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Bed Bugs, Cimex lectularius

Adult bed bug next to a dime. Bed bug nymph feeding. Eggs on mattress fabric. Adult, nymphs and blood spots on wood.
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What they look like
Adults look like apple seeds with legs. Young bed bugs—nymphs—look like adults, only smaller. Newly hatched nymphs are poppy seed-sized. Eggs are tiny white, and hard to spot.

Where they live
In cracks and crevices of bed frames, floors, walls, furniture, electronics, mattresses, and luggage. Wedge themselves into anything, but usually near where people rest.

What they do

Feed on you as you sleep, but if you’re not around they can go over a year without food. Bites look like a rash or welts—or you may not notice them at all. Bed bugs don’t transmit disease.

How to deal with bed bugs

Don’t bring home hitchhikers: Traveling? Inspect your hotel room before you call it a night. Examine your luggage thoroughly with each new place you go. Wash and dry clothes with hot water and high heat as soon as you get home.

Freeze it: Bag small items; place in your freezer for 30 days.

Buying used furniture, bedding, clothes? Inspect thoroughly. Wash and dry bedding and clothes with hot water, high heat. Steam is an option, but make sure stuff dries out so it doesn't mold.

Check everywhere: Keep bedroom furniture an inch or two from the wall and a flashlight handy for easier cleaning and inspecting. Bed bug-proof mattress covers and light-colored bedding make them easier to spot.

Remove: Say goodbye to clutter in your bedroom to get rid of bed bug hiding spots. Getting rid of stuff?  Cover in plastic so bugs don’t fall off and make sure the items are in a dumpster or ruined so people don’t take them home.

Vacuum often: Floors, walls, mattresses, baseboards, furniture ... Get rid of the vacuum bag as soon as you’re done in case you sucked up a bed bug.

Pesticide options: Leave it to the professionals. Some sprays simply repel bed bugs, spreading them around. Make sure pesticides are labeled specifically for bed bugs. Always read and follow the instructions on the label.

Learn more

Bed bugs are back! An IPM answer. 388k pdf file

Bed bug FAQs

Bed Bug Fact Sheet at Cornell's Insect Diagnostic Laboratory

Bed Bug Management—One Step at a Time! Fact Sheets

Step 1: Inspection, 2.4Mb pdf file

Paso 1: Inspección y Identificación 2.5Mb pdf file

Step 2: Get Rid of Clutter, 244k pdf file

Paso 2: Reducir el Desorden 243k pdf file

Step 3: Vacuum Here, There, Everywhere, 250k pdf file

Paso 3: Pase la Aspiradora por Aquí, Allá y en Todas las Partes 250k pdf file

Step 4: Clean Mattress and Bed Frame, 216k pdf file

Paso 4: Limpia el Colchón y el Armazón de la Cama, 232k pdf file

Step 5: Heat Treat Everything That’s Safe to Wash, 272k pdf file

Paso 5: Trate con el Calor Todo lo que es Seguro para Lavar, 272k pdf file

Step 6: Make Your Bed an Island, 609k pdf file

Paso 6: Haga su Cama como una Isla, 609k pdf file

Step 7: How to Dispose of an Infested Mattress, 355k pdf file

Paso 7: Cómo Deshacerse de un Colchón Infestado, 355k pdf file

Dealing with Bed Bugs in Multifamily Housing 560k pdf file

Tratando con chinches en Viviendas Multifamiliares 560k pdf file

Prepare for a Visit by a Pest Management Professional 590k pdf file

Prepárese para una Visita de un Profesional de Control de Plagas 590k pdf file

Tips for Travelers 530k pdf file

Consejos Para Viajeros 530k pdf file

Presentations

Bed Bug Management—One Step at a Time! Step 1: Inspection

Inspección y Identificación Para las Chinches

Bed Bug Management—One Step at a Time! Steps 2-7

Manejo Integrado de Plagas Por Chinches—¡Un Paso a la Vez! Pasos 2-7

Prepare for a Visit from a Pest Management Professional

Prepárese para una Visita de un Profesional de Control de Plagas

Dealing with Bed Bugs in Multifamily Housing

Tratando con Chinches en Viviendas Multifamiliares

Tips for Travelers

Consejos Para Viajeros

For Travelers and College Students: Wallet-sized bed bug information cards, 2Mb pdf file. After download, print them using Avery Label 5820

How to Talk to Callers about Bed Bugs, a guide for master gardeners. 220k pdf file

Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities.

DDT is not effective against bed bugs, 142k pdf file

Stop Bed Bugs Safely

Pare los Chinches de Cama sin Riesgos

Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

... and search our database of online publications.