Bedbugs | Overview

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What are bedbugs?

Bedbugs are oval-shaped, wingless parasites that have 6 legs and are about 1/5 of an inch long. They range in color from white to brown, although they may look dark red after feeding. Bedbugs feed on blood during the night and hide during the day. They prefer to feed on human blood, but they will also feed on other mammals, such as dogs or cats.

Bedbugs can be a terrible nuisance, but they have not been shown to spread disease.

Where do bedbugs live?

Bedbugs live in dry, dark crevices, such as mattress seams. Because bedbugs feed at night, mattresses are an ideal place for them to live. But bedbugs don’t just live in mattresses. They can also live in crevices in your furniture, walls or floors and crawl into your bed at night.

Places such as hotels, apartments, dorms and shelters are more likely to be infested with bedbugs. This is probably because more people come and go in these places than they do in single-family homes. Bedbugs can travel from place to place on clothing and in luggage, secondhand furniture and used bedding.

Bedbugs are a growing problem in the United States. This may be partly because more people are traveling internationally and bringing bedbugs back in their luggage or on their clothes. Also, pesticides that got rid of bedbugs in the past have been replaced with milder chemicals that don’t harm bedbugs. This has allowed the bedbug population in the United States to grow.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 10/09

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