How to protect yourself and your home

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How to Protect
Yourself and
Your Home
How to Protect
Yourself and
Your Home
Bed bugs have been a pest of humans throughout history and were a common pest
in the United States at the turn of the previous century. They were essentially
eradicated in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s largely because of the use of the
insecticide DDT, which was readily available to consumers and was broadly applied
with little regulation. Since the 1990s, we have seen an increase in bed bug
infestations in the United States. There are many theories about why bed bug
infestations have returned including increases in international travel, the transfer of
secondhand furniture and clothing, a higher turnover of occupants in multi-unit
housing, widespread resistance to insecticides (including DDT); and a lack of bed
bug awareness and precautions worldwide. While these factors all contribute to the
rise in infestations, we need to remember that bed bugs are natural ectoparasites of
humans. When we consider the billions of people living on earth today compared to
100 years ago, it should be no surprise that there are more bed bugs.
Donec Vitae Sem
This book will give you information that you need to identify a bed bug, and the
signs of a potential infestation. You will also learn about how bed bugs can get into
your home. Use this guide to learn how to check yourself and your home for bed
bugs, and what management tools should and should not be used in your home.
For more information, please visit:
Bed Bug Outreach and Education Program
VDACS Office of Pesticide Services
Virginia Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services
Virginia Tech Department of Entomology
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Bed Bug Identification
Bed bugs have five immature stages. Each stage must consume a blood meal to
develop into the next stage. Adult bed bugs must have regular (~7 days) blood meals
in order to keep producing eggs.
Adult bed bugs are flat and reddish brown in
color. They are the size and color of an apple
Nymphs, or immature bed bugs, are
yellowish in color and semi-transparent.
Immature bed bugs range from the size of
this comma ( , ) to the size of this zero (O).
Eggs are very tiny, pearl white in color and
about the size of this comma ( , ). You can
see their red eyes developing at age 5 days.
The Life of a Bed Bug
When bed bugs are not feeding Bed bugs feed only on blood.
(typically during the daylight hours) they They may probe your skin several
gather together in groups or aggregations.
times with their mouthparts before
settling in to feed.
Female bed bugs will begin laying eggs within
a day or two of feeding and mating. Eggs will
hatch in 6 to 9 days and, with access to regular
blood meals, nymphs will continue to develop.
Adult bed bugs will mate
very soon after feeding. 4
Bed Bug Indicators
Seeing and identifying live bugs is the most obvious
indicator of a bed bug problem.
Each person reacts differently to bed
bug bites. Skin reactions are not the
best way to identify bed bugs.
Immature bed bugs have to shed their skin in order to grow.
Sometimes the shed skins are the only bed bug evidence
you will find, not the bugs themselves.
Bed bugs feed
on blood and
then excrete it
as feces (bed
bug poop).
These black
poops are
indicators of
bed bug
How Do Bed Bugs
Get Into Your Home?
Bed bugs can get into your home by
hitchhiking on your belongings.
Storing furniture or bringing used furniture into your
home is a common way to get bed bugs. Inspect any
used furniture before bringing it inside.
In some cases, bed bugs can get from your
neighbor’s home to your home by climbing
through the voids in the walls.
Friends and family coming to visit may also have
hitchhiking bed bugs on their belongings, even without
them knowing it.
How to Check Yourself
For Bed Bugs
You can also pick up bed bugs on the seams, surfaces
or cuffs of shirts and blouses when sitting on infested
Inspect your purses,
computer bags, gym
bags and other items
for bed bugs before
bringing them back into
your home each day.
Examine your pants for bed bugs by carefully inspecting seams, surfaces, and cuffs.
Inspect the tread of your shoes and the laces for clinging bugs.
How to Check Your Home
For Bed Bugs
If you think you may have bed bugs at
home, inspect locations where you (the
food source) like to rest. Check the bed
seams and mattress tags for bed bug
Inspect the nightstands and furniture
next to the bed using a flashlight to see
inside drawers, set-in screw holes,
cracks and wood seams.
Make sure to
have a flashlight
with a strong and
bright beam!
Inspect upholstered furniture, like couches.
Using a flashlight, carefully look over
surfaces, seams, cracks and crevices and
cushions for bed bug evidence.
What Can You
Do in Your Home?
Bed bug monitors, like these, capture
any bed bugs that try to find their way to
a blood meal (you). The bugs fall into
the trap and cannot escape.
You can see bed bugs and their eggs. Simply
inspecting your personal items can protect you from
infesting your home.
To protect your bed from becoming a
home for bed bugs by placing both
the mattress, and especially the box
springs, in a “bite-proof,” “escape
proof” encasement.
The heat from a hot clothes dryer will
kill all bed bugs and their eggs. Many
types of items can go in the dryer,
including clothes, shoes, and bed
What Can Your
Housing Management Do?
Items that may contain bed bugs can be sealed and
cooked inside a heat box. The heat will kill all bed bugs
and their eggs in furniture and personal items.
A desiccant dust can be applied in wall
voids, behind faceplates, and in drop
ceilings to prevent bed bugs from moving
from one apartment unit to another.
When a bed bug infestation occurs, trained bed bug exterminators will be needed to get
the population under control. Trained bed bug-sniffing dogs may be brought in periodically
for inspections.
What NOT To Do
For Bed Bugs In Your Home
Bed bugs will not walk through piles of dust.
If a pile of dust is higher than their eye why
would they get in it? This dust is a potential
inhalation hazard, a mess, and bed bugs will
just avoid it.
Never attempt to control a bed bug infestation
yourself with insecticides. If spraying insecticides
worked we would have no bed bug problems in the
United States. Insecticide exposure is dangerous for
you, and will not control bed bugs.
Do not put insecticides or repellents on your skin or bedding
to stop bed bugs from biting. These products pose more
danger to you than the bed bugs, and do not prevent bed
bug bites.
House fires and explosions have been
caused by people over-using bug
bombs to control bed bugs. Studies
have shown that bug bombs do not
control infestations.
How to Protect
Yourself and
Your Home
Presented by the Dodson Urban Pest Management
Laboratory at Virginia Tech in cooperation with the
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services, Office of Pesticide Services and Virginia
Cooperative Extension.
For more information, please visit:
Bed Bug Outreach and Education Program
VDACS Office of Pesticide Services
Virginia Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services
Virginia Tech Department of Entomology
Virginia Cooperative Extension
Created by Molly Stedfast and Dini Miller
Photos Copyrighted by the Dodson Urban Pest Management Laboratory at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech Entomology
c/o Dodson Urban Pest Management Laboratory
216 A Price Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

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