Bed Bug Info & Facts:

What do bed bugs look like?

Adults are small, brownish insects, just under a 1/4” long and are relatively flat. They are nearly as wide as they are long, and oval in shape. Immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are much smaller and lighter in color. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent and are no bigger than a pinhead (1 mm). After feeding on a blood meal the immature bed bugs may appear bright red in color. Bed bugs lack wings and therefore they do not fly, but they are capable of moving swiftly on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. The eggs are very small (approximately 1mm), whitish, and very difficult to see on most surfaces without magnification (individual eggs are about the size of a dust speck).

Where do bed bugs come from?

While no one can say for certain what caused the resurgence of bed bugs in the United States, there are a number of factors that have probably influenced the re-emergence of this difficult pest.  There has been a general increase in bed bug activity on a world-wide basis over the past decade.  Due to the increased prevalence of bed bugs world-wide, the frequency of encounters with bed bugs during travel is also likely to have increased resulting in a greater number of introductions into the US than in the past.  Most of the early introductions appear to have been associated with travel as many of the early infestations in the late 1990’s were identified in hotel guest rooms.  

Perhaps the most significant factor that has enabled bed bugs to spread throughout the US at an exponential rate is the lack of public awareness. Many people simply don't believe or realize that bed bugs truly exist. As a result people do not think twice before picking up discarded furniture that is infested with bed bugs and bringing them into their home. Once the bugs are introduced it is not uncommon for infestations to go undetected for several months or more.  One of the reasons that infestations are not detected sooner has to do with the cryptic and secretive habits exhibited by bed bugs. They are mostly active at night, coming out of secretive hiding places to feed on people as they lay fast asleep. Their bite is painless so people are unaware that they have been bitten. Once they have finished taking a blood meal they retreat back to their hiding places where they remain undetected and are not likely to come back out until it is time to feed again (often going several days to a week or more between blood meals). In addition many people must first become sensitized to the bite before developing any bite symptoms while others never react at all.  As a result it is not uncommon for people to have delayed reactions of several weeks or more.  Even when symptoms do occur, they are often confused with poison ivy, scabies, allergic reactions etc.  All of these factors enable bed bugs to become very well established before the occupants of the infested structure identify the infestation. 

Common Misconceptions

  • Myth: You can’t see a bed bug.
    Reality: You should be able to see adult bed bugs, nymphs and eggs with your naked eye.
  • Myth: Bed bugs live in dirty places.
    Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding spots.
  • Myth: Bed bugs transmit diseases.
    Reality: There have been no cases or studies that indicate bed bugs transmit diseases between humans.
  • Myth: Bed bugs won’t come out if the room is brightly lit.
    Reality: While bed bugs prefer darkness, keeping the light on at night won’t deter these pests from biting you.

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