What do bed bugs look like?

Adult bed bugs are ¼ inch long (about the size of an apple seed) , reddish brown and oval with flattened bodies that swell after feeding. They are wingless insects with six legs.  Young bed bugs resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color.  Because they are active at night instead of during day time hours, they are often difficult to discover, but they are large enough to be seen with the naked eye.

How can I check for bed bugs in a particular room?

Because they are nocturnal, bed bugs can be difficult to spot.  Places to look for bed bugs include cracks and crevices in furniture, cracks in baseboards, carpet, mattresses and bedding, etc.  Bed bugs typically are found close to the location of their next meal, but they can crawl several feet into other rooms, apartments, and living spaces.  Other signs of a bed bug infestation are tiny, rusty red spots on mattresses, sheets or pajamas.  These spots are bed bug excrement and are evidence that a bed bug has had a blood meal.  You may also find dead bed bugs or their exoskeleton "shells" that can be left behind as young bed bugs molt into adult bed bugs.  One of the most obvious signs, however, are itchy red bites that appear as swollen red welts on the skin.

How can I tell if I have been bitten?

Some people show no reaction to bed bug bites, but for others, the reaction can be severe.  A bed bug bite can appear to be similar to that of a spider, mosquito or flea, but often results in a very itchy welt that sometimes swells.  If you wake up with itchy bites that you did not have when you went to bed, this can be a clue that you might have unwanted guests in your bed.

How many months can bed bugs live?

The normal life expectancy of a bed bug is about 10 months to one year.  There are many factors that can influence how long bed bugs live.  One factor is humidity, as bed bugs tend to live longer in humid conditions.  Bed bugs can survive without feeding for many weeks and even months.   Female bed bugs lay eggs in cracks and crevices, and will lay between 10 and 50 in a single batch.  Bed bug eggs are tiny and about the size of a grain of salt.  Bed bugs take about 10 days to hatch.  Young bed bugs molt (or shed their exoskeletons) 5 times before they become adults.  Before each molt, the young bed bugs require a blood meal.

Do bed bugs bite pets such as cats and dogs?

Cimex lectularius, the most common type of bed bug, mainly feeds on blood from human hosts, but it has been known to bite and feed on animals including dogs, cats, birds and rodents.

How can I keep bed bugs from entering my home?

The most common way that bed bugs enter a home is by hitchhiking on belongings, furniture, clothing, and luggage that have been exposed to a bed bug infested area.  Furniture from rental outlets or used furniture stores, luggage and belongings that have traveled and been stored in hotel and motel rooms, planes, trains, college dormitories, apartment buildings, and other locations can all be at risk for harboring traveling bed bugs.  When you travel, check your room for signs of bed bugs--thoroughly check the mattress and around the bed area for brown spots, rusty red blood smears or stains, or live bugs.  When you return from a trip, check your clothing as you unpack, and vaccuum empty suitcases.  See our Travel Tips page for more ideas to protect yourself against bed bugs when you travel.

Why are bed bugs so prevalent now?

Bed bugs are a huge problem all over the world, and they are making a comeback in the U.S. due to increased travel abroad.  Bed bugs commonly enter the country by hiding in suitcases, and then they reproduce and make themselves at home in their new surroundings when the suitcase contents are unpacked.  Bed bugs have developed adaptations that have made them very resistant.  This is why heat remediation is the best option for exterminating a bed bug infested area.  Heat remediation is 100% effective the first time, and there is no need for a repeat treatment.  Heat remediation is also safe for furniture and personal belongings.