Bed bugs, although an annoyance, are unable to transmit disease and are not harmful or hazardous to your health. Therefore, they are not regulated by the Broome County Health Department. Complaints regarding bed bugs should be directed to your local code enforcement officer.
Broome County Health Department Bed Bug Fact Sheet
(Adapted from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
WHAT ARE BED BUGS?
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping. Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies. About the size of an apple seed, they are big enough to be easily seen, but often hide in cracks in furniture, floors, or walls. When bed bugs feed, their bodies swell and become brighter red. They can live for several months without food or water.
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 spot in the center like flea bites.
ARE BED BUGS DANGEROUS?
Although bed bugs are an annoyance, they are not known to spread disease.
HOW DOES A HOME BECOME INFESTED WITH BED BUGS?
In most cases, people carry bed bugs into their homes unknowingly, in infested luggage, furniture, bedding, or clothing. Bed bugs may 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 may notice itchy skin welts. You may also see the bed bugs themselves, small bloodstains from crushed insects, or dark spots from their droppings. It is often hard to see them because they hide in or near beds, other furniture, and in cracks.
1. Find out where bed bugs are hiding in your home.
Use a bright flashlight to look for bed bugs or their dark droppings on bedroom furniture. Or use a hot hair dryer to force them out of hiding spaces and cracks. Check:
- Behind your 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.
- 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.
- Repair cracks in plaster and loose wallpaper.
- 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 or clutter that can’t be cleaned. Seal tightly in a plastic garbage bag and discard in an outside container.
- If you throw infested furniture away, 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.”
- Never resell or donate infested furniture.
HOW CAN I GET RID OF BED BUGS?
Pesticides and their application are regulated by the New York State Department of Conservation. Pesticides can be hazardous to people and pets. The Broome County Health Department recommends that owners hire pest control professionals licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to get rid of bed bugs. The pest control company should:
- Inspect your home to confirm the presence of bed bugs.
- Find and eliminate their hiding places.
- Treat your home with special cleaning and/or pesticides if necessary.
- Make return visits to make sure bed bugs are gone.
IS IT NECESSARY TO USE PESTICIDES TO GET RID OF BED BUGS?
The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to clean, disinfect and eliminate their hiding places. Since bed bugs can live for several months without food and water, pest control professionals may use a pesticide. Talk with the pesticide applicator about safe use of pesticides and make sure they:
- Use the least toxic pesticide.
- Follow instructions and warnings on product labels.
- Advise you about staying out of treated rooms and when it is safe to reenter.
- Treat 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 KEEP BED BUGS OUT OF MY HOME?
- Wash clothing and bedding 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.