Updated: May 25
No one likes to be the bearer of bad tidings, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Like now.
And the bad news? Bed bugs are back- with a vengeance! Of course, they were never actually ‘gone’. But still, recent research shows that “the prevalence of bed bug infestations has been increasing rapidly in the United States since 2001.” The author of the study, Dr. Ali H Alalawi of the University of Arkansas, says that over the last few years pest control companies have reported 50 times more bed bug calls than normal. Add to that the fact bed bug infestations have reached epidemic levels in states such as New York, Ohio, Florida and California, and it’s easy to see why we should all be concerned.
Why Are Bed Bug Infestations Increasing?
Many reasons for the increase have been suggested, from heightened pesticide resistance among the bed bug population to the expansion of the travel industry (pre-COVID, of course), but the fact is that we just don’t know for sure.
At Sterifab, we have received many inquiries from customers about how they should deal with these nasty creatures. And while we’ve written about bed bugs and how to get rid of them extensively, we’re offering a quick list of FAQs here for reference.
Common Questions About Bed Bugs
1. Where do you find bed bugs?
Literally everywhere, but the three likeliest places are single-family homes, apartments and condominiums, as well as hotels and motels. However, they can also be found in nursing homes, schools and daycare centers, offices, college dorms, hospitals and public transportation. No one, and no thing is immune.
2. Are there particular places bed bugs like to hide?
Bed bugs are happy to make a home wherever they can, but there are a few places they really like, such as mattresses, box springs, bed frames, curtains, the edges of carpets, corners inside dressers, cracks in wallpaper, and upholstered furniture.
3. What do bedbugs look like?
Bed bugs are reddish brown in color, small and oval-shaped, usually 5 mm-7 mm in length, although so-called nymphs ̶ that is, juveniles ̶ can be as small as 1.5 mm. Their flat bodies are the reason they are often mistaken for fleas or cockroaches, sometimes even ticks.
4. How can you tell whether you have bed bugs?
Well, there are two main ways. First, if you’re the victim of a bed bug bite the lesions will appear on the upper body, neck, arms, and shoulders. Very itchy welts will appear some 24 to 48 hours after the bites, which look like raised, flat red bumps, usually in rows of three. Second, you may see rust-colored dark spots, egg cases, and the shed skins of the bugs in crevices and cracks on or near beds.
5. What should I do if I’m bitten by a bed bug?
Chances are good that you probably won’t notice that you’ve been bitten right away, or you’ll likely mistake it for a flea or mosquito bites. The fact is bed bug bites are difficult to differentiate from other bites or skin conditions. But if the bite itches or it causes an allergic reaction you can purchase OTC topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines for relief. Here’s our guide on how to tell bed bugs and scabies apart, since that’s a bit trickier.
6. Are bed bugs related to cockroaches or fleas?
No. They aren’t. But it’s really easy to confuse bed bugs with other pests. PMPs (pest control professionals) say that many of the calls they receive end up being about bed bugs, although the callers thought they were dealing with fleas or cockroaches.
7. Do bed bugs carry diseases?
No, they don’t. However, while “bed bugs are not known to spread disease . . . the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can . . . increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.” Plus, some have suggested that bed bugs may be possible vectors of American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) but this is unproven- so far.
8. How do bed bugs spread?
Bed bugs are accomplished ‘hitchhikers’ and have been known to invade homes, offices, hotels and dorm rooms, to name but a few locations. They have been found on objects as varied as luggage and backpacks, mail, shopping bags, house plants, even stuffed animals, wheelchairs and purses. They can, and do, go anywhere.
9. How do I get rid of bedbugs in my home?
Unfortunately, bed bugs are very, very difficult to eradicate, and usually require the ministrations of pest control experts. But you should definitely take the following steps:
Get rid of any clutter, including piles of paper or stacks of laundry.
Treat all the infested areas with Sterifab bed bug spray.
Vacuum all your beds, carpets, chairs, drapes, and blinds.
Wash all your sheets and bedding in extremely hot water.
10. So, the bed bugs are gone and we’re safe?
Well, probably not. The fact is you might still spot the odd straggler after the PMP (exterminator) company has left. But they will probably tell you that a follow-up visit is advisable. And no, it’s not a sales pitch. It sometimes takes two or three visits to completely eradicate those bed bugs.
11. What can I do to prevent bed bugs from returning?
The truth is that nothing will prevent a determined bed bug from getting into your home (or office), but you can make it difficult for them by:
Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors.
Sealing cracks (or crevices) around baseboards, light sockets, etc.
Making sure that window and door screens have no holes.
Removing leaves, dead branches, etc, from outside your home.
12. Do I have to worry about picking up bed bugs outside the home?
Yes. You do, unfortunately! Hotels (and motels) are notorious ‘pick-up’ spots, as is public transportation, including taxis, ride-share vehicles, buses, subways, trains, even aircraft. You also have to add movie theaters, retail stores, medical facilities, as well as your workplace.
13. Where can I find out more about eradicating bed bugs?
We have published a number of articles about bed bugs on our Bed Bug Blog. Take a look at The Do’s and Don’ts of Eradicating Bed Bugs, Reasonable Expectations When Getting Rid of Bed Bugs, and How To Tell Bed Bug Bites from Flea Bites, among others.