Bed Bugs - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Last Updated: April 18, 2019

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How do you identify a bed bug?

An adult bed bug is about the size of an apple seed, about 6mm long, flat and thin, with a leathery body. They do not have wings. Colour ranges from red to brown, becoming bright reddish after feeding. Early instars are a creamy yellowish colour with a reddish abdomen after a blood meal. Eggs are about 1mm long and pearly white. They are usually visible against a dark background. Signs of bed bugs can also be seen on your bed and mattress, or pillowcase. 


Can bed bugs feed off animals?

Yes. In the absence of their primary host – humans – they will feed on the blood of any vertebrate. In homes, they can also feed on pets.

How long do bed bugs live?

Without effective pest control and treatment, bed bugs can survive for long periods without a blood meal. An adult bed bug can live up to about 13 months depending on the sex. Females typically live longer than their male counterparts do.

Is a bed bug bite harmful?

Bed bug bites are usually painless but some individuals may feel some pain. A bite is only harmful if it develops into welts or blisters. Welts can sometimes develop into a secondary infection from bacteria and can lead to severe inflammation, pain, and swelling.

How do you know if you have been bitten by bed bugs?

Not everyone reacts to a bed bug bite and many people will not have a reaction. For those who do react, welts can vary but are usually a reddish itchy lump, about 0.5 to 1 cm in diameter. They can be in a cluster of two or three. Please be aware these are not clear diagnostics of bed bug bites because other insect bites can also cause such welts. It is impossible to tell with 100% with certainty that they are bed bug bites unless it combined with other signs of the insect.

Is a bed bug bite contagious?

Bed bug bites are not contagious.

Does steam kill bed bugs?

Yes. Steam will kill all stages of bed bugs if performed correctly. It is crucial to use the proper equipment and at the required temperature.

Can alcohol kill bed bugs?

No, alcohol does not kill bed bugs.

What are the signs of bed bugs?

Things to look for include finding live or dead bed bugs, either adults or nymphs, shed skins and droppings (dark smear marks/spots in harbourage sites or on mattresses and bedding) and blood stains on sheets from their feeding. Trained, professional bed bug dogs can also inspect and smell where bed bugs are located. 

Close up of an infested bed bug mattress

Bed bugs found on a mattress 

How do bed bugs travel?

Bed bugs do not have wings and cannot fly. They can travel by crawling on various surfaces. They are very good hitchhikers and can move from place to place by clinging to or hiding in luggage, on peoples clothes or in infested objects such as box springs and mattresses.

Are bed bugs associated with cleanliness?

No. Bed bugs are not associated with cleanliness as they can infest any given environment. However, clutter does help to conceal and protect them more, making bed bug control more difficult.

Are bed bugs harmful to your health?

Bed bugs do not transmit disease-causing pathogens and germs. Bacterial secondary infections resulting from bed bug bites can be harmful. The presence of bed bugs can be very stressful and can sometimes create psychological problems.

an arm isolated showing bed bug bites

Rash from bed bug bites

What scent keeps bed bugs away?

Most strong scented essential oils will repel insects, including bed bugs, to a certain extent but it is not a control method. Pushing them away does not mean they are gone – they will have just moved locations. There is no current scientific data to support that these scents will prevent bed bug infestations.

Do mothballs kill bed bugs?

Technically, it is possible as it is an insecticide, however, it is not effective for the control of bed bugs because the formulation and diffusion of a mothball will not penetrate into a bed bug’s hiding spots in order to kill them.

Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?

Yes, but it is very challenging and will depend on the degree of infestation. It is often hard to control moderate to severe infestation on your own. We recommend you contact a professional pest control company for truly effective bed bug treatment and control.

How to get rid of bed bugs at home?

Though it is nearly impossible to be 100% certain, the best strategy is prevention. Regularly inspect your home or residence for signs of bed bugs, especially after traveling. When traveling, be observant and check your hotel or setting. To help prevent an infestation, launder or dry all clothing items when you return home. If you discover or suspect an infestation, it is always best to contact a professional pest control company with bed bug control experience. Effective bed bug control can require multiple methods and products and can be challenging and frustrating for a homeowner to tackle on their own.

Where can bed bugs be found?

They do not hide exclusively in beds but do tend to stay within a six-foot radius of their host. They may seek harbourage under wallpaper edges, in electronics and outlets, and in carpet edges as well as other furniture. Of course, they also do hide in headboards, mattresses and box springs. In a business setting they can be found in lounge areas, plush chairs in offices and boardrooms, cubicle dividers and electrical outlets.

How fast do bed bugs reproduce?

A bed bug infestation can escalate quickly if not addressed right away. A female bed bug can lay between one and five eggs a day, which will each hatch within two weeks. It is possible that after just six months an infestation can have grown from just two bugs to more than 13,000.

How do bed bugs spread?

Once they are established bed bugs will tend to stay in one area but can spread for many reasons if they are disturbed or there is a lack of a host. A shortage of harbourage spaces may cause them to migrate to nearby rooms. A common way they spread is with the movement of infested items or furniture.

Have more questions about bed bugs? Contact us today for more information.


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