Chances are, you or someone you know has had a run-in with bed bugs. It might have happened in a scrupulously clean bedroom. Or maybe it was a hotel room, office or college dorm. In the February issue of Scientific American entomologist Kenneth Haynes of the University of Kentucky explains how, after a lengthy absence, bed bugs are staging a comeback. The good news is scientists are intensively studying these insects, and their insights suggest novel ways of detecting the bugs and eradicating infestations. Some of those potential solutions are a long way off, however. In the meantime the best bet is to avoid bringing bed bugs home in the first place. I called Haynes to ask him how to do that and what to do if one suspects an infestation (eek!), among a bunch of other practical-minded questions.

The bites themselves don't usually pose any major health risk since bedbugs are not known to spread diseases, but an allergic reaction to the bites may require medical attention, CDC officials say. There have also been some strange cases linked to bedbug infestations. Researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 that they treated a 60-year-old man for anemia caused by blood loss from bedbug bites. Another study published in 1991 in the Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology found that people with asthma might be more susceptible to allergic reactions from bedbug bites.
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.

I was at a friend’s house in the afternoon for 3.5 hrs and woke up at 3 am with severe itching, and pain, on my back. My entire back was covered in bites/rashes, clear lines and clusters. I had no idea what it was and went to the doc. Someone suggested shingles. Doc said definitely bug bites. I talked to my friend and they admitted to having seen bed bugs on the couch “recently.” Freaking out I flipped over my entire bedroom, found nothing. Washed the clothes I wore in hot water and high heat drier. I am hoping that the feeding occured during those few hours and no buggs travelled with me. All I had was me, no stuff. Can they “migrate” on people?

Bed bug bites typically appear in groups of three, called the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" pattern. Each victim's reaction to bed bug bites is unique. Some may have a slight reddening of the skin. Others may have a more severe reaction, causing a raised, itchy rash. A raised rash may obscure the individual bites, making it challenging to identify. Sometimes, bites and lesions can throb and become very painful for days after the bugs bit you.
It’s been over a week since the first attack. I did not know where or when I got bit. Then a few days later in the night, I connected the dots. At 3 am I was up comparing bite pics on the internet and sure enough my fear was confirmed. I slept on the couch which is only 10 feet away in my studio with no problem. I did not see the actual bugs. I went and bought Steri-Fab spray–a gallon of it. I cleaned, vacuumed, sprayed the crap out of everything. I washed all my bedding in hot water. I threw out a throw rug. Sprayed baseboards again and around that side of the apartment.
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Bedbugs often invade new areas after being carried there by clothing, luggage, furniture or bedding. The creatures don't discriminate between dirty and clean homes, which means even luxury hotels can be susceptible to bedbugs. The most at-risk places tend to be crowded lodgings with high occupant turnover, such as dormitories, apartment complexes, hotels and homeless shelters.
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.

I was in europe and have always been healthy and felt fine the 2 months while there, on my drive back home I started itching my arm and didn’t think much of it. During the next few days to weeks the itching turned into welts that itched like crazy and got bigger and harder within hours. The redness would then extend out apx. the size of a 50 cent piece that would form a small scab in the middle as it would heal. Then it would heal , but the next few welts would appear in different places. They would start off as itchy flat red circles that would quickly become firm and red. I sometimes would also feel stings all over . I’ve had this problem now for over a month. One dr. told me I had mites, another said I had bed bugs. I have small scars all over my body now. I used the all over cream 4 nights ago that is supposed to kill mites. The itching is still there but not quite as bad today and yesterday. I’ m going for a third opinion tomorrow. I never knew that itching can keep me from working or actually doing anything else except for keeping calamine lotion beside me and rubbing it on me every 10 minutes. Good luck to all of you that are dealing with the same nightmare.


Bedbugs often invade new areas after being carried there by clothing, luggage, furniture or bedding. The creatures don't discriminate between dirty and clean homes, which means even luxury hotels can be susceptible to bedbugs. The most at-risk places tend to be crowded lodgings with high occupant turnover, such as dormitories, apartment complexes, hotels and homeless shelters.
The first sign of a bed bug problem is obvious: the bed. After bed bugs feed on humans, they'll leave behind blood stains resembling small rust spots. These will usually be found near the corners and edges of the bed. Bed bugs also shed their skin, or molt, several times as they mature, so you may find their oval brown exoskeletons during your search.
Kept replacing the sticky traps just in case but never caught anything other than the occasional spider. Always cycled the sheets and such using the car+sun. They were still getting to us. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump. They had to be in the bed frame. I check it over and notice rusty spotting, which is apparently bed bug fecal matter. Luckily ours was from IKEA so it was easy to take apart – and sure enough – there they were. The way my bed works is a metal frame with holes, rubber end caps fit into those holes, and wooden slats run across the frame in the end caps. So every few days I’d mix up a 50/50 mix of bleach and water in a bucket and soak the wooden slats and end caps for ten minutes. The bed bugs were gone a couple of weeks and came back. I started soaking the things longer and scraping them with a disposable spoon, which was hard to do on the end caps. It warped the wood a little but nothing too bad. After a couple of weeks or so, I stopped finding bed bugs in the frame. I was worried they were in the metal too, but I completely stopped getting bites. I think the added time and scraping got rid of eggs. Not a lot can survive a 30 minute bleach bath.
But the bites will look different from person to person, and some people won’t develop any reaction whatsoever. “The same bedbug could bite two different people and one could have no reaction at all and the other can have an extreme reaction with a swollen arm or itchy rash,” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist and business manager for the national pest control company Rentokil Steritech, who is based in Redding, Pennsylvania. Some people end up developing a rash that looks like eczema. (5)
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