Bed Bugs – What You Need to Know

Remember the childhood rhyme, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”? For most Americans, bed bugs were only a thing of nursery rhymes until the 1990’s when they began to make a resurgence in the United States, showing up in hotels and motels. Since that time, bed bug populations in the United States have increased exponentially, creating a need for increased awareness and education across the country. The Facts: Bed bugs are small, flat-bodied, oval shaped insects that can vary in size from about the size of a pin head (nymphal stage) to an apple seed (adult bed bug). They do not fly or jump, rather they move from host to host or place to place by crawling, often “hitch-hiking” on items such as luggage, purses, or book bags. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood and, on average, live for 6 to 12 months. In optimal conditions, a bed bug population can double every 16 days. Bed bugs spend the majority of their time hiding in cracks and crevices near their host, but with a heavy infestation can seek refuge elsewhere. They become active a night, depending on their host’s schedule, and are attracted to carbon dioxide exhalations and body heat. Prevention Tips: When traveling, check your room for bed bugs prior to bringing luggage into the room. After returning home from travel, put your items in a dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes to kill any “hitch-hiking” bed bugs. Check secondhand items for signs of bed bugs before bringing them into your home. Vacuum regularly and dispose of vacuum contents immediately in an outdoor garbage can. Eliminate clutter in your home. This will reduce hiding spots for bed bugs in the event that they are brought into your home. Source: Bed Bug Biology and Behavior. Virginia Cooperative Extension. **If you think you may have bed bugs in your home, you are welcome to bring them to our Associate Certified Entomologist for positive identification. Once bed bugs have been positively identified, we can let you know the best course of action. You can also contact us or give us a call at 724-349-7900.