I had bed bugs last June (I live in Chicago and apparently bed bugs are a huge problem here). I’m dreading going through the whole process of exterminating them again. Do you know of any other kind of bugs that bite during the end of winter? Could these bed bugs be from last year? Maybe it’s a new infestation?? I’m going crazy over here! I don’t know what to do
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.
Wearing an insect repellent is not completely effective, although you might try oil of lemon eucalyptus or DEET to prevent bites. Avoid bringing home second-hand items such as used furniture, mattresses, or any item that someone has kept in a bedroom. Unfortunately, bedbugs can linger in items for a year without feeding. Launder all used clothing before storing or wearing it. Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements on your bed. Fill in any cracks and crevices in your bedroom.
Until fairly recently, most people (and even pest control professionals) had never seen a bed bug. Bed bug infestations actually used to be very common in the United States before World War II. But with improvements in hygiene, and especially the widespread use of DDT during the 1940s and ‘50s, the bed bugs all but vanished. The pests persisted, however, in some areas of the world including parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Over roughly the past decade, bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U.S.― they’re appearing increasingly in homes, apartments, hotels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools and public transportation. Other places where bed bugs sometimes occur include movie theaters, laundries, rental furniture, and office buildings. Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. Changes in modern pest control practice, less effective insecticides ― and a decrease in societal vigilance ― are other factors suspected for the recurrence.
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).
If you have been bitten by bedbugs, the good news is that they aren't associated with any disease. You need only to avoid scratching the bites and getting a skin infection. Anti-itch creams may help. Treating your home or possessions to eliminate an infestation is more of a challenge, and you may need both nonchemical and chemical treatments. Learn how to treat your bites and get rid of bedbugs.
Bedbug bites, like all insect bites, can become infected through excessive scratching, as underneath the fingernails lies a host of bacterial pathogens. If your bites become infected, they will appear red and swollen, feel tender and may drain pus. Typically there will not be a fever unless a substantial area of the skin is involved. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention as it points to a secondary infection. Your physician may prescribe antibiotic therapy or, if the infection is mild, an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription.
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 hide in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed during the day. Bed bugs are transmitted from place to place as people travel. They can be in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, or anywhere else they find a place to hide.
Once an infestation is confirmed, an integrated pest management strategy should be employed. Promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an integrated pest management strategy is a multi-faceted, comprehensive strategy that relies on knowledge of bedbug biology and habits, and the most up-to-date pest control methods.3 An integrated pest management strategy minimizes economic, environmental, and health hazards, and is most effective for small bedbug populations.
Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals. Cimex lectularius only feeds every five to seven days, which suggests that it does not spend the majority of its life searching for a host. When a bed bug is starved, it leaves its shelter and searches for a host. It returns to its shelter after successful feeding or if it encounters exposure to light. Cimex lectularius aggregate under all life stages and mating conditions. Bed bugs may choose to aggregate because of predation, resistance to desiccation, and more opportunities to find a mate. Airborne pheromones are responsible for aggregations.
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.
Bed bug bites do not typically require treatment. It is best to clean the bite site(s) with soap and water and avoid scratching so as to prevent secondary infection. Progressive swelling, warmth, tenderness and sometimes (albeit rarely) fever may be signs of secondary infection, which should be managed with antibiotics as appropriate. Much more common are complaints of itching. For how to treat bed bug bites that cause severe itching, topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines may offer relief from itching and thus decrease the risk of infecting the bite site.
Don’t forget that in some cases a person does not react to bed bug bites at all. It’s really not that easy to easily identify bed bug bites. Often a diagnosis of spider bite is given when the person really doesn’t know what is causing the lesion(s). Spider bites are often an over diagnosed condition. Also, a hot or warm dryer is much more useful than washing clothes in hot water. Certain studies have shown that some bed bugs will withstand the wash, but not the dryer.
Considering how time-consuming and costly it can be to eradicate bed bugs, it’s prudent to take precautions and avoid infestations in the first place. Householders should be vigilant when acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches. Discarded items should be avoided, and secondhand articles should be examined closely before being brought into the home. Look carefully in the folds and seams of furniture for signs of bed bugs (see the previous section entitled "Description and Habits" for more details). There is no reason to stop shopping in consignment stores, yard sales, etc., but it would be prudent to run clothing and fabric items through the washer or dryer before storing them in the home. The risk of acquiring bed bugs from items purchased in antique stores would generally be insignificant.
Fumigation using a penetrating gas is another way to de-infest dwellings or furnishings, but the procedure is only offered by certain companies. True fumigation is not the same as setting off a total release fogger or ‘bug bomb.’ (It should be noted that bug bombs are considered ineffective in the treatment of bed bugs, and can be quite dangerous if misused.) The fumigation process is technically complex and requires vacating the building for a period of days. The building is then sealed and injected with a lethal gas, usually sulfuryl fluoride. Because the entire building must be vacated, structural fumigation is logistically more challenging with multi-unit buildings such as apartments, than for single family homes. Bed bug fumigations tend to be more common in southern and western states, where the procedure is also used to control certain types of wood-dwelling termites.
Just wondering if it is unusual for bed bugs to bite where you are clothed? I have 3 bites, in a diagonal line on one side and in a triangle shape on the other side of my pelvic area both which are covered by underwear at night. Then I have a random spot here and there on my legs. We have a plastic mattress cover on our bed but use dark sheets. As best I can tell there is no evidence of bed bugs. What do you think? Thanks!
I recently stayed at a nice resort and ended up with bed bug bites. Since I was on vacation, I had nothing with me for itching except (and don’t laugh) hemorrhoid wipes. I was desperate so I tried one and the itching would stop for a few hours (unless something touched the bites). Now after reading the posts here I see that witch hazel and aloe, both of which are in these wipes, are one of the better treatments for the itching. The wipes were great, they are “wipes to go” which means individually wrapped so I could carry one in my purse and use it throughout the day as needed and then just fold it up and put it back into the wrapper til next time. These can be bought OTC at any pharmacy and I have the store brand, not name brand.
Bed bugs infestations can be treated by pesticides (make sure it specifically treats for bed bugs) or call a professional. Clean laundry and bedding by washing in hot water and drying with high heat. Steam cleaning can be effective, but be sure to check for bugs in a week or two. Concentrate in the areas they like to hide such as the seams. Bed bugs are sensitive to heat, so putting your mattress in a tight plastic bag and leaving it in the heat for several days can kill adults and the eggs. Vacuum your mattress and the areas around it. Be sure to immediately empty the vacuum cleaner and throw it out. If your mattress is infested, you may also consider getting a new mattress, but be sure to take care of the rest of your home so that your new mattress doesn’t get infested.
Bedbugs are small wingless insects with a flat body. Like all insects, they have six legs. Their color can range from whitish to brown, but after feeding (on blood from animals or people), they appear rusty red. Bedbugs grow to about 0.5 cm in length and can be seen by the naked eye. Their name comes from the fact that they often hide in bedding or mattresses.
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.
I’ve encountered mosquito bites, flea bites and spider bites, but never had I encountered bed bug bites, that is until I travelled to San Francisco, CA. I made the trip at least four times a year; however, this time was different—opting to stay in a nearby hotel instead of with family or friends. I remember lying in bed. The room was hot and stuffy, causing me to toss and turn throughout the night. When morning came, I was exhausted but began my usual morning routine eager to get on the road. After a quick rinse, I dragged myself over to the mirror; that’s when I noticed them—little red bumps across my chest. Quickly, I scurried over to the bed—pulling off sheets, flipping pillows, inspecting the mattress and the box spring—nothing! Ugh, how could this have happened? It was a top-rated hotel. Were these bed bug bites, or was it another blood-sucking insect?
Most people will find bed bug bites to be small and very itchy. These bites are often mistaken for something else such as eczema. It can be hard to diagnose bed bug bites due to this, especially if someone inflames their skin further by scratching the area. There are some signs that point more strongly to bed bugs over other types of bugs. The number one thing to look out for is a line of bites going straight up your body: bed bugs commonly bite in this pattern as they bite you at the crease where your body meets the bed sheets. It’s very rare to find a single bite like you would with spiders or mosquitoes, and much more common to find clusters and lines. It’s also rare for bugs to bite your face. They most frequently bite your lower body, but anywhere can be bitten.
Adult bedbugs are reddish brown in color, flat, oval-shaped, wingless and approximately 4-5 millimeters in length. Immature bedbugs (nymphs) may be translucent or light tan in color and therefore very difficult to see. Bedbugs are often more red in color after feeding. Bedbugs are attracted by warmth, and they generally feed during the night, often just before dawn. They tend to feed every five to 10 days, though they can survive without feeding for several months. Bedbugs pierce the skin and inject saliva that contains anesthetics and anticoagulants into the host, which often make their bites painless initially. After feeding on the host's blood for several minutes, bedbugs will crawl back to their hiding place. They will generally try to hide and remain within close range of their warm-blooded host. Affected individuals may feel and see the consequences of the bedbug bite afterward, though many individuals will not develop any physical signs of a bite. Bedbugs do not transmit or spread human disease.