luck with bedbug problems. We went to a cabin near Yosemite before Christmas and I saw bugs on the bed. Luckily we didn’t sleep there and left right away. However I’m afraid some came home with us. About 3 weeks after our trip, I got a rash on my neck, but it’s not very itchy. Haven’t seen any bugs at home, but am worried. Will try the tips in the article–any suggestions how to heat a bedroom to 120 degrees?
A few decades ago, bedbugs were somewhat of a novelty in developed countries. But since the early 2000s, infestations have become more common in places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2013 study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggested that bedbugs have evolved ways to resist insecticides.
Cracks and crevices of bed frames should also be examined, especially if the frame is wood. (Bed bugs have an affinity for wood and fabric more so than metal or plastic.) Wooden support slats, if present, should be removed and examined since bed bugs often congregate where the ends rest on the frame. Screw holes, knots and other recesses are also common hiding places. Headboards secured to walls should be removed and inspected. In hotels, the area behind the headboard is often the first place that bed bugs become established. Bed bugs also frequently hide within items stored under beds.
We’ve randomly gotten bites here and there but it’s summer so we were unsure. We had a cleaning lady come in recently and use her vaccuum so we suspect that could’ve brought in bed bugs! Last night was worst ever but I was outside yesterday but didn’t notice these bites til I just woke up. No signs of spots left behind on mattress, maybe one dot on bedding but could be anything. What do you think?? I have about 6-8 on my middle back and they are about an inch or so apart in one line across bra line area
During the day, bedbugs tend to hide away in furniture, floors, beds, and in wood or paper trash. They typically feed on human or animal blood at night, and most bites occur just before dawn. After taking their meal, which can last as little as three minutes, they drop off the host and crawl to a hiding place. Bedbugs can live for up to 10 months and can go without feeding for weeks.
The next sign is that the bites will occur nightly while sleeping and the rashes will increase daily. These rashes will usually be located on the legs, arms, neck, face and back, which are the most common areas. The reason these places are the most common sites is because these areas are usually exposed during the night. Exposed areas of the host are what they prefer.
I sleeped over my boyfreinds house just for a night my 4month old daughter and I slept on the bed and we got bit bad but my poor baby seems to have pus on her bites..she got bit even on her face her fingers etc..but funny thing my boyfreind didnt get bit, I got home and i washed everything we took in hot water dried in hot washed my beeding all her blankets the car seat was left out in the heat for 2 days..then i washed it in hot water i vacumed the whole room sprayed alcohol on the carpet on my matress..question is what more can i do? is there any chance that they could still be in my room?
It’s also possible that you won’t see a reaction the first time a bedbug bites since it sometimes can take the body a while to react. (6) Some people will have an immediate reaction, while for others it could take two weeks to emerge. Your body will likely become more sensitive to bedbug bites over time, and if you get bitten repeatedly, it could be only a matter of seconds before your body shows a response.