Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius)
are small parasitic insec
ts that feed on the blood of humans and other animals and may live for many weeks without eating. Bedbugs molt through three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The eggs are very small but visible. After hatching, they become a nymph, which is 1 millimeter long or about the size of a poppy seed. Adult bed bugs have reddish brown flat bodies about one-quarter of an inch in length. Since they are wingless, they cannot fly. Instead, they either crawl or are carried from place to place. Bedbugs are not known to transmit any disease, but they provoke itchy, red bites that can become infected if scratched.
Bedbugs had almost disappeared from the public attention in the last half-century. However, in recent years, there have been increasing reports of bedbug infestations throughout the US. Some of the factors that the experts think may have contributed to this resurgence are bedbugs’ resistance to common pesticides, increased international and domestic travel, and economic restrictions that favored sharing housing, reusing discarded furniture, and homelessness.
Some people do not react to bed bug bites. But for those who do, bite marks may appear within minutes or days, usually where skin is exposed during sleep. They can be small bumps or large itchy welts. The welts usually go away after a few days. Because the bites may resemble mosquito and other insect bites, a bump or welt alone does not mean there are bedbugs.
Markings, droppings, and eggs
Blood stains, droppings and eggs can be found in several locations including:
- Mattress seams and tufts, sheets, pillow cases and upholstered furniture.
- Crevices and cracks in furniture.
- Baseboards of walls.
Bed bugs can be easily confused with other small household insects, including carpet beetles, spider beetles and newly hatched cockroaches (nymphs). If you suspect that you have found bedbugs, put them in a sealed container and bring them to the Santa Clara County Vector Control District offices for a free ID.
Bedbug infestations are very difficult to control, generally requiring the help of professional pest control operators. Physical measures are necessary during the treatment period, and can help prevent reinfestations. These measures include eliminating clutter; vacuuming carpets (especially edges), mattresses, box springs, baseboards, and bed frames; and washing linen and clothes with hot water. Extreme heat and steam have been used to kill bedbugs in large spaces. If necessary to use insecticide, consult with a pest control operator for the least toxic product.
- Provide clients with information about bed bugs.
- If customers complain about bedbugs take them seriously.
- Hire a pest management professional to treat for bed bugs. Be wary of companies that make unrealistic claims that bed bugs can be controlled with one visit.
- Follow all instructions from your pest management professional.
- Consult with your pest management professional or our District on how to monitor for bedbugs.
The SCCVCD provides free bedbug identification and educational services for residents. To get help, call us at (408) 918-4770 or send us your request for information