Bed bugs infest homes, group residences, hotels and other places where people sleep, rest or sit for long periods.
Like ticks and mosquitoes, bed bugs feed on human blood. Their bites can cause pain and swelling, and possible infection. Difficult to eradicate, bed bugs are an increasing problem in Mississippi and the U.S. as a whole.
Bed bugs are oval brown insects between 1/4" and 3/8" long – about the size of an apple seed. Their bodies are flat, allowing them to hide in seams, cracks and crevices. Young bed bugs (nymphs) are very small (about 1/16") and nearly colorless.
Bed bugs hide during the day in mattresses, walls, furniture and any other quiet dark place they can crawl into that is close to sleeping humans. They emerge at night to feed on exposed skin. The head and neck are typical places for bites to appear, but they will also bite bare arms and legs. Bed bugs often leave a series of bite marks in a row as they look for the best feeding spot. Adults can live for months between feedings.
If You Think You Have Bed Bugs
- Property owners: Contact a professional exterminator with experience in the special requirements of bed bug control.
- Renters: Notify your landlord of bed bug conditions.
- HUD Multifamily Housing: See the HUD Notice on Bed Bug Control and Prevention PDF
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs feed wherever skin is exposed. This is typically the head and neck, but bites can appear anywhere on the body. Bites from multiple bugs may appear grouped or in a row. Sensitivity to bed bug bites varies; some people may show only a small red bump, while bites in others can cause swelling, inflammation or rash. Bites can be mistaken for insect bites or skin irritation.
Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to humans. However, their bites can cause discomfort and distress and pose a risk of infection, especially for those in poorer health.
Detecting Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are commonly found:
- in bed frames, box springs and headboards
- under mattresses or in mattress seams
- in furniture such as desks and chairs
- behind baseboards
- in electrical outlets, televisions and radios
- behind wallpaper
- behind clocks and pictures
- in cracks in wood floors, and under the edge of carpet
What to Look For
Small spots of dried blood on or near the bed, or black dots like pepper are a sign that bed bugs are present and have been feeding. If bed bugs are numerous, their signs can look like dark mold or mildew on the mattress.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Common household pesticides are not effective against bed bugs. Bedbugs will not respond to insecticides designed for other types of insects such as fleas or ticks.
Effective bed bug control involves removal, disassembly and cleaning of furniture along with proper application of specialized products to kill both bed bugs and their eggs. Consult a professional exterminator with experience in bed bug control.
Bed Bug Control Resources
Advice for Travelers
Bed bugs don't just infest homes. They can live in hotels, theaters, transportation and other places where people sit or rest for long periods. They can hide in clothing, purses, backpacks or luggage and be carried into your home. Travelers, especially frequent ones, need to consider extra precautions with their luggage and belongings when they pack, unpack and return home.
For Teachers and Students
For Health Professionals
For more information on bed bug detection and control, call the MSDH Office of Environmental Health at 601-576-7690.