Bedbugs bite the exposed skin of sleeping humans to feed on their blood. Decades ago, bedbugs were eradicated from most developed nations using DDT — a pesticide that's since been banned because it's so toxic.
Spurred perhaps by increases in international travel, bedbugs are becoming a problem once again. The risk of encountering bedbugs increases if you spend time in places with high turnovers of nighttime guests — such as hotels, hospitals or homeless shelters.
Bedbugs are reddish brown, oval and flat, about the size of an apple seed. During the day, they hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and bed frames. If you have bedbugs in your home, professional extermination is recommended.
Feb. 16, 2012
- Joint statement on bed bug control in the United States from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). National Center for Environmental Health. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/publications/bed_bugs_cdc-epa_statement.htm. Accessed Dec. 7, 2011.
- Eiston DM, et al. Bedbugs. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 7, 2011.
- Bed bug information. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/bedbugs. Accessed Dec. 7, 2011.