Bed Bugs (Cimex Lectularius) – FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals
while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of
Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.
Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the
presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading
rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been
found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions
where they are found.
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments,
shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places
such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind
wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet
in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
Bed bugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease.
Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching
can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.
A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the
bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an
allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.
- the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
- bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
- rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and a sweet musty odor.
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs
bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most
people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the
initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch
and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites
include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite
marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react
adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site,
and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.