Frequently Asked Questions
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when we sleep. Adult bed bugs have flat rusty-red-colored oval bodies, and are about the size of an apple seed. They are big enough to be easily seen, but they often hide in cracks in furniture, floors, or walls. When bed bugs feed, their bodies swell and become a brighter red. Bed bugs can live for several months without feeding.
What does a Bed Bug bite feel and look like?
Most bed bug bites are initially painless, but later turn into large, itchy skin welts. These welts do not have a red center spot like flea bites.
Are Bed Bugs dangerous?
Although bed bugs and their bites are a nuisance, they are not known to spread diseases.
How does a home become infested with Bed Bugs?
In most cases, people carry bed bugs into their homes unknowingly, through infested luggage, furniture, bedding, or clothing. Bed bugs also travel between apartments through small crevices and cracks in walls and floors.
How do I know if my home is infested with Bed Bugs?
You will most likely notice the evidence as itchy skin welts on your body. Bed bugs are large enough to see, so you may notice small blood stains or dark spots from their droppings.
Should I use a pest control company?
If professional assistance is needed, the Health Department recommends that homeowners hire pest control companies registered by the Utah Department of Agriculture.
Your pest control company should:
- Inspect your home to confirm the presence of bed bugs.
- Find and eliminate hiding places.
- If necessary, treat your home with special cleaning and/or pesticides.
- Make return visits to ensure bed bugs are gone.
Be sure your pest control company hires licensed pest management professionals. Ask to see a copy of their license or check directly with the Utah Department of Agriculture by calling (801) 538-7100 or checking online.
Is it necessary to use pesticides?
Before using pesticides in your home, please see our Bed Bug Control flyer (Español). The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to clean and eliminate their hiding places. Since young bed bugs (nymphs) can live for several months without feeding and the adults for more than a year, the pest control company may use a pesticide. Talk with your professional about safe use of pesticides. Make sure he/she:
- Uses the least toxic pesticide.
- Follows instructions and warnings on product labels.
- Advises you about staying out of treated rooms and when it is safe to re-enter.
- Treats mattresses and sofas by applying small amounts of pesticides on seams only. Pesticides should never be sprayed on top of mattresses or sofas.
How can I get rid of Bed Bugs?
Find out where bed bugs are hiding.
1. Use a bright flashlight to look for dark droppings in bedroom furniture. Use a hot hairdryer, a thin knife, or a playing card to force out from hiding spaces and cracks. Check:
- Behind headboard.
- In the seams and tufts of your mattress and inside the box spring.
- Along bedroom baseboard cracks.
- In and around nightstands.
- Other bedroom items, including window and door casings, pictures, moldings, nearby furniture, loose wallpaper, cracks in plaster and partitions, and clutter.
2. Clean areas where bed bugs are likely to hide:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains, rugs, carpets, and clothes. To kill bed bugs, wash items in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Soak delicate clothes in warm water with lots of laundry soap for several hours before rinsing. Wool items, plush toys, shoes, and many other items can be placed into a hot dryer for 30 minutes to rid of bed bugs. Many dryers have a removeable shelf that does not tumble that may be used for these items while they are heat treated.
- Scrub mattress seams with a stiff brush to dislodge bed bugs and their eggs.
- Vacuum mattresses, bed frames, nearby furniture, floors, and carpets. Pay special attention to cracks and open spaces. Immediately after vacuuming, put the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed plastic bag, and dispose of it in an outdoor container.
- If you find bed bugs on a mattress, cover it with a waterproof, zippered mattress cover labeled “allergen rated,” or “for dust mites.” Keep the cover on for at least one year.
- If your box spring is infested, seal it inside a vinyl box spring cover for at least one year. If no cover is available, throw the box spring away.
- Dispose of infested items that cannot be cleaned, and get rid of clutter. Seal tightly in a plastic garbage bag and discard in an outside container.
- Repair cracks with plaster, and repair or remove loose wallpaper.
3. Be cautious using pesticides yourself.
Pesticides can be hazardous to people and pets. If you choose to use a pesticide, or a licensed pest control professional suggests you use one, follow these precautions:
- Only use pesticides clearly labeled for bed bug extermination. Never use a cockroach spray, ant spray, or any other pesticide that does not list bed bugs on the label.
- Follow label instructions exactly.
- Never spray pesticides on top of mattresses or sofas, or in areas where children or pets are present.
- Never purchase or use a product without a manufacturer’s label and never buy pesticides from street vendors.
- Avoid using “insecticide bombs” and “foggers” in your home. These products can spread hazardous chemicals throughout your home, and are not likely to be effective against bed bugs.
How can I keep Bed Bugs out of my home?
- Wash clothing and inspect luggage immediately after returning from a trip.
- Inspect used furniture for bed bugs before bringing it into your home.
- Never bring discarded bed frames, mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture into your home.
How can I keep my furniture from infesting someone else’s home?
- Never resell or donate infested furniture or clothing.
- If you throw away infested furniture, make it undesirable to others by cutting or poking holes in its upholstery or making it unusable. Tape a sign to it that says, “Infested with Bed Bugs.”
Environmental Health Division, Summit County Health Department
650 Round Valley Drive, Park City, Utah 84060