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.
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.
Heat treatment: Heat of 120 F for two hours will kill bedbugs. Wash items in hot water (120 F or above). This may not be enough, though, so it's recommended that you place items in a clothes dryer on hot heat for at least 30 minutes. In a hot climate, you can bag items in a black plastic bag and leave them in direct sunlight for 24 hours. For travel or home use, there are portable heating units that can be used for clothing and luggage. A garment steamer can also be used on some items, such as luggage.
I use witch hazel with aloe vera (from Thayers). Apply with Q-tip or cotton ball. WORKS VERY WELL for me, especially when applied soon after bite is detected. Found that if it stings a bit when applied, it is likely that bite was recent, and more likely to reduce the itch. If I apply soon after a bite, I feel a little sting from the astringent, and the itch if often eliminated (although not sure how large the bugs are that bit me).
People don't often consider bed bugs until they've left their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. Bed bugs can also leave their bites in straight rows and, while they don't spread diseases to humans, their bites are quite irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.
Many chemical pesticides are available, with more than 300 registered by the EPA. Pesticides should be applied to walls, floors, cracks in furniture, and seams and buttons of mattresses.21 The EPA’s Bed Bug Products search tool (Web site: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/bedbug/) allows users to search by product name, company, EPA registration number, location of intended use, and pesticide type. The National Pesticide Information Center (Web site: http://npic.orst.edu/; telephone: 800-858-7378) is another useful resource. Silica gel dusts are a safer alternative to traditional pesticides, because they are less concentrated and less toxic.21 Plastic mattress and pillow encasements can help trap bedbugs and restrict spread.42 Regardless of the integrated pest management strategy used, a follow-up inspection 10 to 21 days after extermination is advised to detect and manage a persistent infestation.42
No. Bed bugs are also pests in poultry operations, and they're known to parasitize bats. Some labs that study bed bugs rear them on guinea pigs and mice. The bugs might feed on cats and dogs. Fur is probably a barrier to them, but they could feed at any place on the body without fur. Bed bugs are not specific to humans, but they are adapted to parasitizing us.
We exterminated our old house,called junk to pick up our furniture (it wasnt lower end items either 8 year old $140,000 furnishings it cost) sold the empty home and hope they had no problem.. We did get the empty house exterminated and told the junk collection we had bugs,I bet they kept our old furnishings as it was beautiful stuff …It made us crazy,those damn bugs…One night 12 bites on my neck,forehead and hands !! I still feel like bugs are crawling on me,I think we need psychiatric care…It took about 1 year to get over the feeling of bugs crawling on us…
As bed bugs grow they molt, shedding their skin five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed between each successive molt. Adult females also must feed in order to lay eggs. Under favorable conditions (70-80°F), the bugs can mature fully in as little as a month, producing multiple generations per year. Cooler temperatures or limited access to blood prolong the development time.
The new plague has an old name: bed bugs. They’re in all 50 states, and can be found everywhere, from airports to motels to mansions. They feed silently in the dark, and leave behind a distinctive calling card: a cluster of itchy red bites. If you believe that you’re suffering a bed bug infestation, you’ll want to take action against the bugs right away, but while you’re fighting them, you may also want to treat the bites.
We helped a girl who we ran into who was being beaten by her B/F. She and her daughter stayed one night, and we got them to a safe place. Now we have bed bugs. I threw away our bed. (Our guest had used one of our blankets.) Thank God my landlord is going to get an exterminator! It’s at least $300 for them to come in. And yes, the itch is unbearable.
The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not previously been widely available. Other contributing factors that are less frequently mentioned in news reports are increased public awareness and slum clearance programs that combined pesticide use with steam disinfection, relocation of slum dwellers to new housing, and in some cases also follow-up inspections for several months after relocated tenants moved into their new housing.
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.
Bed bugs are a traveler's nightmare. They can be picked up in hotel rooms, leaving red itchy bumps and possibly rashes to ruin your vacation. Or even worse: If you accidentally bring them back with you, they could infect your whole house. To prevent a plague of bed bugs, here are some tips of what to check while you're on the road and how to determine the symptoms of bed bug bites.
I don’t think my infestation is very extreme RIGHT NOW. i know for a fact they aren’t in or on the mattresses so that only leaves the crevices along the sides of the carpet. i got on my hands and knees to look but i still didn’t see anything. I KNOW THEY’RE THERE, WE HAVE THE BITE MARKS TO PROVE IT!!!!!! the little blood suckers are excellent at hiding.
If I go to an infested apartment, then when I leave I check my shoes very carefully for bugs that may have crawled onto them. I also keep a change of clothes in my garage and put them on before entering my house. Once inside, I immediately put the clothes I wore to the infested apartment in the dryer, which is located in a room just off the garage.
Not sure how we got it since we never go anywhere. Been dealing with this for almost a year. I have terrible bites, scars, scabs and bumps all up and down both hands and arms. Have a bite on my cheek and some on my neck. Hubby has bumps that you can’t see, but you can feel them. I am going crazy itching. I don’t like leaving the house because of how I look. I use cover up and foundation on my hands to mask how bad my hands look. I wear a long-sleeved, summer weight sweater to hide the mess on my arms. Plus I can pull the sleeves down to help cover some of my hands.
With practice and a flashlight, nonprofessionals can become proficient in finding and destroying bed bugs. The process is made easier by reducing clutter, especially in bedrooms and sleeping areas. Bugs that are spotted can be removed with a vacuum (see previous discussion), or killed with over-the-counter insecticides labeled for such use. Most bed bug sprays intended for householders have little remaining effect after the spray has dried. Therefore it’s important to initially contact as many of the insects as possible with the spray droplets. Insecticide labels should be read carefully as some bed bug products should not be used on mattresses and seating areas. Some insecticides applied as powders or dusts (e.g., diatomaceous earth) will kill bed bugs although boric acid powder will not. However powders can be messy and difficult to apply, especially by nonprofessionals. Total release foggers (otherwise known as ‘bug bombs’) are ineffective against bed bugs and potentially dangerous when used incorrectly (see University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet Limitations of Home Insect Foggers).
The best way to confirm that the bites are from bed bugs is to find other evidence of a bed bug infestation. Common telltale signs can be found on or near your mattress: pull up your sheets and check the seams and folds for thin black fecal streaks or small red blood spots. You might also find bed bugs, living or dead, and their discarded shells in various hiding places, such as the joints of your bed frame.
Summer means more time outdoors–and more opportunity for annoying critters to bite you. Most of the time, all you’ll get is a little red bump with itching and maybe a little swelling. These insect bite symptoms can be treated easily with anti-itch creams and over-the-counter antihistamines. Occasionally, bites can cause allergic reactions that lead to severe swelling and shortness of breath; if that happens to you this season, you need to be seen by a doctor.
When traveling, inspect the bedding prior to exposing yourself or your belongings. Seal your dirty clothes in plastic bags. You may even consider encasing your luggage in a plastic bag while you are in a hotel room. Launder your clothing as soon as you get home. You can treat your suitcase by vacuuming, using a clothes steamer, or handwashing it with hot water and soap. You might also consider encasing luggage in a plastic bag between trips.
Bed bug eradication is challenging and it’s prudent to hire a professional when resources allow. However treatment can be expensive, often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Those who cannot afford this often must cope with the problem themselves. A useful step that anyone can take to combat bed bugs is to install bed encasements. Covering the mattress and box spring can help eliminate a substantial portion of the bed bug population -- especially if discovered early while most of the bugs are still confined to the bed area. Extra care should be taken when installing budget encasements since these can tear easily, especially on metal bed frames. Ideally both the mattress and box spring should be encased. If only one encasement is possible it’s often best to cover the box spring which is harder to subsequently inspect.
The likelihood of bed bugs increases if the affected individual has been traveling, or if they have acquired used beds or furnishings before symptoms started to appear. Bed bugs also are suspect if you wake up with itchy welts you did not have when you went to sleep. It’s important to recognize, however, that not all bite-like reactions are due to bed bugs. Confirmation requires finding and identifying the bed bugs, shed skins, fecal spots, etc., which often requires the help of a professional. (Other possible sources of irritation that may be mistaken for bed bugs are discussed in University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet ENT-58, Invisible Itches: Insect and Non-Insect Causes).
I can’t wear any of my rings because my fingers have gotten swollen and they hurt. My wrists have become somewhat painful as well. I get blood blisters that hurt like anything. Those are the worst. I’m living on benadryl and calamine lotion. The calamine seems to be helping to dry them out at least. My right hand is a disaster. Especially on the skin between thumb and forefinger. I look like I’m a leper or something.
We kept feeling something crawling on us when we sat on tge couch. Then tiny bites Started appearing. After months of trying various cleaning approaches, we contacted Terminex. Their inspector found two bedbugs in the seams of a chair in the bedroom , but nothing on the sofa. They charged me a thousand dollars and steam cleaned both the bed, chair and sofa. About 10 days later, we started getting bites again. Terminex came and “dusted” the areas thus time. This continued for a a few months and them the “inspector” from Terminex said they could fund no signs of the bugs rhe last few times and he thought misquitoes were probably biting us. It has been months now and the problem has worsened. Now I get horrible welts when bitten and we constantly look for tangible signs: excrement, bugs in tape, anything before we call a different extermination company but life has become unbearable. We can’t have guests over because we fear they’ll become infected. It has been and is a truly awful experience.
First off you should ALWAYS go to pest control if you think you have bedbugs! You shouldn’t try and get rid of them yourself, 99% of the time it does not work. Plus even if you removed infected areas and wash them it wouldn’t kill the eggs. Plus bedbugs are very easy to get but very hard to get rid of. So you should never do it yourself it won’t work!
"In the past, bedbugs have repeatedly shown the ability to develop resistance to products overly relied upon for their control. The findings of the current study also show similar trends in regard to chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin resistance development in bedbugs," study researcher Ameya Gondhalekar, research assistant professor at Purdue's Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management, said in the Entomology Today statement. "With these findings in mind and from an insecticide resistance management perspective, both bifenthrin and chlorfenapyr should be integrated with other methods used for bed bug elimination in order to preserve their efficacy in the long term."
In comparison to other insect bites, bed bug bite marks are usually in groups of three or more when they appear on the skin. This is sometimes called the “breakfast, lunch and supper bites”. As you can see in the picture below, the bites are rather close to each other. Their bites often look like little red bumps, pimples or even blisters and welts. Some people can also mistake them for flea bites. If one of these insects bite you, you usually won’t even feel it as it uses a form of anesthetic which dulls the pain. Bed bugs also are known to leave bite marks in a straight line, also in close proximity to each other. A single bed bug can bite you a number of times during the night. However, if you have a bed bug infestation, there are usually a large number of these little pests and this can result in a multitude of bite marks. Please also remember that some people may not have a negative reaction to these bites. In fact, sometimes they are mistaken for spider bites, even by medical professionals so make sure you let your doctor know if you feel it could be a bite from bedbugs. Lastly, you will be happy to learn that bed bugs do not fly so you won’t be attacked from the air.
Hi all Im sitting here at 3 in the morning itching away got first bite 3 days ago I know the apt upstairs was heat treated 10 days ago I guess they traveled down here. glad I found this site yesterday I went all around with a hand held heat gun all over base boards and any cracks I can find also vacum three times I will do it all again tomorrow stay tuned Jack
Ive had a boy friend that stayed at a gospel mission in seattle and complained an complained how bad they were there. He came over to my house, which im not blaming him, he has never been bitten. Plus we had another person at our house that came over that has the same problem. Ive been getting bit for about 4 months. Kids sleep in my room an they havent got bit at all. I bombed the room, ive vacuumed, scraped mattress,washed all clothes several times in hot water searched everywhere took off matting that was on my box spring and I could not find a single one!!!! Well since i bombed I havent been bit, but tonight as i was sitting here i finally saw one crawling on my clothes that were on the floor. Now im freaked out! Could there only be one? Or do they always produce a family?
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.
Hi please help me out Natasha! A few days ago I woke up at midnight to find 3 bites in a almost straight line and I was afraid that it was a bed bug my mom said that there was a chance of it being a misquito since I was outside all night long but I’m still getting this weird feeling that it could be bed bugs what do you think it is can you take a guess. Help!
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So I have had bedbugs before and I had tons of bites everywhere from my feet to my neck! This time im not exactly sure if I have bed bugs.. I came home one evening and notices bites on my inner arm and then on my forearm, the ones on my inner arm are out of place and scattered bites, the ones on my fore arm are 3 diagonal dots. I have checked my bed and box spring seeing as I have had them before but there is nothing there? Am I being paranoid or do I really have bed bugs?
Oh, I just killed one crawling up my arm as I’m typing right now and it was filled with MY blood!!!…I don’t know what to do or where to turn…I’m a senior citizen and I am on a limited income so I can’t spend alot of money on this….I am so discouraged and sleep deprived that before I started typing this I sobbed for at least an hour…I cam covered in bed bug bites and treatment is not working anymore. I live in an apartment complex for people 65 and older and someone came down the hall and knocked on my door and ask me if I was alright…I just said I was having a bad night which is an understatement!!!
Hello! Almost overnight I have had a series of small bumps appear on my chest. These bumps look like pimples and they don’t itch at all. I had bed bugs well over a year ago and once they were treated I never saw anything except these bumps recently. My sister thinks I’m just being paranoid because we’ve both checked the bed and saw no signs. And because my chest is always covered, but my arms and legs that are are exposed never have places. I realize that I’m probably being paranoid, but I just wanted an outside opinion.
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?
These nocturnal creatures can hide in beds, floors, furniture, wood, and paper trash during the day. We humans usually become their dinner during the night, with peak biting activity just before dawn.They can obtain their meal in as little as three minutes, after which they are engorged and drop off the host, then crawl into a hiding place to digest their meal. Bedbugs can live for 10 months, and can go weeks without feeding.