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What are bedbugs and how do I get rid of them?


Dawn Benham, RN, is an infection preventionist at East Morgan County Hospital, Brush, Colo.

Question: What are bed bugs?

Answer: Bed bugs are small, oval, non-flying insects that are about the size of an apple seed. They have flat bodies which make it easy for them to crawl into cracks and crevices. Adults are reddish brown in color.  Nymphs (juveniles) are clear in color and appear bright red after feeding.  They immediately begin to feed after hatching.  They can travel as far as 100 feet to feed.  There life span is usually 10 months, although, they can live as long as a year at the right temperature.

Question: Where are bed bugs found?

Answer: Bed bugs can be found in any area of the home. They reside in tiny cracks in the furniture as well as textiles and upholstered furniture.  Most commonly they are found in areas where people sleep, especially beds, mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. Other sites can include curtains, carpet edges, inside dressers, cracks in wallpaper and inside spaces of wicker furniture. A crack wide enough to fit a credit card in can hide bed bugs.  Bed bugs can go months without eating so they can be found in vacant homes.

Question: How do bed bugs spread?

Answer: The bug or its eggs can be present in furniture, clothing or bedding.  They spread by crawling.  They can be present in boxes, suitcases or other articles and can be spread when these objects are moved around.

Question: How do I know if I have been bitten by a bed bug?

Answer: Common sites include the face, neck, hands and arms. The bite is painless but redness, swelling and itching are common. There is a tendency for several bites to be lined up in a row. The bites can be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites. Bed bugs have not been proven to carry infection. Usually no treatment of the bites is required, over the counter creams can be used for severe itching. Applying ice can help swelling.

Question: How do I know if bed bugs are present?

Answer: Bed bugs prefer wood, paper, and fabric surfaces so these materials should receive special attention during the inspection process. You may find fecal stains, egg cases, shed skins or the actual bed bug. Look in crevices and cracks on or near beds, under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in furniture, in bedsprings and under mattresses, and even articles of clothing.

Question: How do I get rid of bed bugs?

Answer: Hiring a licensed pest control experts works the best.  The insecticide must be applied to all areas where the bugs were observed as well as hiding places.  If the bedbugs were found on the mattress, it may need to be discarded due to being hard to disinfect. Clothes and bedding need to be washed in hot water and then use a hot dryer.  You may want to take your clothes and bedding to a laundry mat instead of using your own washer and dryer.  As a preventive measure, mattresses can be sealed in a bed bug prevention casing.

Page Last Modified: 08/29/2011
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