Bed bugs are a problem throughout Ohio, the US, and worldwide – so don’t be surprised if you encounter them at some time in your lifetime.
Bed bugs are small insects that hitchhike on clothing, luggage and other items that have come into contact with an infested location. These unwanted “guests” enter our homes on travel gear, luggage, clothing, shoes or other personal items. Acquiring or purchasing used bedding, mattresses and upholstered furniture from garage sales, family friends and resale shops can also introduce bed bugs into the home.
Bed bugs are commonly found in areas where people sleep or rest such as beds, couches or recliners. Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, oval-shaped, flattened, and about 3/16 to 1/5” long. They move very quickly but do not have wings and cannot fly.
Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that feed mostly at night. Their bite is painless but may result in small, swollen and itchy welts. Rows of three or more welts on exposed skin are characteristic signs of bed bug feeding. Fortunately, bed bugs do not carry nor transmit disease, but some people may have an allergic reaction to the bites.
When staying away from home, check beds, mattresses, box springs and baseboards for dark, rusty spots. These are bed bug feces and may include eggs or shed skins.
Adult bed bugs often hide in crevices and may be difficult to find. If you spot any of these signs, request another room or move locations if possible. Keep clothing, suitcases and other items off beds and on luggage stands, even if a room appears to be clean.
Here are some tips for preventing bed bugs from entering your home:
Carefully inspect all items that will be brought into your home after traveling.
Clothing should be removed from luggage and washed in hot water (hot water kills bed bugs). Similar precautions should be taken when family members move back home from an apartment, dormitory, hospital stay or summer camp.
Use caution when placing backpacks, bags, purses and coats on floors or upholstered items.
If you suspect that your home has been infested with bed bugs, confirm their identification by bringing insects in a sealed container to the local OSU Extension office.
Prevention and good sanitation in the home are the best defenses for all types of insect concerns including bed bugs. Bed bugs are difficult to eliminate once established in a home. Over the counter baits, insect fogs, insect bombs and do-it-yourself remedies do not work. Eradication often requires a professional exterminator, several insecticide applications, extensive cleaning and sanitation, along with a healthy dose of perseverance and patience.