What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed upon the blood of warm-blooded animals, such as humans, birds, rodents, bats and pets.
Young bed bugs are about the size of a poppy seed and adults are about a 1/4 inch long. Their bodies are oval and flat and their color ranges from nearly white (after molting) to deep brown (after feeding).
Bed bugs live in cracks and crevices and only come out at night to feed.
Do bed bugs spread disease?
Bed bugs are not known to spread disease.
Bed bugs inject a small amount of saliva into the skin while feeding. An allergic reaction to the saliva may cause the area around the bite to become swollen and itchy. Do not scratch bites, as this may worsen the irritation and itching and may lead to a secondary infection.
Why are bed bugs resurging?
International travel and changes in modern pest control practices are believed to be responsible for the resurgence of bed bugs in the United States.
Bed bugs are common in Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Europe. With the growth of international travel, bed bug infestations are steadily increasing. Since most people of this generation have never seen a bed bug, they are more likely to bring bed bugs home with them in luggage and on clothes.
In the 1940s and ’50s, the pesticide DDT was liberally used in homes to fight insect infestation. With the ban on DDT in the 1970s pest control methods changed from elimination to repellent and baits. These changes make it easy for bed bugs to avoid most pest control methods.
How can I avoid bed bugs while traveling?
Check for bed bugs right after entering your hotel room.
- Place luggage on the luggage rack. The metal or plastic legs of the luggage rack make it hard for bed bugs to get into your suitcase.
- Keep the luggage rack away from walls.
- Check the mattress and headboard for signs of bed bugs.
- Pull sheets back and check for dark brown spots on the mattress.
- Check crevices and creases of mattress for shed skin, live insects or fecal matter.
What if I think my hotel room has bed bugs?
Most good hotels have a plan in place to deal with bed bug infestations. If you believe a room is infested with bed bugs, notify the front desk immediately. You will most likely be moved to another room.
Notify the Southern Nevada Health District’s Environmental Health Division at (702) 759-0588 to report the infestation.
To prevent bringing the bed bugs with you to the new room, have clothes washed in hot water and dried in a commercial dryer for one hour and store luggage in a sealed plastic bag.
How do I prevent bringing bed bugs home with me?
If you have visited a dwelling infested with bed bugs, the following procedures will help prevent you from bringing the pests home.
- Wash all clothing in 110°F water and use a machine dryer set on hot before or as soon as the clothing is brought back into the home.
- Suitcases should be carefully inspected, scrubbed with a stiff brush and thoroughly vacuumed.
- Seal the luggage in a plastic bag for several months to prevent bed bugs from feeding and they will eventually die. Bed bugs can live several months without a blood meal.
- Leaving luggage for several hours in a closed vehicle in full summer sun may also kill bed bugs and eggs.
What if I think my home has bed bugs?
If you suspect a bed bug problem in your home, look for these signs:
- Itchy skin welts on your body.
- Small blood smears on bedding from crushed insects.
- Tiny dark spots on your sheets, mattress or box spring, which are their fecal droppings.
- Dried remains of shed bed bug skins.
Be aware that other insects, such as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, can leave bites that look like bed bug bites. Bites alone cannot prove you have a bed bug infestation.
Additionally, several different kinds of insects resemble bed bugs, so any bugs found in your home should be carefully compared to pictures to confirm their identify. A pest control expert or entomologist can also accurately identify the insects you collect.
Once you have confirmed the presence of bed bugs, devise a plan to rid them from your home.
There are several things you can do to rid bed bugs from your home:
- Reduce clutter
- Thoroughly clean all rooms in the home.
- Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs.
- Dismantle bed frames to find hiding places.
- Remove drawers from furniture and turn furniture over, if possible.
- Use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices.
- Seal used vacuum bags in a plastic bag and place in the outside trash.
- Steam clean carpets to kill bugs and eggs that the vacuum missed.
- Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs.
- Encase mattresses and box springs within special mattress bags.
- Seal any holes in mattress bags with permanent tape.
- Pull bed frame away from the wall.
- Tuck in sheets and blankets so they don’t touch the floor.
- Place the bed frame legs into dishes or cups of mineral oil (bed bugs cannot crawl up slick services).
- Caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and the floor.
- Fill cracks around baseboards and cove molding.
- Clean behind picture frames, switch plates and outlets, and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.
- Infested bedding and garments must be bagged and washed in a minimum temperature of 110°F and dried in a machine dryer set on hot for at least one hour.
- Individual items can be wrapped in plastic and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days or in cold temperature (below 32° F) for at least two weeks.
- Contact a pest control company.
- Verify the company has experience with bed bugs.
- Ask for references of customers who had bed bug infestations.
- Insecticides must be applied in all cracks and crevices where the bugs are discovered or tend to hide.
How did bed bugs get into my home?
Bed bugs come out at night and hide in the presence of light. Their size and shape make it easy for them to hide:
- In the folds and creases of bed linens
- In seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs
- Within pleats of curtains
- Beneath loose areas of wallpaper
- In corners of desks and dressers
- Within spaces of wicker furniture
- In laundry
- In the space between the carpet and baseboard
Bed bugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported home on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, etc. Travelers returning from countries where bed bugs are common bring bed bugs home in their luggage or clothes. Buying secondhand furniture is another way bed bugs can enter your home.
The cleanliness of the dwelling has little to do with the level of bed bug infestation. Bed bugs will thrive in any location where there are warm-blooded hosts and plenty of hiding places.
What are the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords?
Renters: Landlords and property owners have an obligation to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. Tenants have an obligation to cooperate with owners and landlords. This includes preparing the home so that the pest control operator can easily inspect the rooms and treat if necessary. Visit the Landlord/Tenant Hotline webpage for more details.
Landlords: Landlords and property owners have an obligation to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. Bed bug infestations can be considered unacceptable conditions.
Because bed bugs can live for months without feeding, they may be present in clean and vacant homes. Bed bugs can move between apartments through voids in walls and holes through which wires and pipes pass.
For more information on the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords, visit the Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 118A – Landlord and Tenant: Dwellings webpage.
Reporting a Bed Bug Problem in a Rental Unit
Visit the Landlord/Tenant Hotline webpage for reporting instructions. Do not come to the health district in person to submit a complaint. You may have bed bugs on your clothing or skin, which poses a risk of spreading the pests to other clients and staff.
- A single, sexually-mature female bed bug can start an infestation.
- Bed bugs hate light, so if you can’t change rooms, sleep with the light on.
- Bed bugs can go months without food.
- Bed bugs can survive in 110°F temperature for several days.
- Bed bugs can survive freezing temperatures for several weeks.
- Bed bug eggs are very sticky and difficult to remove, making them efficient hitchhikers.
Updated on: October 8, 2018