Bed bugs bite you and feed on your blood. You may have no reaction to the bites, or you may have small marks or itching. Severe allergic reactions are rare. Bed bugs don't transmit or spread diseases.
Adult bed bugs are brown, 1/4 to 3/8 inch long, and have a flat, oval-shaped body. Young bed bugs (called nymphs) are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs hide in a variety of places around the bed. They might also hide in the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains. They come out to feed about every five to ten days. But they can survive over a year without feeding.
To prevent bed bugs in your home:
- Check secondhand furniture for any signs of bed bugs before bringing it home
- Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs. Check it regularly for holes.
- Reduce clutter in your home so they have fewer places to hide
- Unpack directly into your washing machine after a trip and check your luggage carefully. When staying in hotels, put your suitcases on luggage racks instead of the floor. Check the mattress and headboard for signs of bed bugs.
To get rid of bed bugs:
- Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures
- Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations
- Use pesticides if needed
Environmental Protection Agency
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Biting Insects: Bed Bugs (University of Minnesota Extension)
- How to Find Bed Bugs (Environmental Protection Agency) Also in Spanish
- Protecting Your Home from Bed Bugs (Environmental Protection Agency) Also in Spanish
- Top Ten Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs (Environmental Protection Agency) Also in Spanish
- Find a Bed Bug Pesticide Product (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Protecting Yourself from Bed Bugs in Public Places (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Bedbug Bite (VisualDX)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Population genetic structure of tropical bed bug (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) populations and...
- Article: Survey of bed bug infestations in homeless shelters in southern France.
- Article: Perception, attitudes, and knowledge on infestation and management of bed bugs...
- Bed Bugs -- see more articles