The Complete Guide to Bedbugs

Table of contents

The Bed Bugs Handbook is committed to providing information on how to recognize that you have a problem and how to remove these pests from your home or apartment. We also provide advice for how to avoid bringing them into your home from other places, such as when you are on vacation,  traveling or bringing used or new items such as furniture or a mattress into the home.


According to a a 2010 study conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, if you have bedbugs in your home you are not alone. There has been an 81% increase in homeowner or renter calls since the year 2000.  The study goes on to state that we are on the threshold of a global pandemic.  It also states that bed bugs are harder to treat than cockroaches, ants and termites.

These insects have been found everywhere including hospitals, daycare centers, college dorms, religious institutions, homes, apartments, libraries and even theaters.  No location is immune.  It doesn't matter how rich or poor you are, if someone carries a pregnant female bed bug into your home, the insect will multiply quickly.

Having bed bugs in your home does not mean that your home is unclean. The bugs can ride into your house on clothing or crawl out of luggage carried from an infested hotel room. You may even bring them into your house on  used furniture. Be especially cautious of used mattresses and bed frames. Finally, your house or apartment could already be infested when you move in or if they moved from another apartment into yours.

Bed bugs bites and symptoms

bed bug bites on chestBed Bug Symptoms and Rash From An Allergic Reaction to Bites on Chest

Many people do not realize they have an infestation. They may even have bites from bedbugs, but not realize what is biting them.  Bites are an allergic reaction that can vary from person to person. Some people can be bitten and not have any skin reaction. Those that are allergic see some form of raised red bumps. There are usually multiple bites in the same area, but a single bite is possible. Bumps are usually larger than a mosquito bite. Larger reactions or hypersensitivity to the bite can result in the formation of blisters. Bites do not normally require any treatment and will go away on their own in a few days. Bites can be itchy, with any over the counter treatment for itch due to insect bites providing some relief.


Bed Bug Actual SizeBed Bugs Grow to 3/16 in Length

Adult bugs are about a quarter of an inch long.  Young insects are called nymphs, of which there are 5 stages in the bed bug life cycle followed by a 6th adult stage. A nymph is approximately 1/32 of an inch or 1 mm long.  An egg is approximately 1 mm long.

Bedbugs are small  insects that are technically not wingless, although they do not fly and can be seen by the naked eye. They hide in narrow crevices near the feeding area, such as a  mattress seam, bed frame, and other furniture, although they can be found in any room or area of a home.

There area many different kinds of bedbugs.  One type in particular likes to  feed on the blood of people, but they will also feed on pets such as dogs.

Life cycle

Bed bugs are hatched from an egg and then move through five nymphal stages (each stage is referred to as an instar.) The insect must feed in order to move from stage to stage.

picture of bed bugs at different stagesBed Bug Eggs, Nymphs (baby bed bugs) and an Adult

 The length of time a bed bug can live is dependent on temperature and how recently they fed.  Cooler temperatures result in a longer lifespan.  It is possible at the right temperature and feeding schedule, that a bed bug could live for 1 year without feeding again.


Applying Spray to Wall Cracks

Getting rid of the insects can be quite a chore. Removing an infestation involves washing all clothes and linens, treating mattresses and cracks and vacuuming all areas of the room. See our guide for specific steps on how to kill bedbugs.

There are a number of commercial products that work quite well. Look for a pesticide that states it is safe for humans and pets, and follow the directions carefully. Buying a kit can be the most cost effective way to treat a room. After treatment mattresses and the box spring should be sealed in a zippered cover to trap any insects and the harder to find eggs that you may have missed.

If you can afford it, hire a professional (see our list for suggestions.) It can take even the most experienced exterminator up to three treatments.  Be sure to ask for a guarantee before agreeing to any service plan.  You can also get a free quote from a national exterminator network such as Home Advisor or to speak with a bed bug expert in your area call 877-673-2704.