How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs


Learn how to look for signs of bed bugs in your home and what actions to take if you find them.


If you've been on vacation recently, you may have returned home with more than just a tan and some souvenirs. You may have unknowingly brought home a pest that is hiding in your suitcase, waiting to wreak havoc on your home or even sucking your blood while you sleep.


No, you didn't bring home a vampire. You brought home what is commonly referred to as a bed bug.

What are bed bugs?


"They say bed bugs are hitchhikers because they get in your suitcases," said Carey Donamaria, branch manager of Indianapolis-based Action Pest Control. "It's mainly caused from people traveling and staying at hotels. They've really become a problem over the last five years. If the home is badly infested, you might see them on the walls. We've also seen them in movie theaters, hospitals, schools and nursing homes."


If you have a bed bug infestation, Donamaria explains, it's not a pretty picture. Bed bugs are similar to vampires in that they hide out during the day and come out at night to bite people. The tiny bugs are red or brown in color and have a flat, oval-shaped body. Adults can grow up to 5 millimeters in length and will thrive in moderate environments. They tend to die in extreme, hot or cold temperatures.


MORE: Angie's List Guide to Bed Bugs


"They feed exclusively on blood," Donamaria says. "They have five developmental life stages before becoming an adult. They must take a blood meal to develop into the next life stage."

Where in my home will I find bed bugs?


Bed bugs are usually found in beds, sofas and chairs, and they love to hide. On beds, they hide in the headboards, the folds in the mattress or under the cord line. In chairs and couches, they hide in the cracks and crevasses.


Aside from actually seeing the pests, the most common signs of an infestation are bite marks on your body or someone else in the home, or when you see blood or fecal matter on the mattress, which is usually dark brown or black in color and tiny in size. If the substance falls off the mattress, then it's probably not from bed bugs.


If you have a problem or believe there might be one, it's imperative to call a professional as soon as possible before the infestation spreads. Donamaria has treated homes with as few as a dozen bed bugs up to as many as 200 to 300.


"They're tenacious and hard to get rid of," says Judy Logsdon, with Rid-A-Pest Exterminating in Indianapolis. "They're second only to termites as far as expenses and labor. They're very labor intensive."


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