Bed bugs are tiny, flat, wingless insects that range in color from nearly white to deep brown/reddish. The parasitic pests get their name from their hiding spot of choice – they prefer burrowing into bed frames and mattresses during the day, then become active at night when they feed on people and pets. Bed bugs are resilient pests that can hitch a ride on luggage, furniture, storage boxes, backpacks and clothing (but rarely humans), very quickly causing an infestation.
Waking up with bites might be the first indicator that you have a bed bug problem. Their bites are often arranged in lines or clusters on the face, neck, arms or hands. Where there are bed bugs in large numbers, you might smell a sweet, musty odor (from the bugs’ scent glands) or see rust-colored spots on your bedding or mattress caused by bed bug blood or excrement. If you look closely, you might see adult bed bugs themselves, usually in mattress folds or seams or on the wall behind the headboard. Bed bugs prefer to stay close to their food source and are typically found hiding out within 1 to 5 ft of infested beds or furniture.
Discourage bed bug infestation by keeping clutter picked up, washing bedding and upholstery routinely and not buying used furniture. When you’re traveling, lower your risk of bringing bed bugs back home by opening your suitcase on a hotel desk or luggage rack instead of on the bed; keeping your belongings in your suitcase, not unpacked in dresser drawers; sealing dirty laundry in plastic bags that can be taken straight to the laundry room at home; and inspecting your luggage for bed bug activity before you bring it into your bedroom.