Environmental Health: 309-679-6161
Bed Bugs on the Rise
Bed bugs are on the rise in Illinois after a dramatic decline in the 1940s and 1950s. A couple reasons for the return are more world-wide travel and the fact that today’s insecticides, although safer for people, are less effective in killing these bugs. Bed bugs are small, flat insects, usually reddish-brown and up to ¼-inch long. Bed bugs most commonly enter hotels or residences by “hitch-hiking” on a suitcase or backpack, used furniture and clothing or other objects moved from one building to another. Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause an intense itch and scratching could produce secondary infections. To help reduce this problem, learn the signs of bed bug infestations, how the bugs spread, what you can do to prevent getting them and what to do if you find bed bugs.
To prevent getting bed bugs:
- Keep all beds pulled slightly away from walls, furniture, and curtains. Keep the floor under and around beds free of clutter.
- Change sheets and pillow cases weekly (wash in either hot water or machine dry at medium or high heat).
- Infested bedding and garments will need to be bagged and laundered (120° F minimum), or discarded since these items cannot be treated with insecticides. Items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be de-infested by heating for several minutes in a clothes dryer.
- Look for signs of bed bugs along the seams of the mattress in places you stay (hotels, motels) and keep your bags and luggage off the floor and bed.
- Inspect all used furniture carefully for bed bugs before bringing it into a home – do not scavenge furniture left on the street.
If there is a bed bug infestation:
- Vacuum infested areas (including mattresses and box springs) and dispose of the contents in a sealed garbage bag or trash container.
- Remove the pillows, sheets, blankets, mattress, and box springs and wash sheets and blankets. Dry blankets, sheets and pillows at medium or high heat.
- Pesticides can be applied directly into cracks and crevices harboring bed bugs. Hiring a licensed pest management professional may be preferable to doing it yourself because effective control requires experience, time and special pesticide application equipment. Do not apply pesticides to surfaces of mattresses, bedding or furniture that will come in contact with people. Pesticide applications should not be done unless bed bugs have been identified by a qualified specialist.
For more information on bedbugs, visit the EPA Bed Bug website. This site provides general information about bed bugs, such as preventing infestations, managing bed bugs, common myths, questions and answers, and also has links to other trusted resources.
Suggested Resource Information:
(Bed bugs are not known to transmit infectious diseases and are not considered a serious disease threat.)
Homeowners and Tenants:
Resources for Homeowners and Tenants:
Hotels (Lodging Industry):
Resources for Hotels:
(including information on where to look for bed bugs, cleaning procedures, how to control bed bugs, and the potential economic impact)
Group Homes and Shelters (Housing Industry):
Resources for Group Shelters:
Schools (Educational Institutions):
General Information for Parents and Students:
Resources for Schools:
Bed Bug Compared to Grains of Rice: www.in.gov/isdh/24955.htm
Bed Bugs Clustered on Mattress: www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/components/M1196.pdf
Bed Bug Bites: www.michigan.gov/documents/emergingdiseases/Bed_Bug_Manual_v1_full_reduce_326605_7.pdf
Bed Bugs on Backpack: www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/components/M1196.pdf