Bed Bugs (Cimex Lectularius) – FAQ

Bed Bugs (Cimex Lectularius) Letter Home

Frequently Asked Questions

What are bed bugs?

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.

Where are bed bugs found?

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.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

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.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

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.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands,or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in somepeople so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs

include:

  • 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.
How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

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.