Bed Bug Identification & Prevention

A small, oval insect that feeds on humans in the night.

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Bed bugs originated in the Middle East and were transported around the world by human beings. Initially discovered in North America in 1748, bed bugs were virtually eliminated in the U.S. during the 1940s through DDT. However, due to increases in international travel and pesticide regulations, they have become more common in recent years. Even though bed bugs are associated with over 25 different disease organisms, they are not known to transmit diseases to humans. However, their bites may result in itchy, red welts often found in lines or clusters on the body.

Biology And Behavior

two bed bugs on a mattress
  • These bugs are 3/16 of an inch long, oval and flattened, and can survive 6-7 months without feeding.
  • Females deposit 1 to 5 eggs per day over two months, an average of 200 eggs per female.
  • Life cycle: egg to adult in 21 days at 86°F; egg-laying is suppressed below 60° F.
  • Bed bugs have a simple metamorphosis (egg-nymph-adult) with five nymph instars.
  • These bugs are nocturnal, feeding after dark. They only feed on blood (primarily human).
  • They cause an allergic reaction 80% of the time.
  • They typically live within the cracks and crevices in or around bedding and furniture.
  • Large infestations emit a sickly-sweet, raspberry-like odor.
  • They deposit fecal pellets (spots) here and there on surfaces (e.g., corners of furniture).
  • Introduced into new areas via bed bug-infested humans, belongings, and furniture.

Bed Bug Prevention Tips

  • Look for these bugs in and around mattress buttons and beading, box springs, and crevices of wooden bed frames.
  • They can be found behind picture frames and within nightstands, under baseboards and floorboard cracks, and around door and window frames.
  • They will live inside stuffed furniture such as sofas and recliners and behind loose wallpaper, inside electric sockets, and along electrical conduits.
  • Bed bugs have been found in buses, boats, trains, and airplanes.
  • They can also be seen along ceiling and wall junctures as well as behind curtains.

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For more information about bed bugs, please visit our Bed Bug Resource Center.

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