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Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1 millimeter (mm) to 7 mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. Their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found. Bed bugs may be found in homes, apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.
Bed bugs commonly hide during the day in places like seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed.
Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
Bed bugs should not be considered a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance and may cause itching, stress, and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection that may require medical attention.
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite may look similar to mosquito or a flea bite - a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating.
Bed bug bites affect everyone differently. Some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to bed bug bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis. Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat.
The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine.
Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The slim flat bodies of bed bugs allow them to hide and fit into the smallest of spaces like in the seams of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, and furniture. Bed bugs can go for long periods of time without a blood meal.
Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
Anyone can get bed bugs.
Contact your landlord or professional pest control company experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.