Skip Navigation
 
 

Bed Bugs

 

Learn about bed bugs and what to do to eliminate an infestation.

What are bed bugs?

Unfed adult bed bugs are 6-10 mm long oval-shaped brown insects with no wings. After feeding, bed bugs swell in size and darken to a blood red colour. During their one year lifespan, a female can lay 200-400 eggs that hatch within 10 days. These insects can live for up to a year without feeding!

Where are bed bugs found?

  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Dorms
  • Apartments
  • Condos
  • Homes
  • Businesses and offices

What do bed bugs feed on?

Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood, but will also bite other mammals and birds. Both male and female bed bugs bite. These insects bite at night, all over the body, but the most common areas are:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Torso
  • Arms
  • Hands

How do I know if I have an infestation?

Itchy welts on your skin, black or brown spots on mattresses, sheets, bed frames or walls can indicate an infestation. If the infestation is large, you may notice a sweet smell in the room.

Typically active only at night, bed bugs may come out during the day, especially if a chance to feed occurs. Because of their flattened bodies, bed bugs hide in small locations such as:

  • Under wallpaper
  • Behind picture frames
  • In electrical outlets
  • Inside box springs
  • On mattress pads
  • Night tables

How do bed bugs get into my home?

If you travel, you run the chance of carrying bed bugs into your home on your luggage, furniture, or clothing. They can also travel from apartment to apartment along pipes or electrical wiring. It is important to note that bed bugs do not indicate a lack of cleanliness!!

Check for live bed bugs or shells in:

  • Seams, creases, crevices, tufts and folds of mattresses and box springs
  • Cracks in the bed frame and headboard
  • Under chairs, couches, beds and dust covers
  • Between the cushions of couches and chairs
  • Under area rugs and between curtain folds
  • In drawers, telephones, radios/alarm clocks
  • Behind baseboards, quarter-rounds, and around window and door casings

How can bed bugs affect my health?

Some people are not even aware that they have been bitten by a bed bug, others may have a localized reaction. Bed bugs are not known to transmit infectious diseases to humans, but can cause:

  • Allergic reactions and itchy welts similar to a mosquito bite
  • Allergic sensitivity to increase from prolonged exposure
  • Infections from scratching and picking the scabs

What do bed bug bites look like?

There are 4 types of skin rashes possible from bed bug bites:

Common

  1. Localized red and itchy flat lesions (often in a linear group of 3)
  2. Small, swollen red lesions

Rare

  1. Large, often itchy, red welts
  2. People with a high sensitivity to bed bug saliva may develop a lump filled with blood or fluid

How do I treat bed bug bites?

Most bites go away on their own and do not require treatment. The best thing to do is keep the skin clean and try not to scratch. If the bites are itchy, talk to your doctor about prescription creams or antihistamines.

For secondary skin infections, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics.

How can I remove bed bugs?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the best method to removing bed bugs. This approach combines techniques and products that pose the least risk to human health. If the IPM method does not work, insecticides may be required.

Non-chemical approaches:

  • Vacuum sleeping areas frequently (mattress, furniture, cracks, crevices)
  • Seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag outside to prevent the bugs from escaping
  • Steam clean the carpet
  • Throw out infested mattresses and furniture
  • Wash bedding and clothing in hot water
  • Clean your bedroom frequently and avoid clutter
  • Seal all cracks, crevices, and loose wallpaper to reduce shelter space for the bed bugs

Insecticides:

  • Use a licensed pest control company with experience in eliminating bed bug infestations
  • Use the least toxic product available
  • Use insecticides in conjunction with non-chemical approaches

How can I prevent future infestations?

  • Use a zippered bed encasement and duct tape the zipper
  • Seal mattresses in a plastic film
  • Inspect and clean second-hand furniture thoroughly
  • Inspect hotel rooms and do not put your suitcase on the bed

How can I get a bed bug identified?

Submit a sample to the Halton Region Health Department for free bed bug identification.

"animal bites", "bed bugs", "environmental health", home
TOP