Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are found worldwide and are spread through human travel. This travel can be people going from motel to motel, or because of moving from one place to another. Bed bugs are not just a motel problem anymore. During the last decade, there has been a large increase in bed bugs in the U.S. especially in multi-unit homes such as apartment buildings. Although bed bugs have never been shown to spread illnesses to people, living in bed bug infested homes may cause emotional stress, concern and lack of sleep.

Bed bugs are reddish-brown, wingless and very flat. They do not jump or fly. The young may be light brown or yellowish in color until after they have fed and become darker. After feeding, they are bright red from the blood they have eaten and have a swollen body which can make them look like a different insect altogether.

Bed bugs mostly prefer humans, but may feed on other warm-blooded animals, as well as pets. During the day, bed bugs hide in cracks near the bed or places where people sleep at night. At night, bed bugs come out of their hiding places to feed. Bites are most often found on the upper body: neck, arm and shoulders, but may be found on legs or ankles. Some people are sensitive to the bites which may become red and swollen. Many people can be bitten and will not have a reaction to the bite.

These little creatures are hearty and can live up to a year without feeding which can make it very hard to get rid of them.

Most of the time, people move bed bugs from place to place. The most common ways bed bugs get started are:

  • Travelers bring bed bugs home from hotels or motels in their luggage.
  • They may be brought home with used furniture.
  • Bed bugs can hitch a ride to another setting by hanging on clothing. (Be careful if you visit someone who has bed bugs.)
  • Family members living away from home (such as, at college) may bring them home on holidays.
  • If you move into a home or apartment that has bed bugs, you now may too have bed bugs.

Treatment for Bed bugs is difficult, often needing pest control professionals. UNL Extension suggests these steps if hiring the professionals are not an option:

  • Patience/Keep trying - Killing bed bugs without the professionals will need you to be very patient and thorough.
  • Wash - bedding, pillows, and clothing. Fully dry in a hot dryer to kill all stages of the bed bugs.
  • Vacuum - mattress, box springs (inside and outside), furniture, beds, headboards and carpets around the infested area and close to the wall. When done vacuuming remove bag and take it to the outside trash.
  • Steam clean carpets – the heat is what kills the bed bugs.
  • Mattress encasements - Bed bug specific zip covers. Keep mattress covered for at least a year to make sure all the bugs are dead.
  • Get rid of the clutter – clutter makes great hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Chemicals – Most over the counter chemicals/sprays/bombs do not work on bed bugs, even if the label states that is does. These chemicals can also be unsafe to us if over used or not used correctly.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE) - This dust is organic and is very safe to use, if used correctly. DE kills bed bugs by sticking to the outside of their bodies and gripping to the wax layer that keeps them from losing their body moisture. The bed bugs dry up and die within a couple of days.
  • The emotional stress from having bed bugs is real, but there should be no shame. The battle to rid your home can be exhausting and very lengthy. If at all possible it is best to hire the professionals.

For more information on bed bugs visit https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs or contact Four Corners Health Department at 362-2621 or toll-free at 877-337-3573. Visit the website at www.fourcorners.ne.gov.