Bed bugs suck. Literally.
And they’re back in full force. According to The National Pest Management Association, bed bug infestation is up 81% since 2000.
So why is there such a big bed bug problem all of a sudden?
Good question. Bed bugs were nothing but a nursery rhyme when we were kids but now all of a sudden, they’re all over the news – and our homes. What is going on?
No one knows for sure why bed bugs have started making such a booming comeback in recent years, but it’s suspected that it has to do with multiple causes.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports it’s a perfect storm made up of bed bugs’ increased resistance to available pesticides as well as more frequent domestic and international travel.
Even worse, there’s generally a severe lack of knowledge and misconceptions on how to control bed bugs. Which is why the first thing you should read up on is what you should and shouldn’t do when confronted with bed bugs.
What to Do If You Have Bed Bugs and More Importantly – What Not to Do
The good news is that unlike mosquitoes and other dangerous pests, bed bugs are considered relatively harmless.
But if you’re one of many people currently dealing with bed bugs – you don’t really care that they aren’t known to transmit disease nor pose any serious medical risks. All you know is that they make seriously crappy bedroom companions and you just want them gone.
So how do you protect yourself and your family from this onslaught of bed bugs?
Well, as G.I. Joe once said – knowing is half the battle. So let’s start with some crucial bed bug facts you’ll need to know to win the battle.
All About Bed Bugs: The Most Common Bed Bug Facts and Questions
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny, oval-shaped parasites that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, using these blood meals to grow and reproduce. Since we are warm-blooded animals, we make ideal hosts for them. If you’ve got pets, they’ll feed on them as well, but they prefer humans.
Although bed bug infestations have really blow up in recent years – these irritating bugs have been around for ages – there’s references to them in ancient Egyptian literature and fossilized bed bugs that might be as old as 3,500 years old!
Back then, the bed bug population was able to live and thrive by feeding on bats – now, they’ve moved onto bigger, better pastures: us.
What do bed bugs look like?
Bed bugs are very small but still visible to the naked eye. Bed bug eggs are ivory white and resemble a grain of rice except much, much smaller – they’re roughly 1mm in length, about the size of two grains of salt.
Adult bed bugs are brownish in color, but after feeding bed bugs will swell in size and turn a reddish color. They grow to around 7mm in length, about the size of an apple seed. Their bodies are flat and oval-shaped.
Young bed bugs look like the adults, except they’re lighter in color and smaller.
But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. There’s little point trying to explain in words what bed bugs look like throughout their life cycle, especially when we can simply show you.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like? 62 Pictures of Bed Bugs
Trying to determine if you have a bed bug infestation and want to really get a look into what bed bugs look like throughout their lives? Check out the article above.
Is It a Bed Bug or a Bed Bug Lookalike?
The thing with bed bugs is that they are mighty small. So when you’re suddenly faced with a tiny creepy crawly, you’re first reaction may simply be confusion.
Is it a bed bug or just one of the many bugs that look like bed bugs?
Bugs that Look Like Bed Bugs: 7 Most Common Bed Bug Lookalikes
The best thing to do is to find out for sure. Check out the above article to see which bugs are most commonly mistaken for bed bugs and how to tell them apart.
Where do bed bugs live?
We wish they were confined to remote, distant parts of the world, but alas – bed bugs are versatile pests and can live anywhere. They’ve been found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe.
Although they were thought to be a problem mostly in developing countries, they’ve recently been spreading rapidly across Europe as well as parts of Canada and the US.
Not only are they not picky about continents and countries – bed bugs are also found in a wide array of environments.
According to a 2015 Bugs Without Borders study, the top 3 places where pest professionals report finding bed bugs are apartments and condominiums (89%), single-family homes (88%), and hotels and motels (67%). Even past surveys show these kinds of places to be the top three environments for close encounters with bed bugs.
Of course, this doesn’t mean other places are safe from a bed bug infestation – bed bugs have also been found in nursing homes, college dorms, offices, schools, hospitals, libraries, retail stores, daycare centers, and even in laundromats, movie theaters and on public transportation!
They’re pretty much willing to live wherever humans are.
What cities have the most bed bugs?
According to a report by Terminix, which covered company calls from January 1st to December 17th, 2015 – the cities with the worst bed bug infestations are:
1. Detroit, Michgan
2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3. Cleveland-Akron, Ohio
4. Los Angeles, California
5. Dayton, Ohio
6. Chicago, Illinois
7. Columbus, Ohio
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
9. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California
11. Denver, Colorado
12. Toledo, Ohio
13. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
14. Baltimore, Maryland
15. New York City, New York
Is not your city not on the list? Don’t break out the champagne quite yet. Bed bugs can easily cross state lines. And no one is safe from them.
Is there a bed bug season?
Some pests – like mosquitoes – run rampant in the summertime but don’t bother you when it gets colder. Unfortunately, bed bugs aren’t seasonal pests so they can bug you year-round.
That said, summers are usually a little more intense in the bed bug department. It may be because people are unwittingly bringing bed bugs back home from vacation or simply using public transportation and hotels more often during this season.
Although bed bugs are a year-round nuisance, they do have a favorite time of day – nighttime. They’re tricky little buggers and they know they’ll be least likely to be noticed when you’re asleep.
This doesn’t mean they only bite at night, though – they’re most active at night, but they’ll feed whenever they’re hungry, even during the day.
Who gets bed bugs?
Clean people, dirty people, poor people, wealthy people – bed bugs don’t discriminate based on household income or cleanliness. Anyone can get bed bugs.
These parasites are attracted to warmth, moisture and the carbon dioxide released from warm-blooded animals so pretty much the only qualifications you need to get bed bugs are that you have warm blood running through your veins and you come in contact with bed bugs.
The first one – warm blood – you can’t really help but the second one you definitely can.
How do you get bed bugs?
Good question – this is probably the most important question on this list since knowing how to get bed bugs is key to making sure you don’t do it.
Unfortunately, there are many ways to get bed bugs. But fortunately, many of the most common ways to get bed bugs are avoidable.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs? 7 Common Causes of Bed Bugs
Do I have bed bugs?
Everybody who asks this question hopes that the answer will be negative. But trust us, if you have bed bugs – you want to know about as soon as possible. Time is of the essence when it comes to these bloodsuckers.
But bed bugs don’t always leave marks, so how do you know if you have bed bugs?
Bed bugs are nocturnal by nature and usually choose to wait ’til their hosts are sound asleep before crawling out of their hiding places.
Combine that with the fact that many people don’t have any visible reaction to bed bug bites – the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that people will not show any visible marks in half of all bed bug cases! – and you could be living with bed bugs without even knowing it.
During which time, of course, they’re proliferating like crazy. So how do you spot the signs before it’s too late?
Of course, seeing the live, moving, apple-seed-sized parasites with your own eyes is the “gold standard.” Even better, if you can collect some of these buggers and get a professional to identify them – you’ll know for certain.
But you don’t have to wait until you get a live identification. There are signs that bed bugs leave that can be enough to confirm you have a bed bug problem and start acting on it immediately.
How Do You Know if You Have Bed Bugs: 7 Tell Tale Signs of Bed Bugs
Is This a Bed Bug Bite?
Many people don’t have a reaction to bed bug bites, but if you’re in the camp of people who do – you may be wondering if the marks on your skin are bed bug bites.
Here are the must-read articles to know once and for all.
And of course, there are numerous questions that come with bed bug bites. Here’s another article that answers them all.
Bed bugs don’t only bite you. These bloodsuckers have no sense of decency and will feast on any warm-blooded mammal around. That means your pets and even your babies. Here’s how to protect your loved ones from bed bug bites.
Last but not least, you’re going to want to make those bed bug bites stop. They are crazy itchy, after all, and you need to be focused so you can destroy the actual infestation. Here’s an article to help you out with that using what you currently have in your home.
I found one bed bug…are there more?
We get this question a lot. And we get it – we really do. Because when it comes to bed bugs, you want to remain in hopeful denial that the one bed bug you’ve come across is a loner, a fluke, a stray who’s mistakenly wandered into your home all by itself and lonesome.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news but the chances of that are very, very slim. So slim, in fact, that we have a whole article explaining exactly why.
In short: if you’ve found one bed bug, there’s most likely an army of its kinfolk hiding nearby. And that’s because bed bugs are prolific breeders.
How Fast Do Bed Bugs Spread? The Bed Bug Infestation Timeline is Horrifying
Even in the very rare instance that it is indeed only one bed bug that has managed to gain entry into your home – if it happens to be a female bed bug, you’re in trouble.
One pregnant female bed bug can be more than enough to cause a full-blown infestation. And trust us, it can get bad.
We don’t write articles like the above simply to scare you, but to scare you into action. Because even a single bed bug can have terrifying consequences.
Do bed bugs only live in beds?
No, bed bugs can live pretty much anywhere – furniture, behind headboards and pictures on the wall, clothes, inside luggage and purses, even inside appliances like alarm clocks and coffee makers!
They’re called bed bugs because they love our beds as much as we do – but beds are certainly not the only place bed bugs could be lurking, especially if you have a full blown infestation.
Here are some of the most common places you’re likely to find bed bugs:
For a bit of good news – there is one place that bed bugs are not likely to be in: your hair. And yet, it is still a common question. So here is an explanation for why bed bugs won’t live in your hair.
Where do bed bugs hide?
Bed bugs are all about location, location, location – and the best location for a bed bug to set up camp will be close to areas where people typically sleep, rest, or sit for long periods of time.
Bed bugs and eggs living in the crevices of a headboard.
Bed bugs and eggs in the cracks and crevices of a screw hole.
And thanks to their tiny size and narrow body shape, that means they can hide pretty much anywhere – behind wallpaper, in cracks in furniture, and any types of textiles (including upholstered furniture).
But the most common places for bed bugs to hide are beds – the mattress, the box spring, bed frames, and inside the bedding.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide? Top 6 Bed Bug Hiding Places
And of course, once you find all the hiding spots, you’ll want to wipe them out. Here’s an in-depth guide on exactly how to search and destroy bed bugs.
What kills bed bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny and defenseless. So it’s not hard to kill bed bugs. You can simply squash a bed bug dead with your finger. Gross, but it works.
The real challenge to killing bed bugs is three-fold:
- There are a lot of them. Thanks to the bed bugs’ ability to mate with everyone and reproduce like there’s no tomorrow, an infestation can get out of hand quick.
- Bed bugs are expert hiders. They’re tiny with flat bodies that allow them to squeeze into the tiniest cracks and crevices.
- While they’re hiding, they’re also breeding. Bed bugs make a lot of babies in their lifetime. And if you don’t kill those bed bug eggs, the cycle will continue to repeat.
So it goes without saying that you’ll need to choose your bed bug killers wisely. Any time you waste on ineffective methods is giving the enemy a chance to grow stronger in numbers.
What Kills Bed Bugs? How to Kill Bed Bugs On Everything You Own
Whereas there’s a ton of bed bug products out there, there are really only a handful of highly effective bed bugs killers. Here’s a brief run-down of your top choices.
One low-budget strategy of killing bed bugs is by freezing them to death.
But it’s not as simple as tossing your things outdoors during winter – you’ll need to maintain that temperature.
BED BUG SPRAY
Bed bug sprays should be used with caution as they can tip off the bed bugs and cause them to scatter further throughout your home.
If you’re going to use them, pick one that kills both bed bugs and their eggs.
What about bed bug foggers?
Most of us like the idea of foggers. They appeal to our desire for simplicity, convenience and our modern need for instant gratification.
But are they actually effective? In short: you can do better. Click on the article below to find out why.
Do Bed Bug Bombs Work? What About Fumigation for Bed Bugs?
How do you get rid of bed bugs permanently?
Okay, so you have chosen the best weapons available against bed bugs. Now, you need a battle plan. Because make no mistake – getting rid of bed bugs is not as easy as spraying a couple pesticides and calling it a day.
In fact, getting rid of bed bugs is hard to do. It is possible, yes, but it is also going to take time, work, and a really good strategy that covers both offense (kill the bloodsuckers) and defense (make sure they never come back).
Above, we outlined the best bed bug killers. But you also need to know what to use to protect from bed bugs, such as:
Bed bugs require a multi-pronged treatment plan. Here’s the full guide to get you to a bed bug free life. Forever.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: Ultimate Guide to DIY Bed Bug Treatment
Do home remedies for bed bugs work?
The Internet is littered with home remedies for everything and bed bugs are no exception. The only problem is that the vast majority of home remedies for bed bugs don’t work. And even the ones that (kinda) do won’t be effective enough against a bed bug infestation to be worth your time and effort.
Take baby powder, for example. Enough of it may inconvenience a bed bug or two but trust us when we say that all the baby powder in the world won’t convince bed bugs to move out of your home.
Same thing for essential oils.
If you manage to directly apply, say, tea tree oil on to a bed bug – it will kill it. But are you realistically going to track down every bed bug in your home in order to spray it with essential oils?
We think not. You’ve got better things to do.
Which is why we recommend you not waste your time on ineffective home remedies. Instead, focus on the home remedies for bed bugs that will make a big dent in reducing the bed bug population.
Home Remedies for Bed Bugs That Work (And the Ones That Don’t)
Do I need a bed bug exterminator?
Bed bugs are an intimidating pest so it’s understandable that you might want to leave it to the professionals.
The first thing on most people’s minds, though, is exactly how much that going to cost? Quality professional pest control doesn’t come cheap, after all, and bed bugs may require more than one treatment.
What Does a Bed Bug Extermination Cost? It Depends…
Check out the above article to get some answers.
And of course, once your bed bug removal has been completed, you’ll want to make sure you don’t risk re-infestation.
How hard is it to get rid of bed bugs?
We hate to break bad news, but bed bugs are damn hard to get rid of. It can be done but the process of getting rid of bed bugs – and living with them until you do – will be a stressful, time-consuming and traumatic experience.
That’s why we recommend that everyone – especially those living in or traveling to a bed bug infested area – take all the necessary precautions to avoid getting them in the first place. A few hours of bed bug prevention could save you weeks and months of torture.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs Anywhere You Go: Bed Bug Proof Your Life
If you’re already dealing with a bed bug problem – the good news is that you can defeat these jerks. It will take time and patience, but it can be done.
Oh, and even if it’s too late for you – let your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors know that the easiest bed bug solution is prevention.
Last but not least, we’ve put together a guide on one of the most common places people pick up bed bugs – hotels.
Read it, implement it and never bring home bed bugs again.
More Bed Bug FAQs
There are almost as many interesting bed bug facts and questions as there are bed bugs. We’ve tried our best to compile all the bed bugs information you’ll need to be armed with above. But here are a few more queries you may have.