How Often Do Bed Bugs Poop

Bed Bug Feces: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know

Bed bugs are notoriously hard to spot. Many victims have a hard time confirming whether or not they have a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites don’t always leave marks, and when they do the marks are often mixed up with spider bites or skin rashes. But if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that everybody poops — even bed bugs.

Bed bugs live, grow, and reproduce by feeding on mammal blood. Each bug feeds every 5-10 days, biting multiple times and using an anesthetic in their saliva to numb the pain. Some times, bed bugs begin dropping feces from earlier blood meals just after they’ve finished feeding. Bed bug feces are left behind as the bug flees for a nearby hiding place.

If you find a dark spot or streak on your bedding, you might be worried that it’s from a bed bug. You may also be concerned that the feces left on your bed can get you sick. But how can you be sure that you’ve found bed bug feces? And what are the feces doing for your health? Let’s dig in and learn what we need to know… even though we don’t want to know.

Identifying Bed Bug Feces

One of the most reliable ways to confirm a bed bug infestation is to find and possitively identify bed bug feces. But since the fecal matter can look similar to other types of markings, it’s important that you be sure of what you found.

Bed bugs leave their feces everywhere, from pillowcases and sheets to sofa cushions, baseboards, and outlets. Bed bug poop is made up of digested blood. When wet, it’s still dark red like blood would be. When it dries, the mark turns into a very dark rust shade, and will usually appear black in most lighting.

Like many animals, bed bugs poop while they walk. It’s gross, but it’s efficient when you’re constantly on the move in the wild. Since bed bugs walk with their bodies flat and close to the ground, their droppings tend to drag along their tail on release. This results in bed bug feces looking more like thin, black streaks rather than what we would consider characteristic of poop.

Not sure if that black smudge, spot, or streak is from a bed bug or not? A reliable way to confirm that a mark is made of bed bug fecal matter is to dab it with a wet cloth or paper towel. Bed bug feces will smudge when wiped, and the previously black mark will stain red when wet. While the red color may not appear on the surface that the fecal matter was found on, it should show up on the damp cloth that you used.

Can Bed Bug Feces Impact Your Health?

A common concern when finding bed bug feces is wondering what effects it might be having on your health. While the exact health impact of a bed bug’s fecal matter is still uncertain, recent studies have pinned down certain chemicals in the feces, and it’s not all rosey:

Bed bug feces contain histamine, a component of their aggregation pheromone. Histamine is released from bed bug fecal matter along with the pheromones released when bed bugs are congregating. This is where the “sweet” odor comes from in a heavily infested area.

While humans naturally release histamine in response to an allergic reaction, it can ironically trigger allergy symptoms when we come in contact with it in our environment. People exposed to histamine may experience itching or asthma symptoms.

A study published in 2018 found that dust collected from homes with prior bed bug infestations had much higher histamine levels than dust from bed bug-free households. Long after the bugs are gone, the histamine released from their poop lingers in a home. It’s possible that the remaining histamine can still trigger symptoms in the same way that other exposures to histamine can.

Fecal Stains During Bed Bug Treatments

Inspecting for bed bug feces plays a critical role before, during, and after your bed bug treatment. Now that you know what bed bug feces looks like, it’s important to integrate it into your treatment routine.

First, bed bug droppings are a key way of identifying bed bug activity. Since droppings are released after bed bugs feed, and are left in the path of their escape from a host, you’ll find them near where they were feeding as well as where they went to hide afterwards. A positive identification of bed bug feces can also help confirm if you have a bed bug infestation if you weren’t sure yet.

An important part of your bed bug treatment, and one we focus heavily with our 4-step solution, is treating and isolating where you sleep to prevent feeding. Bed bugs need to feed in order to mature and reproduce, so cutting off this cycle is essential to getting rid of bed bugs for good. With that in mind, you’ll need to keep an eye out for new bed bug feces after you’ve treated, encased, and isolated your bed.

If you do find new fecal streaks even after isolating your bed, it’s a sign that bed bugs have been feeding despite your efforts to prevent their access to a meal. This means that the bugs can continue to develop and lay eggs once they’re sexually mature, so it’s important to address how they’re still able to feed. Go over every potential access point, such as any part of the bed still touching the walls, floor, or other nearby furniture. Check that ClimbUp Interceptors are installed properly under every leg of the bed, and that encasements are securely enclosed around the mattress and box spring. As long as the bed is fully treated, encased, and isolated, there shouldn’t be any more poop popping up.

Bed Bug Feces: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know

Bed bugs are notoriously hard to spot. Many victims have a hard time confirming whether or not they have a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites don’t always leave marks, and when they do the marks are often mixed up with spider bites or skin rashes. But if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that everybody poops — even bed bugs.

Bed bugs live, grow, and reproduce by feeding on mammal blood. Each bug feeds every 5-10 days, biting multiple times and using an anesthetic in their saliva to numb the pain. Some times, bed bugs begin dropping feces from earlier blood meals just after they’ve finished feeding. Bed bug feces are left behind as the bug flees for a nearby hiding place.

If you find a dark spot or streak on your bedding, you might be worried that it’s from a bed bug. You may also be concerned that the feces left on your bed can get you sick. But how can you be sure that you’ve found bed bug feces? And what are the feces doing for your health? Let’s dig in and learn what we need to know… even though we don’t want to know.

Identifying Bed Bug Feces

One of the most reliable ways to confirm a bed bug infestation is to find and possitively identify bed bug feces. But since the fecal matter can look similar to other types of markings, it’s important that you be sure of what you found.

Bed bugs leave their feces everywhere, from pillowcases and sheets to sofa cushions, baseboards, and outlets. Bed bug poop is made up of digested blood. When wet, it’s still dark red like blood would be. When it dries, the mark turns into a very dark rust shade, and will usually appear black in most lighting.

Like many animals, bed bugs poop while they walk. It’s gross, but it’s efficient when you’re constantly on the move in the wild. Since bed bugs walk with their bodies flat and close to the ground, their droppings tend to drag along their tail on release. This results in bed bug feces looking more like thin, black streaks rather than what we would consider characteristic of poop.

Not sure if that black smudge, spot, or streak is from a bed bug or not? A reliable way to confirm that a mark is made of bed bug fecal matter is to dab it with a wet cloth or paper towel. Bed bug feces will smudge when wiped, and the previously black mark will stain red when wet. While the red color may not appear on the surface that the fecal matter was found on, it should show up on the damp cloth that you used.

Can Bed Bug Feces Impact Your Health?

A common concern when finding bed bug feces is wondering what effects it might be having on your health. While the exact health impact of a bed bug’s fecal matter is still uncertain, recent studies have pinned down certain chemicals in the feces, and it’s not all rosey:

Bed bug feces contain histamine, a component of their aggregation pheromone. Histamine is released from bed bug fecal matter along with the pheromones released when bed bugs are congregating. This is where the “sweet” odor comes from in a heavily infested area.

While humans naturally release histamine in response to an allergic reaction, it can ironically trigger allergy symptoms when we come in contact with it in our environment. People exposed to histamine may experience itching or asthma symptoms.

A study published in 2018 found that dust collected from homes with prior bed bug infestations had much higher histamine levels than dust from bed bug-free households. Long after the bugs are gone, the histamine released from their poop lingers in a home. It’s possible that the remaining histamine can still trigger symptoms in the same way that other exposures to histamine can.

Fecal Stains During Bed Bug Treatments

Inspecting for bed bug feces plays a critical role before, during, and after your bed bug treatment. Now that you know what bed bug feces looks like, it’s important to integrate it into your treatment routine.

First, bed bug droppings are a key way of identifying bed bug activity. Since droppings are released after bed bugs feed, and are left in the path of their escape from a host, you’ll find them near where they were feeding as well as where they went to hide afterwards. A positive identification of bed bug feces can also help confirm if you have a bed bug infestation if you weren’t sure yet.

An important part of your bed bug treatment, and one we focus heavily with our 4-step solution, is treating and isolating where you sleep to prevent feeding. Bed bugs need to feed in order to mature and reproduce, so cutting off this cycle is essential to getting rid of bed bugs for good. With that in mind, you’ll need to keep an eye out for new bed bug feces after you’ve treated, encased, and isolated your bed.

If you do find new fecal streaks even after isolating your bed, it’s a sign that bed bugs have been feeding despite your efforts to prevent their access to a meal. This means that the bugs can continue to develop and lay eggs once they’re sexually mature, so it’s important to address how they’re still able to feed. Go over every potential access point, such as any part of the bed still touching the walls, floor, or other nearby furniture. Check that ClimbUp Interceptors are installed properly under every leg of the bed, and that encasements are securely enclosed around the mattress and box spring. As long as the bed is fully treated, encased, and isolated, there shouldn’t be any more poop popping up.

Bed Bug Symptoms

Bites are usually one of the first bed bug symptoms people notice. But bites alone are not enough to diagnose a situation as bed bugs. Not to mention that by the time you notice bite symptoms there may already be more than one generation of bedbugs living under your roof. Here you’ll learn the tell-tale signs of bed bug infestation, see pictures of what they look like find out how to inspect for them.

More photos of the common signs of bed bug infestation can also be found on the bed bug symptoms page in our bed bug picture gallery.

Important Note About Bed Bug Bites:

While they are usually the first thing people notice, bed bug bite symptoms are similar to many other insect bites and allergic reactions.

You simply can’t determine whether or not bed bugs are to blame without inspecting and detecting other symptoms and signs of bed bug infestation.

Luckily, bed bugs leave behind 8 other signs of their presence.

4 Common Signs Bed Bugs Leave Behind

Bed Bug Symptom #1: Feces and Fecal Stains

When bed bugs take a blood meal, they defecate (poo) almost immediately. That just adds insult to injury if you ask me! The stains left behind are often one of the first physical signs of bed bugs you will see.

Bed bug feces ("poop") leave dark stains that look like a felt tip marker stain. The stain will often “bleed” into the fabric and look as if you went to bed with an open sharpie pen.

When you inspect for bed bugs, you may find stains like these on your pillow case or sheets or on the mattress itself.

Fecal stains or actual droppings can also be found around the harborages where bed bugs are hiding when they are not busy feeding.

Bed Bug Symptom #2: Blood Smears and Stains

Blood spots may also appear on the sheets or mattress. These stains are the result of engorged (blood-filled) bed bugs being crushed. This usually happens if you roll over while they are feeding and they become trapped between you and the bed.

You will usually find these kinds of stains on your sheets or pillowcases themselves. Occasionally you might also find stains like this on your pajamas as well.

The more of a restless sleeper you are, the more likely you are to find this symptom of bed bugs in your bed.

Note:Much like bites,blood stains alone arenot enoughto know whether you have bed bugs. They are just one piece of the puzzle.

Bed Bug Symptom #3: Shed/Cast Bed Bug Skins

As baby bed bugs (nymphs) move toward adulthood, they shed their skin a total of 5 times before reaching maturity – once at each new developmental stage. Cast skins look like lighter colored empty bed bug shells or casings – which is basically what they are. This picture of bed bug cast skins includes shed skins from multiple stages of the bed bug life cycle. The penny gives you a good sense of their actual size.

You are more likely to find these around harborages (bed bug hideouts) than out in the open like fecal and blood stains.

Bed Bug Symptom #4: Eggshells

Empty egg shells are certainly symptoms of a growing multi-generational bed bug population. They are very small – about 1 mm in length – but visible to the naked eye – a magnifying glass helps.

They look like dried out casings of live bed bug eggs (see close-up of bed bug eggs below) but are less shiny and may be somewhat flattened.

They will be found in the places where bed bugs hide, especially on rough surfaces like fabric or wood.

See their actual size in this video on the bedbug life cycle page.

While none of the above symptoms of bed bugs are proof of a currently active infestation, bed bugs don’t go away on their own. So treat them as definite clues to their presence – but don’t stop there. You need proof of LIVE bed bugs to confirm your infestation.

Never startany(DIY or professional) bed bug treatment without proof of LIVE bed bugs.You can read more about this in 8 things you should expect from your bed bug exterminator.

4 Signs of Active Bed Bug Infestation

Bed Bug Symptom #5: Bed Bug Eggs

Bed bug eggs are shiny translucent to pearly white in color and are found both in bed bug harborages and locations away from the main population (female bed bugs tend to lay some eggs “away from the crowd”). They have a sticky film when they are first laid to help them adhere to surfaces and this can give them a kind of shiny appearance. Bed bug eggs are approximately 1 mm long.

They are more often found on wood and fabric than on plastic or metal.

Bed Bug Symptom #6: Nymphs

Baby bed bugs, called nymphs, are smaller and lighter colored than adults. They can be almost clear until they are fed at which point they turn blood red.

Depending on the developmental stage, they range from the size of a pin-head or poppy seed size at birth to about ¼” as they reach maturity.

Nymphs are sometimes the first live bugs that will be found because they tend to feed more frequently than adults – as often as once a day. Learn more about baby bed bugs on the on the bed bug life cycle page.

Bed Bug Symptom #7: Adult Bed Bugs

Fully matured bed bugs are a rusty-brown color and very flat – until they’ve filled their bellies with blood. They are approximately ¼” in length – about the size and shape of a small apple seed.

As the feed they swell up (become engorged) and become more elongated and turn a dark purplish-red color.

In the early stages of an infestation, you are most likely to find them in around the seams, piping and tufts of your mattress and box spring or in cracks and crevices on the headboard and bed frame. See more pictures of bed bugs in furniture.

As time passes and the infestation grows, they tend to spread out from the immediate feeding area. Because they are so flat, they can hide in the most surprising places. Read about where bed bugs hide here.

More in depth information about what bed bugs look like in all stages of their life cycle can be found on the bed bug life cycle page.

Bed Bug Symptom #8: Distinctive Odor

Bed bugs have a sweet musty smell, which some people have said smells like coriander, almonds or nearly over-ripe raspberries. I think its kind of a pungent, sickeningly-sweet smell and would lean more toward the almost rotting raspberry description. The smell is more obvious in heavier infestations or where the bugs have become agitated. Smelling them is not a reliable way to confirm a bed bug infestation, but their distinctive scent does allow bed bug sniffing dogs to pinpoint their hiding places effectively when visual evidence is not easily found.

If You Think You Might Have Bed Bugs.

It’s time to get down to business and do your own inspection. It will take a little time and effort, but it’s not as hard as you might think.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Bed bugs are very skilled athiding. So failure to find signs of an active bed bug infestation is NOT proof that they aren’t there.

If you come up empty after following the bed bug inspection tutorial, consider using alternate methods of detecting bed bugs. I also really recommend calling in a qualified exterminator to do a professional inspection.

Knowing the symptoms of bed bug infestation is the key to diagnosing a suspected problem. Even if you’re just looking to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you when you travel, being able to identify the signs of a bed bug infestation is a skill you can’t afford to go without.

If you found something, but it’s not a bed bug, you can get help here.

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Bed Bug FAQs

Some fast bed bug facts…

A little more…

Anatomy:

A bed bug has 6 legs. Its antennae point forward and are about half as long as the body—not longer. Its head is broadly attached to its body and it has no wings. Eight legs indicate a tick or mite. Six legs and long antennae with two spikes coming off the back (cerci) might be a roach nymph. Carpet beetle larvae have hairs all over their bodies. Carpet beetle adults have two hard wings.

Color:

A “drop of blood with legs” is probably a recently fed bed bug. It will be red, plump, and oval. After it digests its meal, it’ll be mahogany-colored, round, and flat. Unfed nymphs are tan. Eggs are oval, white, and stick to whatever they’re laid on.

You can see the adults—they’re about 1/4” long. The trick is finding their hiding spots. They can wedge themselves into any crack or crevice. If the edge of a credit card can fit, so can a bed bug. Eggs and just-hatched nymphs are tiny: 1/16” (1mm) long—the size of the “R” in “LIBERTY” on a penny. They’ll plump up after feeding—just like a mosquito.

Behavior:

Bed bugs crawl—scurrying into dark, tight spaces to hide—they move as fast as an ant. They can’t jump or fly and you’ll never find them burrowing into your skin. If the insect you have came out on its own accord at night when the lights were out near the bed or a couch, it was probably a bed bug looking for a meal. Bed bugs aren’t social insects like ants, so they don’t need a colony. But while they group together in good hiding spots, loners could be hiding elsewhere.

More on bed bug biology (and yes, it matters): they have an odd way of making babies. It’s called traumatic insemination. Males simply stab females in the side with their reproductive organ and inject their sperm, which makes its way to her eggs. Females recover from one mating, but several matings increase the chance of infection and death. Females may try to get away from groups of males and go off and hide alone to avoid being stabbed to death. If you don’t find those females, they’ll keep laying eggs and could restart an infestation: a good reason to get a pest management professional (PMP) involved. Good PMPs know how to find them and how to target every hiding place without harming people.

If the bugs you think are bed bugs come in the spring but go away during the summer they might be bat bugs. Bats in attics hibernate elsewhere during the winter. Bat bugs that are left behind and chill out for the winter, literally, but if warm weather comes before the bats return, they may seek another host to tide them over. In this scenario, inspect the attic and external wall voids for bat guano and bugs in cracks and crevices. Have a professional treat these roosts as well as the rooms bed bugs were found in. To prevent bat re-entry, repair all holes 1/4” or larger that lead to the outside.

Bed bugs are also known as: Cimex lectularius, chinches de camas, chintzes or chinches, mahogany flats, red coats, crimson ramblers, wall lice, the bug that nobody knows, lentils on legs, animated blood drops.

To translate this page, see the link on the left below the list of pests.

Got a question that you think should be here? E-mail us and we’ll get it posted ASAP. If it’s urgent, try bedbugger.com.

If you ever heard that nursery rhyme "Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” you know these critters bite in the night. But most of us never heard of them in real life until now.

What Bed Bugs Are And What They Do

How to Find Bed Bugs

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

How to Deal With Bed Bugs

1. What can bed bugs do to me?

The serious negative effects of bed bugs are more mental than physical, but the itchy bites can’t be ignored either.

The mental effects are stress and lack of sleep. (And then there’s delusory parasitosis—meaning the bugs really are gone, but you can’t shake the feeling that they’re still there.) Even if the thought of sleeping with bed bugs doesn’t keep you up at night, the time and money it takes to get rid of them can stress you out.

Bed bugs can be a public relations nightmare. You’d hope customers would respect a proactive hotel, motel, or landlord who tried to educate them before a problem came in, but that’s rarely the case. Simply the mention of bed bugs can deter customers.

And householders worry what friends, family, and neighbors will say if their problem becomes known. Bed bugs aren’t associated with filth or social status, but many people think they are.

Bed bugs aren’t known to transmit disease. And some people don’t even get marks when bit. But scratching bites can lead to a secondary infection. Resist the urge to scratch. People with health problems and children are more at risk for infection because their immune systems are compromised or they can’t stop scratching.

2. What does a bed bug bite look like?

You can’t describe the bites as looking only one way. Some look and feel like mosquito or flea bites. Some people don’t react at all. On the opposite extreme, others get big itchy welts that take two or more weeks to heal. There’s a myth that bed bug bites occur in threes (“breakfast, lunch, and dinner”), but it’s not true. Bites can occur singly, in clumps, or in a line. Bites can show up within hours—or two weeks later. Confirming an infestation on bites alone is impossible. You need evidence: a bed bug.

Bed bugs usually feed while people sleep, about an hour before dawn. But if they’re hungry and given the opportunity, they feed anytime. Feeding itself is painless—the bed bug’s saliva numbs the skin and makes the blood easier to drink. But later, many people react to the saliva, getting itchy bumps or rashes. After feeding for about five minutes, drawing only a drop or two of blood, bugs return to their hiding places. Although bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding, they typically seek blood every five to ten days.

The only way to know for sure what bit you is to find a bug and get it identified.

Bed bugs live off only blood—like mosquitoes do. They probably prefer to feed on people. But if people move out, bed bugs can survive by feeding on rats or mice—so control these pests, too. They’re attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide—what we animals breathe out. They usually feed about an hour before dawn, but given the opportunity, they may feed at other times of day or night.

Remember—not everyone reacts to bed bug bites. (Not everyone reacts to poison ivy, either.) You could get an itchy rash while your home companion gets—nothing.

If you think bed bugs bit you, have a PMP do a thorough inspection to determine whether an arthropod is in your living space, or send samples to a diagnostic lab.

3. Where did bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs may have evolved when a close relative, the bat bug, switched to feeding off cave-dwelling humans. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans wrote about them. They were part of many peoples’ lives in the U.S. and around the world before World War II.

Then DDT came along. DDT seemed wonderful at the time. Unlike most of the insecticides sold in stores today, DDT had a lasting effect—a long residual effect. Insects died when they crawled where DDT was used, even if it had been there for weeks. Though most homeowners used DDT for large pests like cockroaches, it did the bed bugs in too. When the bed bugs came out to feed, there was something there to kill them.

Modern furnishings and appliances helped too. Bed bugs don’t care if a home is clean or messy. They just like good hiding spots—and food. When modern furniture came into style they had fewer hiding spots. Home appliances such as washing machines and vacuums helped keep them at bay. Bed bugs were a rarity in the US from the early 1950’s through the late 1990’s. A whole generation of people grew up who’d never seen one.

By the mid 1970’s insecticides like DDT, which were blamed for environmental problems, were on the outs. The pest control industry began to use the environmentally friendly approaches common today. Using noninsecticide traps and monitors, blocking entry into homes, and using pest-specific, least-toxic insecticides became the staples of an integrated pest management approach.

Bed bugs had been off the radar for so long they were almost forgotten. By the time anyone noticed, they were back in a big way. Right now there are no traps or monitors proven to detect a population when it’s still small. And since bed bugs travel on things such as luggage, souvenirs, and furniture we bring into our homes, it’s hard to block their entry.

Fortunately, some modern insecticides work well. Because these insecticides break down quickly—making them safer for humans—they may not be around to kill the bed bugs that hatch from eggs laid before the insecticide was applied. Two or more carefully targeted applications are the best way to eliminate bed bugs. Leave insecticides to the professionals—even the right ones, used incorrectly, can scatter bed bugs to other rooms. It would take an extremely capable and dedicated person to learn and do everything necessary to get rid of bed bugs on their own.

How to Find Bed Bugs

4. Where do bed bugs live?

Any place with a high turnover of people spending the night—hostels, hotels near airports, and resorts—are most at risk. But the list continues… apartments, barracks, buses, cabins, churches, community centers, cruise ships, dormitories, dressing rooms, health clubs, homes, hospitals, jets, laundromats, motels, motor homes, moving vans, nursing homes, office buildings, resorts, restaurants, schools, subways, theaters, trains, used furniture outlets…. Bed bugs don’t prefer locations based on sanitation or people’s hygiene. If there’s blood, they’re happy.

Bed bugs and their relatives occur nearly worldwide. They became relatively scarce during the latter part of the 20th century, but their populations have resurged in recent years, particularly throughout parts of North America, Europe, and Australia.

What about in your home? Most stay near where people sleep, hiding near the bed, a couch or armchair (if that’s where you snooze)—even cribs and playpens. Their flat bodies allow them to hide in cracks and crevices around the room and in furniture joints. Hiding sites include mattress seams, bed frames, nearby furniture, or baseboards. Clutter offers more places to hide and makes it harder to get rid of them. Bed bugs can be found alone but more often congregate in groups. They’re not social insects, though, and don’t build nests.

How infestations spread through a home or within an apartment building differs from case to case. Inspect all adjacent rooms. Bed bugs travel easily along pipes and wires and the insides of walls can harbor them.

Before treating, you need to confirm that you have bed bugs. The only way to do that is to find a bug and get it identified.

Look in the most likely places first. We tell you how. If you find one, freeze it for identification or put it in a sealed jar with a 1 tsp. of rubbing alcohol. Then stop looking—you don’t want to disrupt the bugs—and call a professional.

5. How do I find out if I have bed bugs?

Have these on hand during the inspection:

  • flashlight
  • magnifier or hand lens
  • a vial, pill bottle, or ziplock bag to hold specimens for identification
  • tweezers or sticky tape to help grab the bugs
  • gloves (vinyl, latex, etc.—or even a plastic bag over your hand)
  • knife, index card, or credit card for swiping bed bugs out of cracks
  • trash bags and tape for bagging infested items
  • vacuum cleaner (just in case you find a large group): keep a few for identification and suck up the rest. Since the vacuum bag will have live bugs in it, take out the bag right away. Seal it in a plastic bag and throw it away.

Look for bed bugs in all their life stages: eggs, nymphs and adults. Also look for cast skins and blood spots. But note: blood spots, hatched eggs, and cast skins may be from an infestation that’s been dealt with already. Live bed bugs are the only confirming evidence. Use a flashlight—even if the area is well lit—and work systematically. A magnifying glass will help you zoom in on hard to see spots. Start with one corner of the mattress and work around the piping, down the sides, and underneath. Do the same with the box spring. If you own the bed, slowly remove the dust cover (ticking) on the bottom of the box spring and seal in a trash bag. Next, inspect the bed frame. If you can take it apart, do so. Bed bugs could be hiding in the joints.

No bed bugs yet? Work out from the bed in a systematic way (clockwise or counter-clockwise) to the walls of the room. Look in the pleats of curtains, beneath loose pieces of wallpaper near the bed, the corners and drawers of desks and dressers, within spaces of wicker furniture, behind door, window, and baseboard trim, and in laundry or other items on the floor or around the room such as cardboard boxes. Inspect everything. Any crack, crevice, or joint a credit card edge could fit in could hide adult bed bugs. This routine gives you a systematic approach and increases the chance you’ll find evidence early on.

One last way to inspect—about an hour before dawn, lift the sheets and turn on a flashlight. It might lead to a discovery, but this method can also be unsettling.

If you don’t find bed bugs but bites continue or you find blood spots on bedding, contact a professional with bed bug experience and have them inspect.

Professional inspection may be done by a person or by a bed bug-sniffing dog and its handler. Dogs have a powerful sense of smell and can be trained to find bed bugs (which do give off an odor). They’re best used to find infestations. If used to tell whether bed bugs are gone, they may find old evidence rather than fresh. If you hire a handler and dog, be sure they’re accredited.

If you find bed bugs at home, it’s best to keep sleeping in the bed—or try to find someone who will sleep there. Packing up to spend time elsewhere could bring bugs to an uninfested area. And the bugs could move to neighboring rooms in search of a meal.

6. How do I have specimens identified?

Put specimens in small, break-resistant containers such as a plastic pill bottle or a zipper-lock bag with 1 tsp of rubbing alcohol in it. Or tape them to a sheet of white paper with clear tape.

First, look at pictures on university websites. If you think it’s a bed bug, package it carefully to prevent damage and send to an expert for positive identification. Bed bugs have close relatives: poultry bugs, barn swallow bugs, bat bugs, and tropical bed bugs— to name a few. They too can feed on humans and act like bed bugs do. For accurate identification, send a sample—preferably several adults—to a Cooperative Extension diagnostic lab.

If the critter is, for example, a bat bug, call a professional wildlife control operator to find and remove bats, then prevent their re-entry.

7. How did I get bed bugs in the first place?

Bed bugs come in as stowaways in luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and more when these are moved between dwellings. Moving out won’t solve the problem, since bed bugs will just come with you. In fact, while dealing with bed bugs it’s best not to sleep away from home. Used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses, are most likely to harbor bed bugs. Watch out for items found on the curb! Because they survive for many months without food, bed bugs could already be present in clean, vacant apartments.

In a few cases, bats or birds could introduce and maintain bed bugs and their close relatives—usually bat bugs and bird bugs.

The source of the infestation determines where your inspection should start. Look through these scenarios and see which fits:

  • Only one bedroom: inspect that room first.
  • People watch TV or snooze on a couch: check it after inspecting the bedroom.
  • A traveler returned home: insects can hide in luggage and then crawl out when it’s dark and peaceful—begin where luggage was placed upon returning home.
  • A used bed or piece of furniture (bought or from the curb) was brought into the house: inspect it first.
  • The problem began after a visitor stayed overnight: inspect the beds that they slept in and where their luggage was placed. Next, inspect the nearest place where people sleep.
  • An infestation persists after several treatments by a professional: bed bugs may come through the wall from a neighboring apartment. Inspect rooms that share a wall with a neighbor. (This scenario happens in large apartment complexes and hotels where management didn’t get adjacent rooms treated.)
  • If the building has a laundry room, inspect it too.
  • Home health aides come in frequently: bed bugs may have hitched a ride on their bags.
  • Backpacks go to and from school: could have bed bugs. Inspect the bed or couch nearest the spot where backpacks are kept.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

8. Can I prevent bed bugs with insecticides?

Insecticidal dusts will remain effective if not covered by other dust. As part of the IPM approach, routine spraying of insecticides is strongly discouraged. Bed bugs do not spread disease, but insecticides do pose risks. Only use them when the pest insect is confirmed and the least-toxic steps have been tried. As a preventative measure alternative to insecticides, inspect and clean regularly, keeping bed bug-hiding spots in mind.

9. How can I avoid bed bugs when traveling?

Every traveler should learn about bed bugs. Always inspect before settling into any room. Pack a flashlight (even the keychain LED variety) and gloves to aid in your inspection. The inspection should focus around the bed. Start with the headboard, which is usually held on the wall with brackets—lift up 1 – 2 inches, then lean the top away from the wall to gain access to the back. If you’re traveling alone, someone on staff should help. After checking the headboard, check sheets and pillows for blood spots. Next, pull back the sheets. Check the piping of the mattress and box spring. Finally, look in and under the drawer of the bedside table. If all these places are clear, enjoy the night. The next morning, look for blood spots on the sheets—bed bugs poop soon after they feed.

If you find evidence, but no live bed bugs, the evidence may be old and doesn’t mean that the hotel is dirty. Tell the front desk discreetly what you found and ask for another room—one that doesn’t share a wall with the room you just vacated. Bed bugs are a PR nightmare for the hospitality industry. If you run to a competitor (who’s just as likely to have bed bugs) it makes it less likely that the industry will become more open about this issue. Communication is key. Ideally hotels and motels would pride themselves on their bed bug programs and show customers how to inspect to keep all parties bed bug free.

If you can avoid it, don’t unpack into drawers and keep luggage closed on a luggage rack pulled away from the wall. Never set luggage on the bed.

Download and print a copy of NYS IPM’s travelers’ cards.

10. What can I do if I just got back from a place where there might have been bed bugs?

Launder your clothes before or as soon as these items are brought back into the home. If you found bed bugs after moving into a hotel room, you could ask the hotel to pay for laundering—and for steam-cleaning your luggage. The hotel may refuse, but it’s worth asking. Regardless, once home you should unpack on a floor that will allow you to see bed bugs—stay off carpets! Unpack directly into plastic bags for taking clothes to the laundry. Suitcases should be carefully inspected and vacuumed—freeze if possible.

11. Will bed bugs actually travel on me?

It’s unlikely that a bed bug would travel on you or the clothes you are wearing. You move too much to be a good hiding place. Bed bugs are more likely to be spread via luggage, backpacks, briefcases, mattresses, and used furniture.

12. What should everyone know about bed bugs

YOU CAN STOP THEIR SPREAD

Adults are ¼”, reddish-brown and flat. You can see them without magnification.

They like to hide in cracks and crevices.

Inspect sleeping areas—if you find a bed bug, STOP looking and contact a professional.

Do-it-yourself pest control could make bed bugs to spread. Launder and freeze when possible.

Live bugs or eggs may drop off while moving things from one place to another—items with bed bugs should be sealed in a bag before moving them.

Avoid used furniture and items left on the curb—they might have bed bugs!

Tell your friends! Not warning others robs them of the chance to avoid bringing bed bugs into their homes and businesses.

How to Deal With Bed Bugs

13. I have bed bugs. What do I do?

Step back a minute. Because several different kinds of insects resemble bed bugs, specimens should be carefully compared with good reference images and sent to a professional entomologist.

Next: make a plan. We’ll tell you how. You want to get rid of bed bugs, limit your exposure to insecticides, and minimize costs. Don’t get rid of stuff and don’t treat unless you have a plan. A big part of your plan: hire an experienced professional. Trust us, it’ll save you time and money in the long run. You’ll still have a lot to do—just leave the insecticides to the pros. Working as a team with a professional is the quickest way to get bed bugs out of your life.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the way to go for pest control. It’s cost-effective, it works, and it lessens reliance on insecticides. Note: IPM doesn’t mean no insecticides. You should call a professional dedicated to IPM so the least amount of insecticides can be used and still work.

Here are the basics of bed bug IPM:

Inspection: ALWAYS inspect. Proper identification helps you know what to do and where to target your efforts. Along with looking, you should write down what you do and see. Use this reporting form to track what you’ve done. Having a history will help if more people become involved.

Educate yourself: find out about bed bug biology and behavior to become even more effective.

Cultural and Mechanical Control: This makes your home unwelcoming to bed bugs, blocks them from feeding, or at least makes finding them easier. Don’t skip these steps and go straight to insecticides. Examples:

  • Choose furniture of plain design. A metal chair offers fewer places for a bed bug to hide than a wicker one.
  • Don’t buy or pick up used furniture.
  • Choose light-colored bedding—easier to see insects and blood spots.
  • Don’t store things under beds. In fact, get rid of clutter anywhere near the bed.
  • Use tightly fitting, zippered, bed-bug proof mattress and box spring encasements. Putting them in place ahead of time (proactively) makes bed bugs easier to see since encasements have no piping or tags and they’re light-colored. Putting them on during an infestation means no need to throw away the mattress and box spring. But … check periodically to be sure they haven’t torn.
  • Vacuum regularly. Use an attachment to get in cracks and crevices.
  • Maintain a gap between the walls and your bedroom and living room furniture.
  • Seal cracks in wooden floors.
  • Repair peeling wallpaper.
  • Keep bedding and dust ruffles from touching the floor. Better yet, remove the ruffles.
  • When returning from a trip, unpack on a light-colored, bare-wood or vinyl floor keeping an eye out for bed bugs. Put everything that traveled in a warm dryer for an hour or a hot dryer for 60 minutes. Put things that can’t be heated in a freezer for two weeks. Everything else … inspect carefully!
  • When you travel, inspect rooms, keep luggage closed and use luggage racks away from the wall—don’t leave things on the bed! Take along a traveler’s card to guide your inspection.
  • See non-insecticidal control for more ideas.

Biological Control:No known biological control agents target bed bugs well enough to keep them at bay.

Chemical Control:Insecticides supplement but don’t replace your work. Get a pest management professional (PMP) involved. Licensed PMPs know what products, in what formulations, should be used—and where. PMPs know how to be selective and effective—fewer insecticides used and best results. Any insecticide used should be labeled for the pest and location where it is being used. Many products are not labeled for mattresses.

Hire only professional pest control companies with licensed PMPs who are affiliated with a state or national association. This helps ensure that the company stays up-to-date on the current practices and only uses legal insecticides. PMPs are trained for sensitive situations: people who are ill, children, pregnant women, pets, and more. They know how to properly apply insecticides. They also know best how to find bed bugs. PMPs will not use illegal insecticides. If you use insecticides but they don’t work and then you still have to call in a professional, overall insecticide use will be higher. Plus, what you used could drive bed bugs into new areas—making removal a longer and pricier process.

Monitoring:This involves inspecting regularly to be sure:

  • Control is working.
  • Bed bugs haven’t been brought back in.
  • Encasements haven’t torn.
  • There isn’t any way you could improve your cultural or mechanical control.
  • Use the reporting form every time you inspect.

14. What are the legal repercussions of bed bugs?

The question, “Who’s responsible for a bed bug infestation?” has no clear answer. It’s hard even to identify who’s technically at fault because bed bugs can enter a space in so many ways. Landlords and property owners do have legal obligations to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. Bed bugs may be an unacceptable condition. Tenants have an obligation to cooperate with owners and landlords. This includes preparing the apartment so the pest management professional can easily inspect rooms and treat if necessary.

You are legally liable if you misapply an insecticide or apply it without a license to the property of others—including common spaces in apartment buildings. In most cases, landlords, owners and building managers cannot legally apply insecticides unless they are licensed to do so.

Laws are changing and every situation is different. Local health departments and law offices have the best answers to legal questions. The only thing that’s for sure is that bed bug problems won’t just work themselves out. Left untreated, they will spread. The best way to cover all bases is to inform all who are potentially involved early on—managers, neighbors, friends…

And take steps to solve the problem:

  • Call the local health department to find out what regulations apply.
  • Call a professional pest control company.
  • Document everything.

Landlords and tenants should make sure bed bug work is specified in their lease. For example, an agreement that requires tenants to do thorough preparation for bed bug treatment and to leave the living space while a pest management professional (PMP) works can go a long way if bed bugs arrive. The PMP should visit all rooms or units that share a wall (including directly above and below). Everyone needs to cooperate. Having a plan ready can save time, frustration, and money.

If you are a landlord, inspection should be done often with the permission of the tenant. Some tenants will not view bed bugs as a problem. It can get ugly if their infestation spreads to other units and unhappy tenants report that they have bed bugs. Inspect often to find infestations before they spread.

Safety is always the #1 priority. Bed bugs aren’t known to spread disease. Don’t put yourself or PMPs in danger on account of bed bugs. Anyone who inspects apartments must be cautious of sharp objects or weapons under mattresses or in furniture. Always look with a flashlight before touching.

Document ALL prevention and control in a unit. This helps prove you took precautions and helps PMPs evaluate the situation.

15. What shouldn’t I do when trying to eliminate bed bugs?

Don’t panic. Although bed bugs can be annoying, you can get rid of them if you adopt a well-considered strategy.

Don’t put the legs of the bed frame in kerosene or coat them with petroleum jelly. Bed bugs have been known to climb on the ceiling and drop down onto the bed. Plus kerosene is a fire hazard.

Don’t depend on thyme oil. Thyme oil may discourage bed bugs, but it won’t kill them. Chances are it’ll spread, not fix, the problem.

Don’t leave the home unoccupied through a winter as a control measure. Bed bugs have adapted to the unpredictable habits of humans. If given time to go dormant—for example, in a vacation cabin that slowly gets cooler, then cold over fall and winter—bed bugs can survive, living without a meal for many months while waiting for humans to return. The quick penetration of killing cold (or heat) is the key to any temperature treatment.

Don’t turn up the heat. Exposing bed bugs to 120 ºF or more an hour will kill all life stages—and whole-structure or “container heat treatments” do work. But the caution is similar to using cold. High heat must be maintained at every point in the building: the outer walls, deep in the sofa, etc. for the full hour. Professionals enclose the structure, using tools to guarantee that it reaches the right temperature. If you go with a full-structure heat treatment, consider if the heat could damage furniture, appliances, and belongings.

Don’t sleep with a light on. Bed bugs feed when hosts are inactive. Usually that’s when it’s dark—but they’ll feed under lights if they’re hungry.

Don’t sleep in a different room. Bed bugs will move to a neighboring room if they can’t find food. And they can live months between meals. Sleeping in a different room, staying at a hotel, or moving in with friends won’t solve the problem. And the chances of carrying the bugs to a new place are good. Keep sleeping in your bed. If you have awful reactions to the bites, try to get someone to sleep in the bed.

Don’t throw a bed bug-infested mattress away and buy a new mattress. Buying a new mattress won’t solve the problem. Bed bugs hide in more than just mattresses. New mattresses might be transported in the same trucks that pick up used and possibly contaminated ones. If you need a new mattress, wait until the infestation is eliminated before buying a new one. (Remember: A bed bug-proof mattress and box-spring encasement kept in place for 1 ½ years will starve them to death. Inspect often for torn spots in the encasement (and evidence of bed bugs).

Don’t dispose of good furniture. Infested furniture can be cleaned and treated. Placing infested furniture (particularly mattresses) into common areas or on the street could spread bed bugs to other peoples’ homes. If you’re getting rid of infested furniture, deface it: make it less attractive to other people. Paint a picture of a bug on it and write “bed bugs” or “chinches.” Building managers should make sure disposed furniture is in a dumpster or taken to a landfill or waste facility right away.

Don’t wrap items in black plastic and leave them in the sun: it needs to get hotter than that to kill bed bugs, and heat needs to evenly penetrate the entire item.

Don’t move infested items out of the room without wrapping them in plastic. Bed bugs or eggs could be knocked off into an uninfested area.

Don’t apply insecticides unless you fully understand what you are applying and the risks involved. You are legally liable if you misapply an insecticide or apply it without a license to the property of others—including common spaces in apartment buildings. In most cases, landlords, owners and building managers cannot legally apply insecticides unless they are licensed to do so.

16. What do I do with my pets if I have bed bugs?

Pest management professionals (PMPs) have seen bed bugs feeding on pets, but no one knows if they prefer pets. The bugs might get caught in a pet’s hair, but they won’t live on pets the way fleas do. Still, a pet could carry a bed bug from one room to another.

Since bed bugs rarely feed for more than 10 minutes and their feet don’t grip onto hair, Twenty minutes of grooming outside lets you rest at ease. All bedding and cage items should be inspected and washed and dried (60 minutes on hot) or frozen (for 2 weeks). Inspect furniture, floors, and walls near the pets’ areas.

17. How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?

It will take at least three weeks to be rid of bed bugs. Here’s why:

  • Preparation usually takes about a week
  • Two weeks in a freezer kills the crawling bed bugs
  • Insecticides don’t kill the eggs, which take about two weeks to hatch—the pest management professional (PMP) should reinspect and apply more insecticides if needed two full weeks after the first treatment.
  • The fastest IPM fix relies on the team effort of a PMP and the owner. The owner must do the necessary preparation and do the cultural and mechanical control work while the PMP handles the insecticides.
  • Fumigation and full-structure heat treatments work after one treatment, but are very costly. Fumigation is not the same thing as fogging.

18. What should a pest control company do for me—and vice versa?

Customer Preparation

Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) should be knowledgeable about bed bugs, educating you so you understand why time-consuming and thorough preparation is so important. If the company doesn’t require you to do prep work, call the next company on your list.

PMPs may ask you to launder all clothing, bedding, and draperies; buy resealable bags for all possessions in drawers, closets, etc.; clean rooms thoroughly; and vacate rooms on all treatment days. One thing that differs by pest control company is whether callers should do anything to the bed ahead of time. There’s no right way. Still, the company should be able to explain the why behind their methods.

The time and money it takes to battle bed bugs will be easier to grasp if you understand:

Clutter makes it harder for PMPs to find and treat all likely hiding spots of loner females that could restart an infestation.

Bed bugs aren’t found just in beds. Any space a credit card edge could slide in is a possible hiding spot. PMPs need to treat baseboards, picture frames, bed frames, dressers, drawers, and tables. Because preparation will disturb the bugs, you should choose a pest control company and learn their operating procedure before doing much to the room.

Remember: Insecticides don’t penetrate the eggs, which take up to two weeks to hatch. The follow-up treatment is usually scheduled two or three weeks after the first treatment to get those newly hatched nymphs. You want to get them before they become adults and lay more eggs. Prepare the same as for the first treatment. You can save time and money by unpacking only a few essentials until the follow-up is done.

Bed bug jobs take time and expertise. The service is justifiably costly. Prices vary by region and the type of contract. Call around to get an idea of prices in your region. $500 or more for the first visit and treatment and $250 for the follow-up aren’t unreasonable. It might even be cheap for an area. If you shop around and find a company that offers service at a much lower price, chances are they’re less thorough.

Treatment

Technicians who inspect and treat should be able to answer questions about bed bug biology and behavior as well as explain their plans. Even if someone has already come to inspect and quote the job (some companies will quote over the phone, others inspect first and quote at that visit), technicians should always inspect before treating. At the very least, they should use a flashlight when inspecting. Proper inspection takes time and shouldn’t be rushed.

And what’s their plan for treatment? If it’s to treat least-infested areas first, working toward most-infested areas, the plan is good. PMPs should use a range of formulations and methods, both liquids and dusts. The PMP should target cracks, crevices, and behind electrical sockets. Not every company uses a vacuum or steamer—that might be your job. Vacuuming just before the PMP arrives will get dirt out of cracks so the insecticide can get in. The PMP must take care not to spread the problem. Anything that needs to be removed from the treatment area should be covered with plastic. Once an area has been treated, only treated items should be moved back in.

If people or pets are present, they should be in a different room. Don’t enter a room that has been treated with an insecticide for at least 4 hours—or whatever the insecticide label states, whichever is longer. Children’s and sick people’s mattresses shouldn’t be treated.

Follow-Up Treatments

Count on at least one follow up treatment. Bed bugs should be gone after 2 – 3 visits. Unless the structure is fumigated (this is different from bombing!), one visit won’t get rid of bed bugs. Follow up treatments should still include a full inspection, followed by insecticide if bed bugs are found.

Because complete elimination is hard to achieve for any pest, most bed bug contracts don’t guarantee it. Bed bugs can be reintroduced. Companies with a good business sense can’t guarantee bed bug work for a long period of time. This doesn’t mean the company won’t go to great lengths to help you. And yes, it is possible to eliminate bed bugs from a home.

19. How do I kill bed bugs without insecticides?

Cleaning: Thoroughly clean infested rooms as well as others in the residence. Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs and use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices. This won’t ensure that you’ve got all the eggs since they can be cemented deep in cracks. But it will help. Dismantle bed frames to expose additional hiding sites. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots.

Vacuuming: A vacuum is not a stand-alone solution. But it will suck up some bed bugs and, used frequently, help keep their numbers down. The narrowest attachment should be used along seams, cracks, and crevices. There’s no guarantee it’ll suck all bed bugs out of hiding. Immediately after, the bag or canister should be removed. Bed bugs in that bag will still be alive! Put the bag or canister contents into a plastic bag, freeze for two weeks, then dispose of properly. Wash the canister—be sure it’s unplugged! Inspect the vacuum to be sure no bugs remain inside.

Steam: Research is underway on how well steamers work. A good steamer will kill eggs, nymphs, and adults on contact. But we’re not sure how deeply killing heat penetrates wood and fabrics. And it offers no defense against reintroducing bed bugs. When using a steamer, move extremely slowly (1 foot in 15 seconds) and methodically. Don’t use a small nozzle that blows bed bugs away from the treatment area—they will survive. The heat needed to kill bed bugs will burn skin. Manufacturer’s instructions take priority over anything that anyone tells you. Afterward, let things dry completely. This prevents moisture or mold damage. Steam can carry electricity. Stay away from switch plates, electrical outlets, and plugged in appliances.

Heat: Extreme heat will kill bed bugs. 60 minutes on the hottest setting in a dryer kills eggs and insects. If taking belongings to a laundromat sort at home and put loads in a bag—dispose of the bag once empty. Don’t use the same bag to bring clothes back. Dry cleaning kills bed bugs, but tell them that the item might be contaminated. If the clothes won’t be damaged by heat and stains won’t set, put them in a dryer before going to the dry cleaner. Blankets, pillows, some shoes, children’s plush toys, curtains, rugs, seat cushions, and fabric bags—if the item can survive heat and tumbling and it won’t damage the dryer, it can go in a dryer. Check the lint filter for bed bugs afterwards. It’s another way to confirm their presence.

Freezing: More research is needed on how well freezing works. Quickly expose items to 32 ºF or below and leave them there for at least two weeks. All crawling life stages will die. To kill the eggs, 30 days is needed.

Mattress Encasements: Mattresses and box springs can be permanently encased within bed bug proof zippered mattress encasements. They must stay on for a full year and a half. Inspect them often to be sure they don’t have rips. If you find holes or tears, seal these completely with permanent tape or buy a new bag. Any bugs trapped within these sealed bags will eventually die.

20. How do I kill bed bugs with insecticides?

Unless you have a pesticide applicator’s license, you shouldn’t apply insecticides to treat bed bugs. Why? If you try to get rid of the bed bugs on your own and it doesn’t work, then you call a pest control company and … Even more insecticides get used.

The bed bugs will be in new hiding spots, making it harder for pest management professionals (PMPs) to target them.

If, despite our warning, you try over-the-counter products, READ THE LABEL of any product you use. If it isn’t labeled for indoor use, don’t use it. If it isn’t labeled for use on a mattress, don’t use it on a mattress. Keep records of everything you do—the date, location, and insecticide or tool used.

You have the right to know what’s being applied in your home and at what concentration. The EPA registration number (EPA Reg. No.) is on the label. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available online for the active ingredient for all products. (Your pest control company might have them too). If you’re worried about children, the elderly, pregnancy, ill people, or pets, a doctor or veterinarian can use the EPA Reg. No. and MSDS to tell them what precautions to take. If the label doesn’t have an EPA Reg. No., don’t buy it! For more info on pesticides, call the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 800-858-7378, or go online at npic.orst.edu. Ask your pest control company about their standard operating procedures for sensitive cases. Generally, it is best to leave your things in your home or apartment when it’s treated. All food, plates, silverware, etc. should be protected from insecticides.

Insecticides used to treat bed bug infestations consist mainly of:

  • Insecticidal dusts, such as finely ground silica powder, which abrade an insect’s waxy coat and cause it to dry out and die quickly. Some dusts are mixed with other dry insecticides. These dusts are applied in or behind permanent fixtures—walls, light switches, and the like. Piles of dust won’t work. If you can see the dust, it’s not being used right. Read the label!
  • Contact insecticides kill the bugs shortly after they come into direct contact with the product or its residue. These products tend to knock down bugs that wander over or otherwise contact the insecticide. BUT some repel bed bugs. Use the wrong product, and bed bugs could survive the pesticide and spread to other rooms.
  • Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) affect the development and reproduction of insects. Although they can work well, they don’t kill bugs quickly. PMPs often use these products to supplement other insecticides.

21. How do I kill bed bug eggs?

Eggs keep unborn bed bugs safe from insecticides. Sixty minutes in a hot dryer heat will kill bed bug eggs, and freezing (below 32°F) for 30 days will too. Fumigation (not the same as foggers or “bombs”) also kills eggs. Steam is another option as long as the nozzle is moved slowly and the steamed item is given time to dry. Bed bug eggs hatch in about two weeks. A follow up inspection after two weeks is necessary to confirm that they’re gone.

What do Bed Bug Droppings Look Like?

While bed bugs may seem like an invisible threat, they do leave behind signs of their presence, mainly in the form of their droppings. Learn more.

Bed bugs can sometimes seem like an invisible threat. They hide all day, emerge briefly to feed on their host in the dead of night and then disappear again. Their bites can be difficult to identify, and depending on your sensitivity to them, they may not show up on your skin at all.

However, bed bugs do leave behind signs of their presence in the form of droppings. Being able to identify these is a step in the right direction to recognizing a bed bug infestation.

After bed bugs feed, they’ll leave behind droppings of your partially digested blood. These droppings could indicate that you have been bitten in your sleep, though by no means offer definitive proof. Bed bug poop appears as clusters of tiny spots on your bed. The droppings consist of digested blood, so they will no longer be red once they dry. The spots will be darker, rust colored or black, and are about the size of a dot from a marker.

If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, check for bed bug droppings around the corners and edges of your bed. This includes under the sheets and in the creases of the mattress. Bed bug droppings are not exclusive to just the bed, however. In a heavily infested room, they can show up on the carpet, behind the headboard, along the edges of the wall and anywhere else bed bugs are known to hide. If you suspect an infestation, be sure to check all these places thoroughly for stains.

Identifying these droppings can also keep you from inadvertently bringing bed bugs into your home. Any time you buy something second-hand, whether it’s furniture or clothing, check the item carefully for telltale stains of bed bug droppings. Bed bugs can travel on these items, allowing them to infiltrate your home. If you find any sign of their presence, do not bring the item inside.

Though identifying these stains is a good indication you may have a bed bug infestation, it’s not definitive proof. Seeing an actual living bed bug is the only way to be certain, and that can be more difficult. This is where a professional can assist in inspecting your home and identifying whether bed bugs are present.

Call Terminix® today to get the help you need in diagnosing a bed bug problem and taking the steps needed to rid your home of these pests.

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What are Earwigs?

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ARE TICKS DANGEROUS?

The majority of ticks will deliver painless bites without any noticeable symptoms. However, some ticks can carry a variety of bacteria and pathogens for disease. Although not all ticks are dangerous, you don’t want to risk coming into contact with these blood-sucking insects.

Are Bed Bugs Contagious?

Bed bugs are not too picky about where and when they catch a ride and don’t necessarily have a preferred mode of transportation, so it’s no surprise how many people wonder, are bed bugs contagious?

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If you shudder a little when you think about earwigs, you’re probably not alone. They’ve developed quite a nasty reputation, thanks to urban legends (mostly false) that have been circulating for years. But are they harmful?

Cluster Flies In Your Home

If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve dealt with annoying flies ruining your summer barbecues and outdoor dinner parties. You may have even become accustomed to whipping out the flypaper and heavy-duty bug zappers the minute you hear the familiar buzz of a fly. These annoying pests are likely house flies, which can pose significant health risks to you and your family. But have you ever seen large, sluggish flies loitering inside your home in the autumn and winter? They may be cluster flies.

Tips to Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your House

Now that it’s fall, it’s officially indoor stink bug season. Before it becomes winter, brown marmorated stink bugs are looking for comfortable overwintering sites to spend the cold months—and that can often mean that they may find a way to sneak into your house. While the odor that a stink bug releases is not dangerous, they are definitely a nuisance. Luckily, there are steps you can take to get rid of stink bugs in your house—without having to deal with the unpleasant smell.

What are Sand Fleas?

Many people love going to the beach to spend time in the sun, sand, and water. But they might not love some of the nuisances that live at the beach or in the ocean, such as gnats or jellyfish. But, what about the sand flea, a small critter that can be found in moist areas such as under rocks or debris. Keep reading to learn exactly what sand fleas are and if you need to worry about them.

The Lifespans of Insects With Short Lives

Many insects, such as butterflies, have a lifespan that occurs in four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Other insects, such as grasshoppers, do not have a pupal stage and instead go through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The length of each stage can vary based on many things, from the insect species to the temperature outside—but what some insects share in common is a very short adult stage. Keep reading to learn about five insects with some of the shortest adult stages in their lifespan.

The Return of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The change of seasons from summer to fall means many things: leaves changing colors, dropping temperatures, and—depending on where you live—stink bugs sneaking into your home. Stink bugs were named for their distinct ability to emit an unpleasant odor when they are threatened or disturbed by predators like lizards or birds. This also means that if stink bugs enter your home and feel threatened, you’ll be faced with dealing with their strong smell in your house. As we head into fall, you might find yourself with more active stink bugs than usual, so it’s important to know the basics about these smelly insects.

What does Bed Bug Poop Look Like?

Bed Bug Poop

Bed bug poop or bed bug droppings is a telltale sign of bed bug activity. They can often be the first indication of an infestation.

Bed bugs feed on blood, preferably human blood as it tends to provide the best nutrition. Bed bugs have the capacity of both feeding on blood even as they deposit thick, dark droppings of digested blood on bedding. While bed bug droppings have been noted to be the color of tar, the standard color is somewhere between dark red and black, which can darken as it ages. The blood droppings usually appear as smears wherever they land—be it bedding, furniture, or the floor, and can also appear as bumps on hard surfaces. If undisturbed, however, the bed bug poop can appear as dark, small dots.

Bed bug droppings are also usually found where the bed bugs hide. These places can be near computer, phone, or electrical outlets, wall switches, baseboards, or furniture. Clothing, towels, and draperies can also bear marks of bed bugs. Bed bug poop can be seen in mattress seams and in the cracks of box springs as well.

It’s important to follow certain steps to eliminate bed bugs. Bedding and clothing can be washed in very hot water. They should then be sealed in bags to avoid being re-infested. Any areas where bed bugs may have been should be vacuumed. This includes the mattress, box springs, carpet, and even walls surrounding the bed. Anything that cannot be washed, especially the mattress and carpet, should be steam-cleaned. Bed bug powders and sprays can be used to further eliminate the bugs. Once steamed and strayed, the mattress should be covered with a strong mattress cover. This will ensure that it stays bed bug free and will cut off the bugs’ food supply; the human host. As always, hiring a professional can be a good option and may even be more effective in the long run.

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