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Educational Consumer Tips

What are Bed Bugs?

Author: Better Business Bureau

Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless and range from 1-7 millimeters in length. They can live several months without a blood meal.

Reasons for the resurgence are unknown, but some experts believe the increased resistance to pesticides, more domestic and international travel, lack of knowledge regarding control of bed bugs and continuing decline or elimination of effective pest control programs at state and public health agencies are all causes.

Infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. Bed bugs can be found in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, cracks or crevices and under clutter/objects around a bed. Spotting an infestation can be tough since they typically hide during the day.

An easy way to identify bed bug infestation is by bite marks that appear on your body. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite. The bite marks typically result in a slightly swollen and red area that my itch and be irritating. These bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop. Because most bites happen while people are sleeping, they may not know they have bed bugs until the marks appear.

Other clues to determine bed bug infestation are exoskeletons after they have molted, bed bugs in the fold of the mattress and sheet, a sweet musty odor and rusty-colored blood spots from their blood fecal material that is secreted on the mattress or nearby furniture.

Although bed bugs aren’t known to transmit disease, they still create plenty of problems. Economically, bed bug infestations can hurt your wallet. Effectively eliminating bed bugs typically requires multiple visits by a licensed pest control operator and diligence on the part of those who are experiencing the infestation.

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