FAQ

Are bed bugs large enough to be seen?

Yes, bed bug adults, immature stages (nymphs), and eggs can be seen with the naked eye (unless you have very poor eyesight). However, bed bugs typically hide during the day and come out at nighttime when they feed, so you may not see them.

What do bed bugs eat?

Bed bugs eat blood. They feed on a live host, preferably a human, in order to obtain blood. They do not drink water. Bed bugs will not feed on blood oozing from a cut or wound.

Will bed bugs feed on my pets?

Yes, bed bugs will feed on any warm blooded animal (e.g., cats, dogs, birds, bats, and rodents), but they prefer to feed on humans. If they feed on a pet, they typically feed on those areas with less fur or feathers. Bed bugs are unlikely to remain on the animal after feeding.

Everyone else in my household is getting bitten, so why aren’t the bed bugs biting me?

If you live with bed bugs, they are most likely biting you, but you simply are not showing any signs of their bites. Approximately 3 of 10 people do not have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites.

Why don’t the bites on my friends look exactly alike?

Approximately 7 of 10 people have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites. For those people who do react, the bite reaction can look different from person to person depending on how their body responds to the bite.

Are bed bugs public health pests?

Yes, bed bugs are recognized as important public health pests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Both of these federal agencies strongly encourage the involvement of local public health agencies since bed bugs pose numerous health risks. Some people experience unpleasant itchy bite reactions, and the bite sites can become infected if they are scratched open. Some people have very severe reactions to bed bug bites and experience complex (bullous) reactions, which are medically significant as they are associated with local, highly destructive, inflammation of the blood vessels (cutaneous vasculitis).In some cases, bed bug bites can be so numerous and prolonged that the person experiences anemia due to blood loss. Bed bugs and their shed skins can trigger asthmatic reactions in humans. People living with bed bugs often experience sleeplessness, anxiety, and stress. Others also may experience depression. Bed bugs can cause feelings of fear, anger, frustration, embarrassment, paranoia, and social stigmatization. Such an array of health effects caused by bed bugs can make a person more susceptible to common diseases.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Based on current evidence, bed bugs are not known to transmit human disease. This issue requires more research.

Will bed bugs live on my body?

No, bed bugs typically do not stay on a person’s skin for any longer than it takes them to feed. Immediately after feeding, they seek a site off of the host’s body to hide and digest their blood meal. In very heavily infested homes, bed bugs may crawl on people and hide in seams and folds of clothing worn by the person. Bed bugs typically do not exhibit this behavior except in heavy infestations.

Am I likely to pick up bed bugs from a co-worker in my office?

No. Bed bugs can show up in offices, lobbies, schools, and other communal areas, but most often, these incidents involve a few bed bugs that have hitchhiked on belongings from someone in a heavily infested home. It is possible that a bed bug then could get into your belongings at the office, so it is wise to store your purse, briefcase, coat, etc. in a sealed bag or plastic tote if bed bugs are a frequent problem at your workplace.

What is the silver bullet to control bed bugs?

There is no silver bullet! Bed bug control typically takes lots of time and effort. It is a good idea to consider hiring a knowledgeable pest management professional to control bed bugs.

Will over-the-counter insecticides control my bed bug infestation?

No. Many over-the-counter insecticides are contact insecticides (look for this wording on the product label) that kill only those bed bugs that are directly sprayed with the product. They do not kill bed bugs that are hiding in cracks and crevices (behind the baseboards, under the carpet, along mattress seams, etc.). Over-the-counter products generally have little effectiveness after they have dried.

Should I use ‘bug bombs’ against bed bugs?

No. Total release aerosol insecticides (a.k.a. ‘bug bombs’) are not effective in controlling bed bugs. Bug bombs may make the problem worse by scattering the bugs throughout your home. Researchers have documented the ineffectiveness of several bug bomb products against bed bugs (Jones, S. C., and J. L. Bryant2012).

Are ultrasonic devices effective against bed bugs?

No. Researchers have documented the ineffectiveness of ultrasonic devices against bed bugs (Yturralde, K. M., and R. W. Hofstetter. 2012). Bed bugs don’t have ears! Independent research repeatedly has shown that ultrasonic devices are not effective against any type of insect or vertebrate pest. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a regulatory agency, has filed charges for deception, false claims, etc. against some ultrasonic manufacturers.

Should I throw away my furniture now that I have bed bugs?

No. Your first step should be to treat the residence and the furniture to kill the bed bugs. If you decide to throw away any furniture, but sure to completely wrap each item so that bed bugs don’t fall off as you are moving the items. It is a good idea to deface and damage each item so that nobody else wants to remove it from the trash.

If I visit a bed bug infested apartment, how can I help protect myself from getting bed bug hitchhikers?

Remember that bed bugs are most active at night, so daytime may be best for your visit. Take as few items as possible with you into an infested apartment. Bed bugs are most likely to bite you or perhaps climb into your clothing if you are sitting, sleeping, or lounging on infested furniture. Remember that the bugs also may crawl into your belongings if you have placed them on an infested item. In particular, avoid sitting on upholstered furniture or beds, and don’t place any of your belongings there. Consider standing or sitting at a kitchen table since bed bugs often are less numerous in areas where people don’t rest for long periods of time. Otherwise, you are not very likely to get bed bug hitchhikers unless there is a very heavy bed bug infestation. If the apartment is very heavily infested and bed bugs are in the carpet, then the bugs may hide on your shoes, especially the underside, where they can crawl into gaps created by the shoe tread. It is especially important to inspect your shoes after exiting. A good practice is to change into fresh clothes and shoes; be sure to immediately place any potentially infested items into a bag and seal it until you can launder the items. Put any potentially infested clothing through the dryer on medium to high heat (120°F is needed) for 30 minutes to kill any bed bugs.

 

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