Stop Bed Bugs Safely

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping. Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies. About the size of an apple seed, they are big enough to be easily seen, but often hide in cracks in furniture, floors, or walls. When bed bugs feed, their bodies swell and become brighter red. They can live for several months without food or water.

Return to Top

What does a bed bug bite feel and look like?

Most bed bug bites are initially painless, but later turn into large, itchy skin welts. These welts do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites.

Return to Top

Are bed bugs dangerous?

Although bed bugs are a nuisance, they are not known to spread disease.

Signs and symptoms of bedbug bites will usually affect only the surface of your skin, revealing themselves as small itchy red bumps known as papules or wheals. You might find the lesions in a linear or clustered fashion, indicative of repeated feedings by a single bedbug.

Some people may develop allergic reactions or larger skin reactions such as:

Return to Top

How does a home become infested with bed bugs?

In most cases, people carry bed bugs into their homes unknowingly, in infested luggage, furniture, bedding, or clothing. Bed bugs may also travel between apartments through small crevices and cracks in walls and floors.

Return to Top

How do I know if my home is infested?

Bed bugYou may notice itchy skin welts. You may also see the bed bugs themselves, small bloodstains from crushed insects, or dark spots from their droppings.

It is often hard to see them because they hide in or near beds, other furniture, and in cracks.

Return to Top

Should I use a pest control company?

The Health Department recommends that homeowners or landlords hire licensed pest control professionals to get rid of bed bugs.

The pest control company should:

Return to Top

Is it necessary to use pesticides?

The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to clean, disinfect and eliminate their hiding places. Since bed bugs can live for several months without food and water, pest control professionals may use a pesticide. Talk with the professional about safe use of pesticides and make sure he/she:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers effective strategies involving both non-chemical and chemical methods:

Return to Top

How can I get rid of bed bugs?

Find out where bed bugs are hiding in your home

Bed bugs on bedUse a bright flashlight to look for bed bugs or their dark droppings in bedroom furniture. Or use a hot hair dryer, a thin knife, or an old playing card to force them out of hiding spaces and cracks. Check:

Clean areas where bed bugs are likely to hide
Be very cautious about using pesticides yourself

Pesticides can be hazardous to people and pets. If you choose to use a pesticide, or a licensed pest control professional suggests you use one, follow
these precautions:

Return to Top

How can I keep bed bugs out of my home?

Return to Top

How to keep furniture from infesting someone else's home

Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Return to Top