The bed bug population in the United States has increased over the past two decades, affecting many communities including the Pikes Peak region.
Who can be exposed to bed bugs?
Anyone. If you have stayed in a hotel, lived in a dormitory, spent the night in a hospital or care facility, taken air travel, bought used furniture or visited public buildings, you may have been exposed to bed bugs.
What do bed bugs look like and where are they found?
Adult bed bugs are about the same size and color as an apple seed. They frequent areas where people sleep, living in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dressers, bedside tables or in cracks of walls. They tend to be nocturnal and usually stay within eight feet of the area in which people sleep. They tend to prefer fabric and wood over metal or plastic, but are capable of squeezing into any small crevice they can find, when necessary.
(photo: Dr. Richard Naylor)
What are the signs of bed bugs?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find the bug or signs of infestation. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. (Many people do not show evidence of bites.) Bite marks may appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts. If you suspect you have been bitten by a bed bug, watch for the following signs in your home:
- The bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting
- Bed bugs on mattresses and sheets
- Rusty–colored blood spots due to blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture
- A sweet musty odor
How do bed bugs travel?
Bed bugs like to stay hidden during the day, but they can hide in items such as backpacks, jackets, books and other materials, making it easy for them to travel between various locations. It also makes them equal opportunity pests. They do not indicate a lack of cleanliness on the part of the home owner or establishment. When visiting public places, including libraries, it is recommended that you keep bags and other personal items off the floor.
Are bed bugs a health risk?
Bed bugs are not known to carry disease, but they are an annoyance and can be difficult to get rid of if an infestation sets in. A bed bug bite can affect people differently. Some people do not have any reaction to their bites. Others may develop itchy bumps that may take up to two weeks to appear after being bitten.
Prevention and Treatment links:
Bed bugs are resilient insects that can be difficult to eradicate. A professional exterminator with experience treating bed bugs is usually required.
- http://cchealth.org/bedbugs/pdf/2016-Tri-fold-Bed-Bug-Flyer-Es.pdf (Español)
- http://cchealth.org/bedbugs/pdf/2016-Preventing-bed-bugs-safely-NYC.pdf (Focused on New York City but with good info for everyone.)
What to do if you find evidence of bed bugs in library materials:
Pikes Peak Library District strives to prevent and mitigate the presence of bed bugs in library facilities and asks our patrons to help with this endeavor.
- If you believe you have found evidence of bed bugs in a library item, please place the item in a sealable plastic bag and notify the library from which you received it.
- The library staff will provide guidance on how to return the item. Please follow their instructions.
- Do not put the item in a book-drop.
- Do not attempt to treat library materials on your own by placing them in the microwave or oven. There is a metal RFID tag in the items that will spark and start a fire.
- Do not spray library materials with pesticides.
Further questions? Let us know!
Thank you to the Monroe County (MI) Library System for their assistance.