Bed Bugs FAQs
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
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Q:What are bed bugs?
A:Bed bugs are small winged insects that belong to the family Cimicidae. The insect family Cimicidae includes three species that bite people.
Q:How big are adult bed bugs?
A:Adult bed bugs can grow as large as 5-7 mm in length. Nymphs (juveniles) are as small as 1.5 mm.
Q:What color are adult bed bugs?
A:Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color. They appear more reddish after feeding on a blood meal.
Q:What color are bed bug nymphs?
A:Bed bug nymphs are clear. After feeding, Nymphs appear bright red
Q:Bed bugs can fly. True or False?
A:False. The wings of bed bugs are vestigial, so they cannot fly.
Q:Which factors may have led to a recent increase in bed bug infestations?
A:Restrictions on the use of stronger pesticides and increases in immigration and travel from the developing world may have led to a recent increase in bed bug infestations. Bed bugs were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S.
Q:Bed bugs need a blood meal at least once a week. True or False?
A:False. Bed bugs can live for months without feeding.
Q:Where are bed bugs commonly found?
A:Bed bugs are commonly found in mattresses, box springs, and furniture crevices. Bed bugs tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. Other sites where bed bugs often reside include curtains, the corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.
Q:What are symptoms and signs of bed bug bites?
A:Symptoms and signs of bed bug bites are raised bumps on the skin. The bed bug bite itself is painless and is not noticed. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign; redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur.
Q:What is the treatment for bed bug bites?
A:Typically, no treatment is required for bed bug bites. If itching is severe, steroid creams or oral antihistamines may be used for symptom relief. Secondary bacterial infections that develop over heavily scratched areas may require the use of antibiotics.
Q:How can people detect a bed bug infestation?
A:A bed bug infestation is usually detected by viewing fecal stains of bed bugs on the bed sheets and egg cases in crevices on or near the bed. You can look to see if you can identify the bed bugs' fecal stains, egg cases, and exuviae (shed skins) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture, in bed springs and under mattresses, and even in articles of clothing.
Q:How can people get rid of bed bugs in their home?
A:Bed bug infestations can be abated by scrubbing infested surfaces with a stiff brush to remove eggs. The pest-control expert may recommend certain forms of deep-cleaning such as dismantling and cleaning bed frames and furniture, filling cracks in floors, walls, and moldings, encasing mattresses within special bags, or using a powerful vacuum on cracks and crevices.
Q:What is the best way for people to prevent bed bug bites in hotels?
A:The best way for people to prevent bed bug bites in hotels is to search beds and mattresses for signs of a bed bug infestation. Those concerned about the potential for bed bugs bites in hotels should conduct a thorough examination of hotel beds.
Q:Bed bugs may infest many units in an apartment building. True or False?
A:Bed bugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also be present in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home.
Q:To the naked eye, bed bugs and ticks appear the same. True or False?
A:Bed bugs. Bed bugs are small, oval, wingless insects of the family Cimicidae, which have a flat, reddish-brown body and feed on human and animal blood.
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