What are Bed Bugs?
Lately, there have been many news reports about the growing problem with bed bugs. As a Realtor working in the Real Estate industry it is always important to stay up to speed with current laws and issues facing both buyers and sellers of homes and other property. Like any other known defects in a home, a bed bug problem would be an obvious disclosure issue.
Some quick interesting facts about bed bugs: They are usually less than a quarter inch in size, can not fly, come out mostly in the evening and are not known to spread disease although there is some on going debate about this.
Adult bed bugs typically reach 5-7 mm in length, while juveniles are as small as 1.5 mm. Bed bugs have flat bodies and are sometimes mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bed bugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color but will appear more reddish after feeding. Juveniles are clear in color and also will appear bright red after feeding.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs were once thought to be almost totally extinct in the United States. Over the last year we have found out that is not the case as reports have surfaced about bed bug problems in many major metropolitan areas. Bed bugs have been found in both homes and the workplace, infesting both urban and suburban areas.
Bed bugs were common in the United States prior to World War II but became rare after widespread use of the pesticide DDT in the 1940s and 1950s. The bugs remained prevalent in other areas of the world and recently have been increasingly observed again in the U.S, most likely due to increases in travel and immigration from developing countries as well as restricted use of stronger pesticides. Both of these reasons may be factors that have led to the recent increase in bed bug problems.
These little critters are most often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are terrible or when birds, most often bats are nesting near a home. Bed bugs however, can also live in clean environments.
Bed bugs can live in any area of the home but tend to be found in areas where people sleep like beds and other furniture. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as much as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress. Bed bugs generally like small place where they can hide from site. Other places where bed bugs can be found include curtains, carpet, inside dressers and other furniture.
Since bed bugs can live for months without feeding, they can also be found in vacant homes so don’t assume because there is no furniture or beds that they can’t exist.
How to tell if you have bed bugs
There are a couple of ways to determine if you have bed bugs in your home. Upon waking if you notice obvious bug bites there is a possibility you may have bed bugs.
Bed bugs are most active at night and will bite exposed areas of skin while a person is sleeping. The face, arms, neck and hands, are common sites for bed bug bites. Bed bug bites tend to be painless however they will itch which can cause irritation. Small bumps on the skin are the most common sign along with swelling, redness and itching. If scratched, the bite marks can become infected. An unusual symptom of bed bug bites is the tendency for there to be several bites lined up in a row. Many disease specialists have called this breakfast, lunch and dinner for the sequential feeding that is evident.
Bed bug bites can be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of skin conditions, since they are difficult to distinguish from other bites. Bed bugs also have glands whose secretions may leave odors, and they also may leave dark fecal spots on bedsheets and around their hiding places usually in crack or crevices in the room close to the bed.
The other way to try to determine if you have bed bugs is to visibly check for fecal stains, egg cases, and shed bug skin in and around the bed. You can also look at other areas such as in couches and other furniture. Even the clothes you were wearing is a possibility. Fecal stains may suggest that bed bugs have been present but do not confirm that the infestation is still active. Seeing the bed bugs themselves is important to confirm that an area is infested.
How to remove bed bugs in a home
Removing bed bugs from a home is not an easy process. Most of the time a bed bug infestation will require treatment by a local pest-control company. A variety of low-odor sprays, and aerosol insecticides can be used to kill bed bugs. The treatment must be applied to all areas where the bugs are found as well as spaces where they may crawl or hide.
The pest-control company can help determine if the mattress can be disinfected or must be thrown out. Since beds cannot readily be treated with insecticides, most of the time it is necessary to get rid of infested mattresses and beds.
Disclosing bed bug problems
If you are a faithful reader of my blog then you know where I stand on disclosing problems in a home. My motto is disclose, disclose, disclose! Bed bugs are no different. If you are selling a home and discover you have a bed bug problem, you better make sure you disclose this fact to the buyer. Any Realtor who becomes aware of a bed bug issue should insist on being able to inform a potential buyer.
If you find you have a bed bug problem in your home and need a recommendation on a good Massachusetts pest removal company shoot me an email or give me a call and I will give you the bug company I refer all my Real Estate clients to when they have a pest issue.
Other Real Estate articles worth a look:
About the author: The above Real Estate information on Bed bugs was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.
Bed bugs are nasty little creatures that everyone should know about.They are able to carry the infections and should be removed immediately!
Do you think a seller would be liable if he did not disclose bed bugs to a buyer? Is it really a house problem, and not a bed and sheets problem?
Hi George – Yes I do. Would it not be a problem that a buyer would have to spend money on to rectify? Bed bugs do not only live in beds and sheets. They can thrive throughout a home.
Bed Bugs – no one wants to talk about them. I wrote a short post here so thought I would add it here. http://www.movinglinks4you.com/2010/09/14/moving-bed-bugs/
There is some good information in the comments – hope you’ll take a look.
Mary thanks for the article on bed bugs! I took a look and you did a nice job. Bed bugs are certainly something to keep an eye on.
Simply amazing. I always thought (assumed) the bed bugs could live in beds and other type of furniture, clearly not just ANYWHERE on the house. That’s a great tidbit to know. Thanks, Bill.
Thanks for sharing. Informing everyone about bed bugs will help stop the spread. They are very tricky to get rid of but the more everyone knows the easier!
Our dog Nicki has been trained to detect the prescence of live bed bugs and viable eggs. The real estate community needs to educate themselves about this pandemic. The EPA used that word. Please visit our website for extensive informaion on the subject. There are links, videos and our credentials also.
Thanks for the information on bed bugs and the link to your site Andrew.