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Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are making a comeback. These small biting insects multiply quickly and travel easily.

What are bed bugs?

  • Adult bed bugs are insects with oval-shaped bodies and no wings.
    • Unfed adults are 6-10 mm long and brown.
    • After feeding, they swell in size and darken to a bloodred colour.
  • Eggs are white, pear-shaped and about the size of a pinhead.
    • Clusters of 10-50 eggs can be found in cracks or crevices.
    • Bed bugs have an average of a 1-year life span, during which a female can lay 200-400 eggs. Eggs hatch in about 10 days.
  • Bed bugs can live several weeks to a year without feeding.

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Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs can be found in:
  • hotels
  • motels
  • dorms
  • apartments
  • condos
  • homes
  • even in some public places, such as businesses and offices

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What do bed bugs feed on?

  • Bed bugs prefer human blood, but will also bite mammals and birds.
  • They bite all over the body, especially around the:
    • face
    • neck
    • torso
    • arms
    • hands
  • They bite at night.
  • Male and female bed bugs bite.

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How do I know if I have an infestation?

  • Bed bugs hide in small locations because of their flattened bodies:
    • under wallpaper
    • behind picture frames
    • in electrical outlets
    • inside box springs
    • mattress pads
    • night tables
  • Itchy welts on your skin and/or black or brown spots on mattresses, sheets, bed frames or walls can indicate an infestation.
    • If the infestation is heavy, a sweet smell may be present in the room.
  • Bed bugs typically are active only at night, but can be seen anytime especially if a chance to feed occurs.

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How do bed bugs get into my home?

  • People now travel more than ever. Bed bugs are often carried into a home on objects such as luggage, furniture, and clothing.
    • Bed bugs do not indicate a lack of cleanliness.
  • If you think you have a bed bug problem, check for live bed bugs or shells in the following areas:
    • seams, creases, crevices, tufts and folds of mattresses and box springs
    • cracks in the bed frame and headboard
    • under chairs, couches, beds and dust covers
    • between the cushions of couches and chairs
    • under area rugs and between curtain folds
    • in drawers, telephones, radios/alarm clocks
    • behind baseboards, quarter-rounds, and around window and door casings
  • Bed bugs can travel from apartment to apartment along pipes, electrical wiring and other openings.

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How can bed bugs affect my health?

  • Bed bugs are not known to transmit infectious diseases to humans.
  • Bed bug bites, however, can cause allergic reaction and itchy welts in some people similar to a mosquito bite.
  • Allergic sensitivity can increase if exposure is prolonged.
  • Frequent scratching or picking the scabs can cause infections.
  • Most people are not aware that they have been bitten.
  • Others are more sensitive and may have a localized reaction.

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Close-up of a bed bug bite marks..

What do bed bug bites look like?

There are 4 possible types of skin rashes:
  • Localized red and itchy flat lesions are the most common rash (often in a linear group of 3).
  • Small, swollen red lesions (common).
  • In rare cases, people may develop large, often itchy, red welts.
  • People with a high sensitivity to bed bug saliva may develop a lump filled with blood or fluid.

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How do I treat bed bug bites?

  • Most bites go away by themselves and do not need treatment.
    • Keep the skin clean and try not to scratch.
  • If bites are itchy, talk to your doctor about prescription creams or antihistamines. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for any secondary skin infection.

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How can I remove bed bugs?

  • The best method to remove bed bugs is Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which combines a variety of techniques and products that pose the least risk to human health.
  • Here are some suggestions for nonchemical approaches:
    • Vacuum sleeping areas frequently (mattress, furniture, cracks, and crevices).
    • Place vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag (outside) to prevent bed bugs from escaping.
    • Steam clean the carpet after vacuuming to help capture more bed bugs and eggs.
    • All furniture and mattresses that are infested with bed bugs should be discarded.
    • Wash bedding and clothing in hot water.
    • Clean bedroom frequently and avoid clutter.
    • Seal all cracks/crevices/loose wallpaper to reduce shelter space for bed bugs.
  • If bed bugs are still present, insecticides may need to be used in conjunction with non-chemical approaches.
    • If you choose to treat the infestation with an insecticide, it is recommended to use a licensed pest control company knowledgeable in eliminating infestations.
    • Use the least toxic product available and follow all manufacturers' instructions.

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How can I prevent future infestations?

To prevent future bed bug problems:
  • Purchase a zippered bed encasement (from an allergy supply store) and duct tape the zipper.
  • Mattresses can also be sealed in plastic film.
  • Be cautious when taking in second-hand furniture, especially beds/bedding (inspect and clean).
  • Be cautious when travelling. Inspect hotel rooms and do not place your suitcase on the bed.

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Where can I get more information?

Government of Ontario Resources:

Some of these resources are available in other languages. Please dial 311 to inquire.