Bed Bugs

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are nuisance insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals (including birds, rodents, bats and pets). Bed bugs are not exclusively nocturnal but are primarily active at night. Adult bed bugs are oval-shaped, smaller than an apple seed, wingless and reddish-brown in color. They are not known to transmit disease.

Where do bed bugs live?

Bed bugs hide during the day in dark, protected areas such as cracks and crevices, windows, door frames, mattresses, picture frames, loose wallpaper, baseboards. Bed bugs can not travel far but are transported by humans by latching on to luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture.

Likelihood of a bed bug infestation increases where there is a high rate of occupant turnover, such as in hotels, shelters, airplanes, trains, and apartments. Typically infestations are not a reflection of poor hygiene or housekeeping.

How do I know if I have bed bugs?

Evidence of bed bugs can be identified in several ways:

  • An infestation can be recognized by reddish or black stains on bedding, walls or furniture from fecal matter, crushed bugs, or from blood stains caused by feeding.
  • A sweet, musty odor may be present in a room with a severe infestation. This odor has also been described as “over-ripe raspberries.”
  • Physical symptoms include bites found on skin represented by irritation such as itchiness, inflammation and welts. If an allergic reaction occurs, see your health care provider. Remember that many insects can cause skin reactions that look similar to those caused by bed bugs.

What does this look like?

Who should I call to identify bed bugs?

Call the Multnomah County Bed Bug Hotline at 503-988-BUGS (2847) if you think you may have an infestation.

How do I control bed bugs?

Bed bug infestations can be controlled by following an integrated pest management approach. Integrated pest management uses multiple treatment methods and emphasizes minimal use of potentially harmful chemicals.

Prevention

  • Routinely inspect for and detect bed bugs.
  • Inspect traveler’s clothing and luggage; keep infested items out.
  • Seal exterior cracks and crevices, repair screens on doors and windows.
  • Reduce clutter in the home.
  • Use a bed bug-approved mattress cover.

VirginiaTech Universityhas a helpful guide for preventing bed bugs»

Sanitation

  • Launder bedding and clothing in hot water. You can also use a dryer on the highest heat setting the fabric will tolerate.
  • Frequently vacuum mattresses and premises; immediately seal vacuum bags and discard in an outdoor trash container.
  • Carefully scrub mattress seams and bed frames to remove bed bug adults and eggs.
  • Seal mattress or consider discarding mattresses in severe cases.

Insecticides

  • Insecticides can make people sick. Read more about using insecticides safely.
  • Select a licensed professional to apply insecticides for the control of bed bugs in all life stages (egg to adult). Read tips for selecting a pest professional.
  • Insecticides should only be applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and other precaution information should be provided to you in advance.

For group quarters

  • Properly train staff on how to prevent and reduce bed bug infestations and communicate relevant information to residents.
  • Create a detailed procedure for staff and residents to follow if they feel they have been exposed to bed bugs.

See a sample protocol developed by North Carolina State University.

How should I handle an infestation if multiple persons could be exposed to bed bugs?

Immediately respond to potential bed bug complaints; keep an itemized list of actions that were taken to resolve the situation.

More Information

EPA Bed Bug Pesticide Information

University of Minnesota Bed Bug Information: