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The 411 on Bed Bugs

| Read time: 3 min

Although only the size of an apple seed when full-grown, the mere mention of bed bugs is enough to send most people’s skin crawling! Being aware of the signs of bed bugs and how to prevent or get rid of them can help alleviate some stress.


The Bed Bugs Life Cycle & Habits

  • Bed bugs have 3 life stages:
    • Eggs – They can stick to different surfaces and hatch within 6-17 days).
    • Nymphs – Upon hatching, nymphs begin feeding right away. Nymphs need blood to grow into adults.
    • Adults – Full-grown bugs are about the size of an apple seed and are usually brown, but become bright or dark red after feeding. They cannot jump or fly and usually stay close to where people sleep.
  • Adult bed bugs can live for longer than a year if conditions are right and they have human/animal hosts to feed on regularly. Bed bugs typically feed on human blood which they use to grow into adults and produce eggs.
  • The presence of bed bugs does not mean a condo or home is unsanitary or ill-kept. Bed bugs and their eggs can travel on luggage, furniture or other goods moved from one location to another.


Signs of Bed Bugs

  • Common signs include unexplained bite marks or red bumps on your skin, black or dark red spots on bedding, mattresses or box springs, cast-off skins from nymphs, and, of course, sightings of live or dead bed bugs.
  • Bed bugs are not known to spread or cause diseases and people vary in their reactions to them. Their bites can cause itching and a loss of sleep due to irritation or anxiety about them. Sometimes excessive scratching can lead to a secondary infection.


Prevention of Bed Bugs

  • Check and clean used furniture or goods before bringing them into your home.
  • When travelling, inspect your room, particularly the mattress, box spring, headboard, and upholstered chairs, for signs of live bed bugs or eggs. Keep your luggage away from the bed, possibly on a luggage rack or inside a plastic bag.
  • Returning from a trip, vacuum your luggage and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. Wash and dry dirty clothes at the highest temperature possible and dry clean clothes in a hot dryer for 15-20 minutes. Note: Freezing is not an effective method to kill bed bugs or bed bug eggs.


Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

  • If you suspect an infestation, place double-sided tape around the legs of a bed or on the floor around the bed to verify.
  • If you rent, the landlord is responsible for taking care of the issue.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub the mattress and vacuum or steam clean the mattress, floors, baseboards and carpets. Place a bed bug proof cover over the mattress and box spring and do not remove. Bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding.
  • Put clothing, bedding, and curtains in a medium to hot dryer for 20-30 minutes. Seal the cleaned items in plastic bags until other bed bug treatments are complete.
  • Purchase chemical spray, dust or powder registered for bed bug use and follow the instructions carefully.

Call an exterminator to ensure the problem is dealt with effectively. Professionals often use a combination of heat and chemical treatments for best results.