Adult bed bugs are about 3/16” long and reddish-brown, with oval-shaped, flattened bodies. They are sometimes mistaken for ticks, cockroaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not fly, and they don’t jump like fleas do ― but they can crawl rapidly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Adult females lay their eggs in secluded places, depositing 1, 2 or more eggs per day, potentially hundreds during their lifetime. The eggs are tiny (about the size of a dust spec), whitish and hard to see without magnification, especially on light-colored surfaces. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to surfaces. At room temperatures, bed bug eggs hatch in about a week. Newly emerged nymphs are straw-colored and no bigger than a pinhead.
The first question I would ask that person is, what makes you think you have bed bugs? A skin reaction alone does not necessarily indicate the presence of bed bugs. Other bugs, allergies and irritants in the environment can produce similar skin reactions. And it's hard to confidently identify a bed bug bite because reactions vary from person to person. My next question would be, have you seen an insect in an area where you sleep and, if so, was it the correct size and shape to be a bed bug? Carpet beetles in an immature stage are commonly mistaken for bed bugs. The carpet beetle actually doesn't look anything like a bed bug, but it is the right size. And it's another common insect to have indoors around the bed. If you find an insect that you think is a bed bug, save it in a pill bottle or another container so its key characteristics won't get crushed and a professional can identify it.
Some friends brought me a gift, bed bugs. After some research I discovered cedar oil. I have been using it as a repellent. I spray around my mattress at night and it seems to keep the bugs at bay. It is harmless to me and my pets and I can even use it on them to repel fleas. Has anyone else tried it? It works on the same principle as a cedar chest is used to keep bugs away from your valuable clothing or bedding items. It does have a cedar odor which I find mildly enjoyable.
Some people experience anxiety, sleeplessness and unease as symptoms of having had bed bugs. Let's face it, bed bug infestations are understandably significant psychosocial stressors, and some people may experience sleeplessness as they worry about bugs biting them or their family members. Not surprisingly, people have been known to self-isolate, avoiding family and friends out of concern for spreading the infestation, or (if word gets out that they have bed bugs) they may be avoided by friends or others in the community, or find they have problems at work. As a result, victims of bed bug infestations may experience moderate to severe levels of stress, anxiety and depression. In severe cases, these persons should seek counseling and treatment as required.
The Internet abounds with so-called miracle cures for bed bugs. But bed bugs are hard to get rid of, so anything that advertises an immediate solution is not accurate—it's snake oil. These "cures" have included (as reported by pest control operators who come in afterward to tackle bed bugs correctly) using bleach, ammonia and even DIY heat treatment, which carries fire risk.
While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.