Bed bugs occur worldwide and bridge all economic and social strata. Bed bug infestations in North America have become much more common over the past 10 years. Adult bed bugs are brown to reddish-brown, approximately 3/16-inch long, 1/8-inch wide, broadly oval, and flat. Immature bed bugs (nymphs), are tiny and appear translucent or pale in color. The eggs are pearly white in color and only 1 mm in length, thus they can be very difficult to detect with the naked eye. Inspections for the bed bugs include looking for live bugs, shed exoskeletons and characteristic black stains created by fecal droppings. These insects feed exclusively on blood however there has been no evidence to suggest that bed bugs transmit any diseases.
Bed bugs do not enter homes from the natural outdoors environment; instead they must be introduced into the home from a previously infested environment. This can occur by picking them up during travel, bringing them in on rented or used furniture, introduction by guests or visitors, or others means. Often the exact source of the infestation is unknown. Once in the home bed bugs will seek small, protected areas to hide. Although called bed bugs, they can live in almost any area of the home such as beds, couches, picture frames, night stands, wall voids, under carpeting, or virtually any available small crack or crevice. However, they will most likely try to live very close to where people sleep. Only highly trained professionals can correctly identify and treat all of these potential harborages. Bed bugs are nocturnal insects and therefore usually hide during the day and are most active at night when they leave their harborages to seek a blood meal. Bed bug bites are essentially painless and often go unnoticed while the bugs are feeding. Bed bugs mature quickly, lay hundreds of eggs, and can live almost a year. Therefore, infestations can grow rapidly and persist indefinitely until proper corrective actions are taken.
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