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Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed off blood. That is why they are drawn to humans. They are drawn to warm places. Bed bugs get their name because they like to hide in the sheets and mattress crevices of your bed and furniture. Feeding can take up to ten minutes until the bed bug gets fully engorged, falls off, and finds a place to hide while it digests its meal. The host rarely is aware it’s been bitten. 

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs are tiny insects capable of being seen with the naked human eye. Depending on where they are in their life cycle, and whether they just fed or not,  will determine what you’re looking for. All bed bugs are flat and oval-shaped. They have 6 legs, two antennae, and no wings. They are great climbers capable of scaling vertical surfaces with relative ease. 

Nymph bed bugs are translucent in color. If they just fed the abdomen will appear a reddish color. That color will change to a rusty color all the way to black as it digests its meal. The newborn nymph bed bugs range in size of 2 – 5 millimeters in length.

As bed bugs grow into adults they molt their skin and turn a darker brown color. Adult bed bugs are rusty red / brown in color. A fully grown adult is a quarter of an inch long or larger! An adult bed bug is roughly the size of an apple seed.


How Do You Get Bed Bugs?

Where do bed bugs come from? Bed bugs are found where a lot of people come and go. You’ll find them in hotels, hostels, shelters, and apartments. They like to hide in small nooks and crevices. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes and pretty much anything you bring into your home.

Bed bugs are found worldwide but are more common in developed countries. Bed bugs were once a rare thing in the United States, but has seen a rise in population due to more international travel and the government’s ban on a popular, but dangerous, insecticide DDT.

How Can I Tell If We Have Bed Bugs?

You think you found a bed bug. There are signs of bed bugs on a mattress or in sheets that you can look for. If you wake up with itchy areas that weren’t there when you went to bed you may have bed bugs. Remove your bedding and do a thorough search of the mattress, sheets and surrounding area. Look for signs like:

Bloodstains on your sheets or mattress.

Dark or rusty spots on your bedding and nearby walls from bed bug excrement. 

Bed bug fecal spots, eggshells, or shed skin in areas bed bugs may reside.

An offensive musty odor from the bed bug’s scent gland.

Be sure to also check the surrounding area around the bed. Bed bugs will hide in many places. Remove the dust cover of box springs and carefully examine the seams in the wood frame. Peel back the fabric where it’s stapled to get a closer look. Check anything on your nightstand including inside any books, telephones, and radios. Also, check the edge of carpets and even electrical outlets for signs of bed bug infestations.

Can You Get Sick From Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a health risk. While they are carriers of diseases they are not known to cause any. They mainly feed off humans but are known to feed off rodents, dogs, cats and a number of other mammals if humans aren’t available. If a bed bug was feeding off another animal before it bit a human it could potentially carry dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Lab tests have shown bed bugs are carriers of agents of anthrax, yellow fever, plague, and typhus.

Bed Bug Bite Reactions

Most bite victims are unaware they were ever bitten until later. Bed bugs have a numbing agent in their saliva that prevents you from feeling the bite. In addition, bed bugs are nocturnal and tend to bite victims when they are in deep REM sleep.

Each person reacts differently to bed bug bites. Most bites are itchy at first and turn into tiny red welts. Many people mistake these for mosquito bites. Reactions range from nothing to mild red spots to severe rashes or hives. Bed bug bites tend to be in straight lines around your ankle, arms, or shoulders. In order to positively confirm your bite marks are from bed bugs, you must find and identify them.

Is It Hard To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

Yes! It takes time and a lot of energy to remove bed bugs from your home. A professional bed bug exterminator should be involved right away. Not only will they help you locate all the possible spots they are hiding in, but they will also exterminate them, and give you instructions on how to keep them away. Bed bugs can live for up to 1 year without feeding, so you have to remain diligent if you’re to keep them out of your home.

Be patient and determined. Bed bugs will most likely take 3 weeks to a month to completely rid them from your home.

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

First, you should call a bed bug exterminator. Next, be prepared to do a LOT of cleaning and laundry!  Remove ALL affected areas including bed linens, sheets, clothing pillowcases, etc. and wash them with borax. Use hot water and dry on the hottest setting. For areas that you can’t run through the washing machine, like dresser drawers, walls, and floors, dust talcum powder on the area. Use a stiff brush and scrub around the box spring to remove any bed bugs and their eggs. Get rid of all the clutter around your bed and vacuum the area thoroughly and purchase an enzyme cleaner to clean all surfaces. Seal up any areas bed bugs may hide by gluing down loose wallpaper and caulking up walls, and sealing any cracks. Repeat these steps frequently until the infestation is gone.

Purchase a well made, tightly woven mattress and box spring zippered cover. This will seal any bugs inside and prevent more from getting in. Bed bugs can live for up to a year without feeding. So make sure to leave the cover on for at least 1 year. You may want to get rid of your mattress and buy a new one. If you do, be sure to take care of the rest of your home or else bed bugs will infest your new mattress.

How Fast Do Bed Bugs Spread?

Under ideal conditions, you can have a bed bug infestation in as little as 3 – 4 weeks!

A female bed bug can lay 3 to 5 eggs a day, and up to 500 in the span of its lifetime. These eggs hatch in 6 to 10 days into baby bed bugs called nymphs. Nymphs will molt their skin five times before reaching adulthood. They require at least 1 feeding before they molt. An average lifespan of a bed bug is 2 – 4 months.

How To Prevent Bed Bugs

If you are going out of town for a trip make sure to check your lodging immediately. Bed bugs can stow away in your luggage and clothes and enter your home when you return.

If you have purchased any furniture from a second-hand store or garage sale, be sure to check it thoroughly for signs of bed bug infestation before bringing it into your home.

Visitors entering your home may also bring in bed bugs. They don’t have to stay or sleep in your bed either. Be especially mindful of routine visitors like health aides, maids, and nurses who go in and out of many peoples homes as a part of their job.

When coming home from a trip, launder all your clothing before putting them back. Do not unpack your luggage on the carpet. Unload your backs on a hard light surface like cement or hardwood floors where any potential bugs or eggs can easily be seen. Clean your luggage out with a steam cleaner and/or borax.