Bed Bugs and Mattresses

Bed Bugs Frequently Asked Questions

What are bed bugs?

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is a small, nocturnal insect – feeding on blood and causing itchy bites on humans. The pests are reddish or brown in color, with a flat, oval shape body and an adult may grow to be the size of 4-7mm (about the size of Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny). Young bed bugs are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs are primarily active at night and will feed on humans when they are sleeping.

Adult Bed Bug After Feeding
Adult bed bug after feeding.

Where do bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs can come from a variety of locations. Most commonly, they are transported to people’s homes via clothing and/or luggage from hotels, motels and resorts, as well as many other high traffic sources including movie theaters, apartments, dormitories, parks and cabins.  Bed bugs are very successful hitchhikers, moving from an infested site to bedding, baggage, boxes, and clothing with ease.

Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs are very resilient and are capable of surviving over a year without feeding. Bites from bed bugs can be painless, but may become itchy later and can look like small reddish welts.

They do not have nests, but tend to live in hiding places that provide them easier access to people that they can feed from. Common hiding places in the home can be in mattresses, box springs, headboards, nightstands, baseboards and even in cracks in walls.

Baby Bug After Feeding
Baby bed bug feeding on a human.

How can you tell if you have bed bugs?

While bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, they generally only appear in dark conditions.  You may have been bitten by bed bugs if you wake up with itchy areas on your skin that you didn't have before falling asleep. You can spot a possible bed bug infestation by looking for the following indicators:

  • Dark spots which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and white
  • Skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger
  • Live bed bugs
  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed

Bed Bugs on a mattress
Bed bugs on a mattress.

Can bed bugs transmit disease?

Although they are a nuisance, bed bugs have not been found to transmit any human diseases.

How can I protect my mattress?

Consider encasing both the mattress and box spring in a protective cover like those used for allergy relief to eliminate access to your mattress by bed bugs.  Mattress encasements will seal the mattress and box spring, keeping bugs in the mattress trapped (where they will eventually die) while also keeping new bugs out. While an encasement will not keep bed bugs from crawling onto a bed and biting a sleeping person, it will be easier to spot and destroy any bugs residing on the outer surface during examination. Without an encasement, once a mattress becomes infested, you should consider replacing it since treating your bed and pillows with pesticides can be harmful.

Encasements for both mattresses and pillows specifically designed to help protect against bed bugs are available for purchase at any Sleep Train location.

Premium Mattress Protection Kit

Can I get bed bugs from a new mattress?

New mattresses are placed in a tightly sealed mattress bag immediately after being manufactured, creating an inhospitable environment for any living organism.  New mattresses are not removed from this bag until they have reached the customer's home.

What can I do to help prevent beg bug infestation?

Here are a few simple precautions that can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home:

  • Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation.
  • Use a protective cover to encase your mattress and box spring and eliminate a favored hiding place.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
  • When traveling:
    • In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
    • Check the mattress and headboard for signs of bed bug infestation before settling in.
    • Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.

What should I do if I suspect I have bed bugs?

Consult a professional pest control company.

Where can I find more information?

For more information on bed bugs please consult the following Websites.