Bed Bugs 101

September 21st, 2012 by ecoelite

I recently put together a training for a multi-unit housing project and thought that our blog would be an excellent place to share this info. Bed bugs have sure made a resurgence and the media has taken notice. It seems like every week I turn on the news and see at least one story about bed bugs. Now I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but if I had to guess, I’d say that in the Seattle area, 25% (one in every 4 people) of all homes deal with ants at least once a year. If I had a guess a percentage of people in the Seattle area that encounter bed bugs once a year, my estimate would be .01%, or one in every 10,000 people. Despite this disparity in numbers, I would say there are 100 times more bed bug stories on the news than ants. I would say there is a good reason for this though. Bed bugs were virtually non-existent for the last 50 years or so, other than one’s mother tucking them in at night and saying “don’t let the bed bugs bite”! Within the last five years, bed bugs have made a huge return. Naturally, there is much curiosity when it comes to bed bugs. Here is some information that I hope you find useful.

Preventing Bed Bugs

  • Reduce clutter, especially around beds and couches.
  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for infestations before bringing into your home.
  • Use high-quality mattress and/or box-spring encasements.  This doesn’t prevent them, but eliminates hiding spots and makes it easier to see them.
  • Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation.


Signs of Bed Bugs

Many people believe that bites are the best signs of bed bugs, but this is false.  Everyone reacts differently to a bed bug bite.  Some people show symptoms right away, others show signs a few days or weeks later, and others have no reaction at all!  The best way to know if you have bed bugs is to inspect your bed and living area.  Here are some signs of bed bugs:

  • Small red to reddish brown fecal spots on mattresses, upholstery, or walls.
  • Old bed bug skins or their eggs (very small and white)
  • Red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms, or other body parts exposed while sleeping.
  • Live bugs running across your mattress or box spring.
  • Small blood stains on mattress or clothes.


Biology of a Bed Bug

  • Bed bugs can lay one to five eggs in a day and more than 500 in a lifetime.
  • Bed bugs don’t travel like ants or cockroaches….they are hitchhikers.  They are brought into the home via clothing, backpacks, furniture, etc..
  • Adult bed bugs live for about 10 months.
  • Bed bugs only feed for about 5 to 10 minutes then hide several days while digesting their meal.
  • Adult bed bugs can reach a size of about 1/4 inches long.  Nymphs range from 1.3 mm to 5 mm.


Facts About Bed Bugs

  • The CDC and USDA all consider bed bugs a public health pest; however, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease.
  • Bed bugs are most active in the middle of the night (1 AM to 5 AM).
  • Bed bugs are THE most difficult pest to eradicate.
  • 30% of people do not feel bed bug bites.
  • In 2004,  New York City had 82 confirmed bed bug infestations.  By 2009, the number jumped to 4,084.
  • Bed bugs are more common in urban environments.