Rosmarie Kelly, PhD MPH
Public Health Entomologist
Georgia Division of Public Health
Quest K9 Detectives
BED BUGS:BED BUGS:
A RE-EMERGING PROBLEMA RE-EMERGING PROBLEM
Barry EngberBarry Engber
Medical EntomologistMedical Entomologist
Public Health Pest Management SectionPublic Health Pest Management Section
N.C. Division of Environmental HealthN.C. Division of Environmental Health
Bed bugs are “true bugs” in the order
Hemiptera e.g. aphids, scales, cicadas.
Hemiptera is from the Greek hemi ("half")
and pteron ("wing"), referring to the
forewings of many hemipterans which are
hardened near the base, but membranous
at the ends.
Hemipteran mouthparts have evolved into a
proboscis, sheathed within a modified
labium to form a "beak" or “rostrum” which
is capable of piercing tissues and sucking
out liquids. Most hemipterans feed on
plants, but some feed on animals.
One theory is that bed bugs originated from bugs
that fed on bats living in caves. When man
moved into the caves the bugs adapted to feed
on them; when man left, the bugs went with
Mentioned from earliest recorded history.
Commonly referred to as chinches by grand
folks. Mahogany flats and red coats were also
Sometimes legs of bed were placed into cans of
oil or kerosene to prevent bugs from climbing
into the bed.
An assortment of treatments used for control.
Iron or brass bedsteads are better for controlling bed bugs than wood.
Kerosene oil, gasoline, or benzene will kill bedbugs if forced into
cracks and crevices with a feather or with a hand syringe.
A mixture of corrosive sublimate one ounce, alcohol one pint and
spirits of turpentine one-fourth pint painted into the cracks of a
bedstead with a feather
Boiling water poured over the parts of a bedstead that have been
carried where they may be liberally treated.
Sulfur candles for fumigating are now made and are very convenient
Hydrocyanic acid gas – this is the killing agent par excellence for
bedbugs and household insects. Formed by chemical reaction
between potassium cyanide, water, and sulfuric acid and is a deadly
poison to human beings and other animals. However it can be
generated and used in the fumigation of houses, without the least
danger if care and precaution are used in the work.
Insects Injurious to the Household, G. Herrick, 1914
“Bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices
during the day and come out at night to
suck blood. Hence, DDT spray must be
directed toward their daytime hiding
places. Apply the DDT spray to the
bedsteads, paying particular attention to
cracks in the wood and joins. Spray the
springs and mattresses. Strip the mat-
tress and spray all sides and the edges,
especially any crevices in which
bedbugs might hide and behind any
loose paper where they might
Bed bugs began to be reported as problems
during mid 90’s mainly by travelers staying at
Lately severe problems are being reported
from apartment complexes and rental home
property in GA.
Resurgence of bed bugs could be the result
of changes in availability and use of residual
insecticides and/or resistance to current
insecticides. Less baseboard applications
are being made.
Ralph Lauren, 650 Madison Ave. - graphic design studio, company offices,
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (law firm), One World Financial Center, 33rd
floor - word processing department, June 2007
Luxury apartment building (owned by Bernard Spitzer), 220 E. 72nd St. -
apartments on 15th, 16th and 17th floors, 2006 and 2007
George Washington Hotel & Residence, 23 Lexington Ave. - dormitory rooms
for students at School of Visual Arts, 2006-2007 academic year
Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, 36 Central Park South - guest room, 2005
Marymount Manhattan College dormitories, 224 E. 47th St. and 233 E. 55th St. -
student rooms, September 2007
President Thomas Jefferson Houses, 310 E. 115th St. - residential apartments,
2005, 2006 and 2007
Elias Howe P.S. 51, 520 W. 45th St. - in classroom or closet, on student's coat
or clothing, fall of 2007
Home of "Boogie Nights" director Paul Thomas Anderson and "Saturday Night
Live" star Maya Rudolph, Greene St. in SoHo - third-floor bedroom,
Sources: Department of Housing Preservation & Development; Housing Authority;
Department of Education and Department of Information Technology &
Derivation 1: According to the Oxford English Dictionary tight
in this expression is the equivalent of the only surviving use
of the adverb tightly meaning 'soundly, properly, well,
effectively'.” Most likely derivation.
Derivation 2: Before box springs were in use, old bed frames
used rope pulled tightly between the frame rails to support a
mattress. If the rope became loose, the mattress would sag
making for uncomfortable sleeping. Tightening the ropes
would help one get a good night sleep.
Derivation 3: In the early half of the 19th century it was a
common practice to wrap oneself completely in a blanket in
an effort to deter the aggravation of bed pests until one fell
asleep. Children were wrapped tightly, or bundled. Bundling
was a common practice in these times also for controlling the
activity of infants and toddlers whilst the mother
accomplished her daily tasks.
Bed bug - Cimex lectularius
Bat bug - Cimex adjunctus
Poultry bug - Haematosiphon inodorus
Swallow Bug - Oeciacus vicarius
Chimney Swift Bug - Cimexopsis nyctalis
These are insects in the order Hemiptera
them “true bugs”. Specimens must be
in order to determine the appropriate
Incomplete metamorphosis - bugs hatching from egg look just like very small
adults. There are three stages of development:
Eggs. Females lay one to five eggs a day over a period of two to 10 months,
producing about 200 total. They deposit the 1mm white eggs intermittently each day
in protected places near their hosts' sleeping quarters, cemented to bedding or in
cracks. The eggs hatch in one or two weeks, depending on temperature. Male
genital pierces the female during mating
Nymphs. Tiny and colorless at first, nymphs resemble small adults. They require a
blood meal between each of five molts. Blood meals take about three to 10
minutes, at which time the nymphs inject saliva containing an anticoagulant. The
nymphal stage can last for several weeks under favorable conditions or as long as a
year when temperatures or host availability are low.
Adults. About 1/4 inch long, 3/16 inch wide and reddish-brown in color. The
flattened oval bodies are adapted for hiding in narrow spaces. The head has a pair
of four-segmented antennae and piercing-sucking mouthparts that fold to lie
between the first pair of legs. The tiny wings are represented only by pads. The body
may become greatly enlarged and blood-red in color during a blood meal but turns a
dirty brown subsequently. Females can live nearly a year without food. Males and
females both feed on blood
Individual bites may cause
Secondary infection of bites possible
Systemic effects from numerous bites
Loss of sleep
Pathogens have been isolated, but bed
bugs are not know to transmit diseases
Bites typically occur at night while person
is in bed. Bites by bug may be painless,
person often wakes to find bugs in bed.
Bites are on exposed areas of skin.
Sometimes occur in linear groups of 3,
called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”.
Individuals may react differently to bites in
terms of itching and discomfort.
Numerous bites may cause systemic
Topical treatment with hydrocortisone, oral
antihistamines or corticosteroids for
numerous bites. Antibiotic cream for
Moved by travelers from hotel to hotel. Bugs
do not actually live on people, but may be
transported in suitcases or clothing in which
Used or rented furniture may harbor
Infestations may be spread from residence to
residence during moves.
Infestations may spread from unit to unit in
apartments and hotels
Infestations are usually centered around bed
Typically the “victim” will find bugs in bed.
Bed bugs can be found hiding in crevices along the
mattress and box springs such as ticking, tags,
buttons, and rips. The gap between mattress and
box spring is a very good inspection site. Check
crevices and openings along the bed frame.
Dark spots on mattress and other surfaces results
from blood that has been digested and defecated.
As infestation grows, bugs may be found hiding
further from the bed - behind pictures, baseboards
nightstands, under carpet or wallpaper. Adjoining
rooms may become infested.
Identify bugs to determine if they are bed, bat or bird.
Eliminate bird or bat sources of bugs.
Clean room and remove clutter to eliminate bed bug
Vacuum to remove bugs and eggs
Launder clothing and bedding in hot cycle to kill bugs
Steam clean carpet and furniture to kill bugs and eggs.
Heat treatment of mattresses may be available.
Two-sided tape or band of petroleum jelly on bed legs
discourages bugs from climbing.
Mattress cover makes it more difficult for bugs to hide.
Easier to clean.
Treat bed frame and head board as permitted by
insecticide label. PCO might not want to treat mattress
or might use pyrethroids.
Treat cracks and crevices with a residual insecticide
Heat entire room to over 200o