Answers to Basic Bed Bug Questions

By Chris Williams on November 9, 2015.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like? – Bed bugs are oval, flattened, wingless, and about the size of an apple seed when fully grown. Bed bug eggs are tiny, white and cylindrical. When bed bug nymphs first hatch, they are almost clear and become more brown as they get older. A bed bug that has just fed on blood will be swollen and dark red in color.

Why Are Bed Bugs a Problem?  Bed bugs feed on the blood of people and animals. Their bites can be annoying and itchy and can become infected, but bed bugs do not transmit any diseases. Bed bugs are spreading throughout the U.S. into many regions not previously infested (see In the News – Bed Bugs Are Here to Stay!).

How Do Bed Bugs Get into People’s Homes? Bed bugs get into homes and businesses by hitchhiking on furniture, luggage, clothes, backpacks, tote bags, and other personal items. Bringing in used beds, other furniture, or secondhand items is a good way to bring in bed bugs as well (see Don’t Discard Bed Bug-Infested Furniture). In apartments, bed bugs can simply walk from one unit to another.

Where Do Bed Bugs Hide? Bed bugs are most often found in or around beds, near their food source. They hide in the seams, tufts, and crevices of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. They can also be found in clutter under beds, in nearby curtains, bedside tables, behind picture frames or loose wallpaper, behind baseboards…almost anywhere in a heavy infestation.

How Can I Tell if I Have Bed Bugs? Itchy bites may be the first indication that you have bed bugs (see Identifying Bed Bug Bites). You may see very little evidence with a minor infestation. As bed bugs multiply, you may notice reddish or brownish blood spots or smears on bed sheets, pillowcases, or mattresses. You may see dark specks from bed bug feces. You could see bed bugs, their eggs, or their shed skins in cracks and crevices on and around the bed (see What Are the Signs of Bed Bugs?).

How Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs? Experts and victims agree that bed bugs are one household pest that you really cannot eliminate on your own since it is so difficult to find them and their eggs. Repeated treatments are usually necessary (see Please Don’t Try to Treat Bed Bugs By Yourself). Contact a licensed pest control operator. You will be asked to help by laundering bed linens, cleaning and isolating clothes and other items in the bedroom, and perhaps by enclosing your mattress and box spring in bed bug-proof covers (see Do Mattress Encasements for Bed Bugs Really Work?).

For more help with bed bugs, contact Colonial Pest or your local health department. In Massachusetts, you can also contact the Bureau of Environmental Health, MA Dept. of Public Health; Phone 617-624-5757 or visit their website at




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