Bed Bugs
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) wants to educate Ohioans on how to recognize bed bugs and prevent them from entering into your home.

Bed bugs are insects that feed on human blood.  They are often found near sleeping areaas in the seams of mattresses, box springs, cracks and crevices in bed frames, and usually spread to gaps behind baseboards, pictures, wallpaper and electrical outlets.  bed bugs hitchhike into a home on used furniture, clothing or other items brought from infested areas.

ODH assembled the Ohio Bed Bug Workgroup to develop recommendations and solutions to Ohio's growing bed bug problem.  The workgroup released a final report to the governor and the Ohio General Assembly in January, 2011.

When traveling, look for evidence of bed bugs before unpacking.  Check pillowcases, sheets and matresses for their feces which look like dark spots as if someone had touched a magic marker to the fabric.  Examine the room thoroughly, especially the wall, baseboard and furniture near the bed.

Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown, wingless insects about the size of an apple seed.  When viewed from the side, they are flat, which is why they can fit into such narrow spaces.  Newly hatched bugs are white or yellowish, and resemble the adults, but are smaller.  Bed bug eggs are white, about the size of a pinhead, and are found in crevices in clusters of 10 to 50 eggs.

ODH offers a free insect identification service.  Send in this form or contact ODH at (614) 752-1029 and press Option 1 for information.  If you identify bed bugs in your home, you will probably require the help of a professional pest control specialist.  But a professional can't do it alone.

To get rid of bed bugs:
  • Remove clutter such as pictures, books and clothing from the infested area, so there are fewer places for the bugs to hide.
  • Vacuum to remove some of the bed bugs, eggs are glued in place and can't be removed by vacuuming alone.  They must be scraped off.  When vacuuming, concentrate on mattress seams and around any tufts or buttons.  Vacuum wherever your inspection revealed the presence of bed bugs in furniture, box sprints, bed frames, floors and baseboards.  Remove and discard the vacuum bag immediately, place it in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it in an outdoor garbage can.
  • Infested items such as clothing, shoes, bedding and blankets can be placed in a clothes dryer on high heat for 20 minutes to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Mattresses and box xprings may be enclosed in a bed bug-proof zippered cover to kill the bugs inside.  The cover should remain in place for more than one year, because bed bugs can survive a long time without feeding.
Infestations will usually require the use of pesticides in conjunction with the cleaning and vacuuming methods listed above.  Chemicals are most safely applied by a licensed professional.  Professionals have access to the insecticides most effective against bed bugs and are trained in their proper application.  However, if you plan to use pesticides yourself, read the Do's and Don'ts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Improper application of chemicals is dangerous, and may even make the problem worse.  For example, bug bombs are not effective, and may scatter bed bugs to other rooms or neighboring apartments.  repellents such as DEET do not work against bed bugs.

For more information e-mail the ODH Zoonotic Disease Program, visit their their Web Site, or visit the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force.