Bed bugs are insects that seek and suck the blood of humans and animals. They generally bite their victims during the night by injecting a fluid that produces painful itchy welts that can lead to further skin complications.
Adult bugs are ¼ to ⅜ of an inch long with oval-shaped flat reddish-brown bodies that swell after feeding.
Nymphs are similar in shape as their adult parents but are a creamy white color.
Female bed bugs are nocturnal and will lay clusters of up to 50 eggs in bedding, cracks, and crevices of furniture and window fixtures. In ideal conditions, a female can lay as many as 250 eggs in her life cycle.
Eggs hatch in around 2 weeks into nymphs then immediately begin feeding on hosts just like their adult parents. Nymphs grow to maturity within 2 months to begin a new generation of the troublesome pest.
Infestations are noted when spots of blood begin to stain bedding and clothing.
The first defense in controlling bed bugs is to wash bedding, curtains, clothing, and any material items such as stuffed animals in hot water separate from other laundry.
Next, vacuum all cracks and crevices in the affected room to reduce the bed bugs, including around frames, floors, and moldings.
If infestations are high, seal off areas with a temporary barrier such as plastic to prevent the bed bugs from migrating to other areas of the home.
Placing the legs of the bed in containers of warm soapy water can prevent the bugs from crawling into the bed and biting. Spreading a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the legs can help prevent crawling as well.
Check bedding at night when bed bugs are most active, then remove and seal in an air-tight container for washing.
Repeated vacuuming and separate washings are necessary until bites and bloodstains are no longer present. This process can take a few days or months depending on the level of the bug's infestation.