WHAT ARE BED BUGS?
Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius) are parasites that feed exclusively on humans and warm-blooded animals as they sleep.
WHAT DO BED BUGS LOOK LIKE?
Bed bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown insects that grow to 4-5 millimeters in size as adults. Bed bugs are sometimes confused with other insects, such as booklice and carpet beetles.
ARE BED BUGS POISONOUS?
Although research has found that Bed bugs can be infected with a multitude of pathogens as a result of their feeding on other hosts such as birds and bats, Bed bugs are not known for spreading disease, although their bites typically produce scratching in humans, and can often lead to mild swelling and slight infections.
HOW ARE BED BUGS DETECTED?
Detecting bed bugs can be difficult since they are nocturnal and remain secluded during the day. And due to their size and body shape, are able to survive inconspicuously in places such as furniture frames, beneath carpeting, behind electrical outlets, and inside furniture and clothing.
While detecting their exact location can be difficult, indications of bed bug infestations are easily noticed by the bites they inflict, along with the blood and fecal spotting they produce.
WHY ARE BED BUGS BECOMING PROBLEMATIC?
Once nearly eradicated in the Western world in the 1940's due to pesticides such as DDT, bed bugs are returning in massive numbers due in large part to complacency, government bans, international travel, along with their ever-growing immunity to existing chemicals.
CAN BED BUGS BE PREVENTED?
Although there are no fool-proof methods to ensure one will never encounter bed bugs, there are some things that can be done to keep them at bay when traveling or spending time outside the home.
• Inspect the hotel room for possible bed bugs by examining the mattress, headboard, boxspring and furniture prior to unpacking. If detected, insist on another room.
• Keep suitcases on a rack, not on furniture. Keep clothing in suitcases or sealed in traveling bags. Do not use dresser drawers. Keep personals stored in plastic bags.
• Place all items including luggage inside a sealed trash bag en route home to avoid any possibility of infecting car or truck.
• Immediately launder or dry clean clothing upon returning home.
• Keep mattresses and pillows in bed bug-proof encasements to help ensure against infestations.
Other general safeguards include avoiding used clothing and furniture unless the source is known or the items can be properly treated before bringing them home.
WHAT CAUSES BED BUG INFESTATIONS?
Bed bug infestations usually begin in public places where people congregate and often sleep, such as apartments, hotels, ships, dormitories, and various methods of public transportation.
With the ability to go widely unnoticed due to their size and shape enabling them to hide in the smallest spaces, bed bugs typically infest homes and businesses by first hiding inside luggage, clothing, bedding, and furniture.
WHO IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO BED BUGS?
The short answer to the question is: everyone.
As noted above, any traveler or visitor can unwittingly be used as a carrier by bed bugs acting as stowaways inside luggage and clothing, and consequently infest an area.