National Pesticide Information Center



Where to Start with Bed Bugs?

It’s hard to sleep when you have bed bugs crawling on you or your bed. If you think you may have bed bugs:

  • First, don’t panic! Quick, rash decisions may lead to unneeded, costly, and dangerous actions. You are not alone in this battle; lots of people across the country have had bed bugs. Also, bed bugs are not a sign that your house is dirty. However, bed bugs can easily hide in cluttered spaces.
  • If you find bed bugs near your bed, or bite-marks on your skin, don’t sleep in another part of the house. The bed bugs could follow you, spreading the infestation and making it more difficult to treat. Instead, try to make your bed an island of safety by following some simple tips.
  • Do not discard furniture immediately. You could spread the bed bugs throughout your house, making treatment more difficult. You may also cause new infestations if others take home your discarded items. If you must discard items, clearly mark them with an image of a bug to warn others.
  • Bed bugs can be easily confused with other insects such as bat bugs, so correct identification is important. Also, you cannot determine if you have bed bugs by bites alone. Learn more about how to identify bed bugs. If you need assistance, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service or pest management professional for help identifying your bugs.
  • Next, learn about bed bug biology and behavior. This will help you understand where to look for bugs, how to collect samples, and whether you are dealing with an introduction or an infestation.
  • If it is confirmed that you have bed bugs, the next step is to decide whether to hire a professional. Bed bugs can be very hard to control, even for trained professionals. When selecting a bed bug control provider, this fact sheet may help you decide what to do. Whether or not you decide to hire a professional, make sure you think through the treatment options.
  • If you rent your apartment, consider talking with neighbors and landlords about making a group effort to treat the problem. Bed bugs are easily capable of moving through cracks and crevices from one room to the next, and pesticides can make them scatter.
  • If you don’t receive an adequate response from your building manager, consider contacting your city’s code enforcement or buildings department. Regulations may require that a licensed applicator apply any insecticides that are used.

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) received hundreds of calls last year from all over the country about bed bugs. If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

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Last updated January 29, 2016