Bed Bug Information and Precautions

Document created by kbass on Dec 30, 2016Last modified by mcunningham on Mar 22, 2017
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Bed bugs have become a huge pest across the country. We want to keep families and patients informed and safe from bed bugs.


Bed Bugs: The 411

Bed bugs are small insects that feed mostly at night on the blood of people and animals.


Adult bugs are reddish-brown. They can reach 1/4" in length and have oval-shaped, wingless bodies. They can live for up to 18 months without eating. Bed bugs will feed on any exposed skin, including the face. They feed for 3-15 minutes and then leave. It is rare to actually find bed bugs feeding. Typically, bed bugs feed every 3-5 days.


Bed bugs can be seen, but often hide. Bed bug eggs are hard to see.


Research has shown that bed bugs do not transmit disease, but bites can lead to secondary infections due to scratching. Extermination is lengthy and extremely expensive and the presence of bed bugs can lead to decreased sleep, increased anxiety, stress and financial burden.


Bed bugs are an equal opportunity pest – they only require a warm, sleeping body and a place to hide. Bed bugs can be found in fabric and wood but not metal or plastic. One in five Americans have had a bed bug problem in their home or know someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in lodgings.


The bed bug spread: How a home becomes infested

Bed bugs “hitchhike” and are carried into homes without you knowing – on luggage and bags, from secondhand furniture, bedding, books and clothing, via public transportation, in the soles of shoes and are picked up from other public places. 


Bed bugs also travel between houses, rooms and apartments through small cracks and openings in or around doors, windows, walls and floors. Attached houses, facilities, hotels and apartments are particularly vulnerable to infestations due to the ease of travel between human hosts.


How to spot a bed bug problem

Bites are often one of the first signs of a bed bug problem. When bed bugs bite, they inject chemicals that prevent a person from feeling the bite. Because bites usually occur while people are sleeping, most people do not realize they have been bitten until marks appear.


Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed. However, if necessary they will crawl several feet to obtain a blood meal. Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but the bugs may become scattered around a room. They also can spread to other rooms or apartments.


Once the bed bug is in its hiding spot, the blood meal is digested. During this process they go to the bathroom, leaving reddish brown spots that are characteristic of bed bug infestations. Hiding areas are typically marked with fecal spots (dried blood).


Bed bug treatment

Pesticides alone rarely get rid of bed bugs. 


If you suspect bed bugs, you should:

  • Find and keep a bed bug for identification. If no bed bug is found then look for evidence of the bed bug blood spots, bug bites, rash or open sores on the patient. Always use a bright flashlight when looking for bed bugs.


To get rid of bed bugs:

  • Consult a Certified Pest Controller
  • Pick up everything in the infested room, and put anything that you need to keep in a zippered plastic bag. Put it in a hot, sunny place (120º F minimum) or in below freezing (below 32º F) for a couple weeks.
  • Bedding and clothing will need to be bagged and washed in hot water (120º F minimum) or thrown away.
  • When trying to clean carpets from bed bugs, vacuuming will not be enough. You must steam clean this area at a temperature of at least 120º F. The carpet may need to be replaced.
  • If you live in an apartment building and think there are bed bugs, call your landlord. All apartments in a building with bed bugs need to be checked and treated. You or your landlord needs to call a licensed Pest Control company to schedule an appointment for an inspection and treatment.


Helpful resources

Contact your local health department.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

For more information:, 



Resources for the information provided here were found at Gilchrist Hospice Care, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services



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