The District does NOT provide pest control services for bed bugs. However, educational materials and advice are available.
About Bed Bugs
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are a serious problem worldwide due to their resistance to insecticides and their tendency to hitchhike to new locations through luggage, clothing, and furniture. They can be found in apartment complexes, college dormitories, shelters, hotels, moving vans, and residences. Their populations can spread dramatically when individuals move their infested furnishings from one location to another. Bed bug infestations are extremely difficult to control because they hide in the smallest of cracks, crevices, furniture seams, and even in alarm clocks and radios. They also inhabit spaces between walls and can crawl from room to room.
Oval, Flat, and Wingless
Bed bugs are small oval shaped insects that are brown in color. They are about the depth of a credit card, wingless, and about 5 millimeters (about 13/64 of an inch) in size. If a crack will hold a credit card, it could also hide a bed bug.
Need Blood Meals
Bed bugs need blood meals to be able to grow and lay eggs. They prefer to feed on humans but will feed on other mammals and birds. After a blood meal, female bed bug can lay 1-7 eggs per day for a period of 10 days. Newly hatched bed bugs called nymphs, hatch from the eggs about 10 days after the eggs are laid. Nymphs go through five stages over a period of 2-4 months. Each stage of bed bugs requires a blood meal for development. Although bed bugs need blood meals for their development, they can survive many months without a blood meal. Bed bugs can live anywhere between six months to a year depending on the environmental conditions and food availability.
Active During the Night
Bed bugs (highlighted in red) are highly active during the night and tend to hide in cracks and crevices during the day. While feeding, bed bugs leave small blood stains on bedsheets (highlighted in yellow), mattresses, and/or clothing. They also leave fecal droppings and eggs along within the seams and tufts of mattresses, box springs, pillows, upholstered furniture, and along baseboards. They will readily travel 5-20 feet from established hiding places in order to feed on host. Feeding can take anywhere between 3-12 minutes.
Public Health Concern
Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases; however, they can cause sleeplessness aggravate respiratory conditions, cause psychological distress, and produce itchy welts. A bed bug bite is painless, and in some cases may not produce reactions. For others the bite site may become extremely itchy and last for days or weeks. Scratching bed bug bites can lead to secondary infections.
Bed bug infestations can be extremely difficult and challenging to manage. It is important to take preventative measures to help minimize the risk of bed bug infestations.
Do not bring bed frames, mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture found on the sidewalks into your home.
Inspect all used or rental furniture thoroughly before bringing them home.
While traveling, inspect mattresses, headboards, end tables, drawer joints, electrical receptacles, appliances, loose wallpaper, wall hangings, at the junction where wall and ceiling meet, in the head of screws, and look for blood spots/droppings.
- Do not put your clothes in dresser drawers or luggage on the spare bed or floor.
- Before leaving check your suitcase and belongings carefully for live bed bugs.
If you think you have been exposed to bed bugs, after arriving home, wash and dry your clothes on the hottest setting or take your clothing to a dry cleaner.
Seal all cracks and crevices in bedrooms with caulking to prevent bed bugs from entering from another room.
When cleaning, changing bedding, or traveling, look for eggs and eggshells that are about 1mm (about 3/64 of an inch) in size and look for pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow.
Seek Professional Help
You should never attempt to control a bed bug problem by yourself. In order to successfully eradicate a bed bug infestation, an integrated treatment is needed. Applying insecticides to control a bed bug infestation should be done by a trained and licensed pest control professional. You should expect a complete eradication from a pest control service provider.
The essential components of bed bug prevention and control include:
- Identification of bed bug infestations
- Utilizing the best available bed bug treatment strategies and prevention measures
- Collaboration between tenant, landlord, and pest control service provider
- Ongoing monitoring is necessary before, during, and after treatment to ensure infestation is completely eradicated
Infestations in apartment complexes, condominiums, senior centers, or nursing homes should be reported to the property owner or management immediately.
How the District Can Help
If you need help identifying a specimen, the District provides free insect identification. You may drop off your sample at our District office or email a photo of the specimen to [email protected]. Live samples are preferred. The District also provides sticky monitoring traps at no charge.
Upon confirming specimen is a bed bug, we provide a letter that reports presence of a bed bug infestation. This letter can be presented to your property manager or your local Code Enforcement agency for further action. Links to Code Enforcement agencies within Santa Clara County can be found in the Related Links section below.
The public can request a consultation with one of our Vector professionals, who will help provide information such as what the reporting party can do on their end to abate the problem.