Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are insects that feed on the blood of people. Bed bugs have a flat, oval-shaped body. They are usually shiny and reddish-brown. However, they become dark brown if they have just eaten. Adults are roughly the size of an apple seed, and nymphs (immature bed bugs) are roughly the size of a sesame seed. Eggs are white and about 1 mm long. Bed bugs will feed about every three days when blood is available, but can live for months without eating if necessary.
At this time there is no evidence that bed bugs can spread disease from one person to another through biting.

Bed bug bites often look like little red bumps – similar to mosquito bites. They often occur in lines across the skin. Some people will develop an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, in which case the bites will become larger and more swollen. Consult your doctor if you believe that you may be having an allergic reaction to bites.

If you believe that bed bugs may be in your home, check your mattress, box spring, and the area around your bed. Look closely near the head of the bed in corners, creases, seams and folds. You may find bed bugs, discarded bed bug exoskeletons, eggs, or egg casings. You may also see black spots or streaks where bed bugs have defecated. Other favorite bed bug hiding places include the bed frame, under the bed, in chairs, couches, dressers, night stands, and other furniture near the bed, curtains, the edge of carpeting, behind baseboards or other trim work, behind electrical plates or loose wallpaper, and in appliances such as clocks or televisions.

First, verify that you have bed bugs. Consult with your health department, county MSU Extension office, or a licensed pest control operator. Once you have verified the presence of bed bugs, you can take the following steps:

  1. DO NOT apply pesticide to the mattress or any other surfaces that receive direct human contact, unless the manufacturer’s label specifically states that the product can be used in such a manner. Bed bugs are resistant to many types of pesticide, and you may end up harming yourself or your family rather than the bed bugs.
  2. Wash all bed linens and place them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Using a nozzle attachment, vacuum crevices on your mattress, bed frame, baseboards, and other objects close to the bed. Scraping these surfaces may be necessary to remove eggs.
  4. Remove all unnecessary clutter. This will help to eliminate hiding places.
  5. Seal cracks and crevices with caulking. Focus on the bed frames (if wooden), floors, walls, and the cracks between baseboards. Seal any openings where pipes, wires, or other utilities come into the room.
  6. Repair or remove peeling wallpaper. Tighten loose light switch or outlet covers.
  7. Monitor bed bugs by putting out glue boards or sticky tape. This may help you determine where the bed bugs are hiding.
  8. Seal your mattress in a hypoallergenic, zippered cover. This will keep additional bed bugs out of the mattress and eventually kill any bed bugs trapped inside.
  9. Consult a licensed pest control operator.

When traveling, do the following:

  1. Check the room for signs of bedbugs before settling in. If you see evidence of bed bugs, request another room.
  2. Hang clothing in the closet farthest from the bed.
  3. Keep luggage away from bed. Use the folding luggage rack provided by most hotels.
  4. Place your luggage in the dry cleaning bag provided by most hotels, and tie off the ends.
  5. Check clothing and luggage before leaving for home.
  6. Wash dirty clothing immediately upon returning home.
  7. Vacuum the interior and exterior of luggage upon returning home.

If at all possible, avoid bringing home used mattresses. Used furniture or electronics should be checked thoroughly for any sign of bed bugs before bringing it into the home. Immediately wash any used clothing that is brought into the home.