How Many Bed Bugs Is An Infestation
How many bed bugs is an infestation
Understand how bed bug infestations occur and learn what are the possible methods to prevent bed bugs infestations in the house.
How Does a Bed Bug Infestation Occur
There are many ways a dwelling can become infested with bed bugs. In most common cases, bed bugs are unknowingly picked up from infested areas such as hotels, hostel or motels and transported to non-infested areas when they cling onto someone’s luggage, or clothing that is then brought into homes.
Bed bug infestations can also occur in homes because contaminated furniture, especially used bedframes, mattresses, wardrobes or couches are introduced to the home. Toys such as stuffed dolls can also be infested as well.
Since bed bugs are able to live for several months without feeding it is possible for them to be hiding in vacant apartments and homes that appear to be clean. It also possible for bed bugs to migrate from apartment to apartment through small crevices and cracks in walls and floors.
Bed bugs can also live on birds, rodents and household pets and that can be easily carry into a home, allowing the bugs to spread in this manner.
How to Detect the Seriousness of a Bed Bug Infestation
Here are some simple signs that will let you identify infestation and whether the area is heavily infested or if it is a mild bed bug infestation.
- Bed bug bites are usually the first clue in identifying an infestation. The bites will leave red bumps on the back, legs and arms. Since they feed while you are sleeping it is hard to catch them in the act. They can look like other insects bites except they will appear in groups or rows of bites and usually are accompanied by a rash. You will also notice that you are getting bitten just about every night and you are going to see the bumps regularly.
Bed bugs leave behind a great deal of waste in infested areas and it is another method of identifying an infestation. You will notice small bloodstains on your bed sheets from crushed insects, or dark spots from their droppings around your mattresses. Also you will find the skin that is shed during molting, empty egg shells and dead bed bugs in the seams and tufts of your mattress or inside the box spring. The more waste that is found the more heavily infested the area is.
A great way to go about identifying infestation is to use double sided tape. You should line the edges of your mattress and box spring with the tape as well as place it on the floor around the bed. The more heavily infested the room is, the more bugs will be on the tape.
Methods to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations
Some of the things you can do yourself to stop bed bug infestations in your home include:
- You should regularly inspect all possible hiding places of your home for evidence of bed bugs, especially the mattresses and your bedframe.
Repair and seal any cracks that may be present in you the interior and exterior of you home to prevent bed bugs from entering and escaping.
Be sure that windows have screens and repair existing screens to keep birds and other rodents from entering.
Regularly remove excess clutter and clothing because they can be additional hiding spots for bed bugs.
Vacuum the mattresses, bed frames, carpets and upholstered furniture regularly to remove any possible bed bugs and their eggs. Immediately after vacuuming, dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag in an outdoor trash bin.
Use a bed bug spray to treat any suspected infested areas or furnitures. A spray is also a handy tool to help kill off any bed bugs on sight.
Bed Bugs Travel Prevention Tips– Checklists and tips on how to avoid bed bugs while you travel.
Bed Bug Traps– Monitors and traps for the detection and trapping of bed bugs in the house.
Bed Bug Repellent– Get the truth about the effectiveness of bed bug repellent for skin.
U.S. EPA on Bed Bug Control
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on controlling and treating bed bugs.
Cornell University Bed Bug Guide
Guidelines for prevention and managment of bed bugs in shelters and group living facilities.
Bed Bugs FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions on bed bugs from the National Pest Management Association.
This website’s mission is to provide comprehensive information about bed bugs .
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Bed Bugs FAQs
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) 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 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as 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.
Do bed bugs spread disease?
Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
What health risks do bed bugs pose?
A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.
What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
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:
- the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
- bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
- rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
- a sweet musty odor.
How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. 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 marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
Because 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 the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.
How did I get bed bugs?
Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?
Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.
How are bed bugs treated and prevented?
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 bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.
This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.
Bed Bug Facts & Statistics
Read our Bugs Without Borders Survey below for more bed bug statistics.
The following bed bug facts and statistics are compiled from the 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association:
- Almost all (97 percent) pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year.A majority of them say that overall bed bug service work (69 percent) and the prevalence of these pests (66 percent) are increasing.
- Bed bugs may be easily confused with other pests, as 84 percent of pest control professionals were initially contacted about a different type of pest before identifying them as bed bugs. The majority of these contacts (71 percent) were about fleas, followed by cockroaches (28 percent).
- More than half of pest control professionals noted that they receive the most bed bug complaints during the summer, as increased travel during this time of the year may help spread bed bugs from vacation destinations to homes or even college lodgings to homes as students go on summer break.
- The top three places where pest professionals report finding bed bugs are single-family homes (91 percent), apartments/condominiums (89 percent), and hotels/motels (68 percent). Past bed bug statistics have shown these environments to consistently be the top three where bed bugs have been encountered.
- Bed bugs are also found seemingly everywhere else and in higher numbers, such as nursing homes (59 percent), schools and daycare centers (47 percent), offices (46 percent), college dorms (45 percent), hospitals (36 percent) and public transportation (19 percent).
- Bites are the most commonly reported sign of an infestation (92 percent) and more than half of people reach out for treatment after discovering bites and welts on their bodies.Although some people immediately develop a skin reaction to bites, others may take two to three days before showing obvious symptoms or any symptoms at all, meaning that people could be unaware of a bed bug problem until a full-blown infestation has taken root.
- Typically found in couches and bed frames, bed bugs can also be found in some of the most unexpected places, including stuffed animals, wheelchairs, airplanes, school buses, purses and even inside bedside lamps.
Previous Bed Bugs in America Survey
The following bed bug statistics and facts are compiled from the NPMA’s 2011 Bed Bugs in America Survey:
- One out of five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel
- Americans who have encountered bed bugs tend to be younger, live in urban areas and rent their homes. The incidence of bed bugs is three times higher in urban areas than in rural areas due to factors such as larger population size, apartment living and increased mobility, which are conducive to the rapid spread and breeding of bed bugs.
- Bed bugs are found in all 50 states. Specifically, the pests were encountered by 17 percent of respondents in the Northeast; 20 percent in the Midwest; 20 percent in the South; and 19 percent in the West.
- Most Americans are concerned about bed bugs and believe that infestations in the United States are increasing. Nearly 80 percent are most concerned about encountering bed bugs at hotels; 52 percent on public transportation; 49 percent in movie theaters; 44 percent in retail stores; 40 percent in medical facilities; 36 percent in their own homes; and 32 percent equally pointed to places of employment and friends’ homes. The fear of getting bitten topped the list of concerns.
- As the public’s awareness of the bed bug resurgence grows, many Americans are modifying their behaviors to minimize their risk of an infestation: 27 percent have inspected or washed clothing upon returning from a trip; 25 percent have checked a hotel room for bed bugs; 17 percent have inspected or vacuumed a suitcase upon returning from a trip and 12 percent have altered or canceled travel plans because of concern about bed bugs.
- Sixteen percent of survey respondents inspected second-hand furniture they have brought into their homes; 15 percent have checked dressing rooms when trying on clothing and 29 percent have washed new clothing immediately upon bringing it home from a store.
- Of the 13 percent of respondents who said they knew someone who had a bed bug infestation in their home, 40 percent said they avoided entering the infested home and 33 percent discouraged those who had the infestation from entering their own home.
- Despite the availability of information, most Americans still have misconceptions about bed bugs. Nearly half of respondents incorrectly believe that bed bugs transmit disease. However, research conducted to date has shown that bed bugs do not transmit disease to their human victims, although some people may experience itchy, red welts; 29 percent inaccurately believe bed bugs are more common among lower income households, and 37 percent believe bed bugs are attracted to dirty homes. Bed bugs do not discriminate in regard to household income and are found in both sanitary and unsanitary conditions.
How Long Does It Take For A Bed Bug Infestation To Develop?
ByChris Williamson February 6, 2012.
I was recently sent to a job to inspect for Bed Bugs. Previous tenants had been treated for bed bugs and have moved out. Management wanted to know two things: How long has the unit been infested, and were there any live beg bugs. Inspection for bed bugs can be difficult as most units are full of furniture and belongings, this unit was vacant and empty. With full access to all areas of the unit the extent of the infestation was more clearly defined.
Bed bugs, the scourge of the rental industry, are small insects that feed exclusively on human blood. Long lived and easily spread, bed bugs secretive lifestyle makes detection difficult. Relatively few bed bugs start an infestation. In fact, if a male bed bug is the only hitchhiker, no infestation will develop. Only female bed bugs are able to lay eggs. A mated female can lay around 3 eggs a day if feeding is available, laying more than 300 eggs in her lifetime. Small white eggs are cemented to discrete surfaces, near a host, and hatch in about 10 days. Nymphs resemble adults but are much smaller. In order to grow, or molt, nymphs must acquire a blood meal. Depending on the temperature, it takes nymphs about 100 days for the five molts to occur before mating can take place. Roughly 1.5-2 months are required for a complete cycle from egg to mated adult bed bug. Adult bed bugs live about 10 months, although without a host, bed bugs may live over a year.
Bed bug infestations develop slowly. At first very few insects are present, feeding intermittently on the host and may not be noticed. Bites are sometimes overlooked or blamed on some other pest species like spiders. Secretive adults may not be noticed as they feed on sleeping hosts. Over time though, evidence builds up. Bed bugs are gregarious, and can be found living side by side in harborage sites. Great numbers of nymphs and adults can be found together. As these sites become more active, females will migrate to areas of less activity to lay eggs. Male bed bugs want to mate constantly with females, driving them away. This behavior is believed to be what makes bed bugs “spread out” into new areas. Large populations also use up more and more of the hiding spaces near the host, and are forced to seek shelter farther from the feeding site. All the while the bed bugs are pooping. Bed bug feces is little more that partially digested human blood. Fecal spots form as the bed bugs move about and accumulate in and around the harborage sites. Fecal spots are usually clustered, and may have a small “smear” at one side, indicating the direction of the bed bug’s travel. In heavy infestations there may even be a discernable, almost sweet odor, due to large amounts of feces and aggregation secretions. As bed bugs molt during the growth process, the smaller old skin is shed and a new larger skin forms. These skins are also left where they fall and may accumulate over time. In heavy infestations, there may be considerable numbers of these cast skins.
Now, back in the unit to be inspected, I am looking for evidence. I begin with a cursory look around. With a bright flashlight, pliers, and a screwdriver in hand I start with the ceiling edges and walls. As harborage sites become full, bed bugs will end up in corners and on walls. Right away I begin to notice some fecal spots on door frames and at lower closet edges. No activity behind outlet covers, or under carpet in the 2 bedrooms, 12-25 dead bed bugs noted on the bed room floors, some fecal spots on lower closet door and door frames, no live activity. Bases of all 3 hall closet door frames also had fecal spots, dead bed bugs, no live activity. As I began to examine the living room, there seemed to be more and more dead bed bugs, and fecal spotting, increasing as I got over to the baseboard radiator. Fecal spotting all over the metal housing and adjacent molding told me I was getting warm. When I dismantled the housing and pulled the carpet out from under it I hit pay dirt. 1000’s of cast skins, large pockets of blood stained carpet(major harborage site), and hundreds of dead bed bugs were deposited under the carpet and heating unit. There must have been a couch or bed right there. As the infestation grew, the bed bugs spread out along the floor edge and eventually found the bed rooms, where there was much less fecal spotting etc. In my opinion, the focal point of the infestation was the living room. As far as a time table is concerned, based on the life cycle, amount of fecal spotting, and the number of cast skins noted, the infestation was more than a year old, maybe older. 2 live bed bugs were found, although upside down, on the kitchen floor. This indicates that the treatment was working, and that bed bug control is almost complete. My recommendation was to re-treat the unit prior to new tenants moving in to ensure that the infestation is gone completely. If you suspect bed bug activity in your home, contact Colonial Pest for a free quote, or call us right now at 1-800-525-8084!
How Can You Tell the Severity of a Bed Bug Infestation?
ByChris Williamson April 29, 2015.
Bed bug exuviae (shed skins)
A concerned property owner in Rochester, New Hampshire recently asked me if I could tell how long bed bugs had been in an apartment. With legislation in place regarding bed bug infestation and the responsibility of property owners, his concerns were justifiable. New Hampshire now mandates that bed bug or other infestations are the responsibility of the property owner, regardless of the cause of infestation. Fleas may be the only exception to this rule, as pet activity associated with a tenant may directly cause the infestation.
Cockroaches, bed bugs, ants, rodents, fleas, and wasps are the main problems that property owners and property management run into at typical apartment settings. Fleas from a previous tenant will also be covered by this legislation. Now the burden lies on the property owner to provide a pest free living space to all occupants.
As a rule, early detection of a pest problem can lead to an early solution. Problems develop over time, so early detection is critical. This may not be possible, as tenants may not report an issue until it is beyond a quick fix. Non-notification of pest problems may be due to many reasons that I will not go into here. Frequent property inspections and good tenant relations can go a long way in pest prevention.
Documentation of any complaints is critical. Thorough inspection with photos to document the conditions before and after renting an apartment or property will be very helpful to all parties. Always use a Pest Control Professional when dealing with pest issues to avoid potential mistreatment or poisoning.
In the following sections, I will try to describe the different levels of bed bug infestation, divided into three categories: Light, Moderate, and Heavy.
Light Bed Bug Infestation
- New infestation, just arrived. It takes 45-60 days from egg to mated adult (1-2 months)
- Few sightings and blood stains noted if any, 1-2 caught as specimens for identification, minimal irritation from bites. Adult bed bugs are tan to dark reddish brown, flattened, compact insects about 5-6mm long; juveniles are much smaller and are clear with a red or black dot after feeding. Both adults and juveniles are visible.
- Minimal fecal staining (small black stains in areas of travel, feeding, and harborage). Fecal stains will be anywhere the bed bugs hide or travel and can be used to detect hot spots.
- Minimal cast skins (exuviae are the skins shed during the molting process). These small translucent to tan shells can be found near harborage sites, in dust, or in webs. Each bed bug will produce five cast skins during its 100-day juvenile stage.
- Few if any visible eggs. Eggs are laid in clusters near harborage sites and along feeding routes. Eggs look like small white dots or lines glued to surfaces near the host. Females may lay 3 eggs a day if continuous feeding is available, laying over 300 eggs during her 10-11 month lifetime.
- Only 1 or 2 areas of suspect activity noted. Bed bug infestations usually starts in one or two “hot spots” of the home or apartment, then spread as the population increases. Natural migration by females to new areas and spreading through movement of personal items allows bed bugs to find new areas to infest.
Moderate Bed Bug Infestation
- Established Infestation (4-8 months since initial arrival of bed bugs)
- Many live adults and nymphs noted (bloodstains on walls and mattresses, live insects engorged with blood on mattresses, furniture, walls, under carpets, etc.)
- Visible fecal stains present in multiple areas (staining on mattress, sheets, pillows, bed frames, bedside tables, dressers, books, walls, baseboards, curtains, chairs, couches, behind pictures, under and on carpets, etc.)
- Many cast skins (on floors, in webs, under carpets, in dressers, along with dead bed bugs, and bed bugs caught by spiders). By now, there should be hundreds of exuviae.
- Many hot spots (beds and sleeping areas, couches, corners, most furniture has staining and live insects present, all rooms including bathroom may have live bed bugs on walls and ceilings, as well as under carpets near sleeping areas and feeding routes). The bed bug population has spread out from initial hot spots to locations throughout the apartment/home and now pose a threat to neighboring units above, below, and to sides.
Heavy Bed Bug Infestation
- Heavy infestations take 6 months to 1 year to develop. Bed bugs mature relatively slowly; at a certain threshold, multiple overlapping generations are produced and the population will explode if conditions permit.
- Countless adults and nymphs present (Adults walking on walls, clustered in cracks on walls, stained curtains, etc. Dead bed bugs and blood stains on sheets, mattresses, walls, bed frames, on/under carpets, moldings, under tiles, almost every where they can hide and get to a host).
- Heavy fecal staining. This thick blood byproduct becomes like black paint in areas of high bed bug density and traffic. As they move to and from the human host, fecal droplets fall off the backside of the bed bug. Densely populated harborage sites also contain heavy fecal staining. Over time, it becomes thick and even has a semi-sweet, bug smell for aggregation. It is a bad infestation if you can smell this odor. Heavily stained mattresses, box springs, carpets, and other fabric items may need to be discarded or deep cleaned to remove the organic material. Walls, ceilings, and floors will also need attention once the infestation has been taken care of, and certainly prior to rental.
- Cast skins are all over the place. Multiple overlapping generations have produced thousands of exuviae, especially in harborage sites. Heavy infestations create so many exuviae that they will be readily evident upon inspection of areas near sleeping areas.
- Eggs and hatched eggs are visible (along seams, edges of molding, mattress tufts, in couches, dressers, tables, carpet edges, all around hotspots).
- The population is now only limited by access to the host (tenants).
- Heavy infestations can populate entire structures. Due to natural movement from overcrowding as well as transport of personal items, bed bugs can spread to previously uninfested dwellings. Wall voids, pipe chases, electrical apertures, and other hidden conduits may contain adult bed bugs, which can live over 1 year if no host is present, and actively seek a new host.
Bed bugs are no joke, they are real, and can cause serious problems if left untreated. If you suspect bed bugs, call Colonial Pest Control at 1-800-525-8084.