City, Town & Village Governments
New York State Government
U.S. Government

Nassau County Bed Bug Task Force

Breadcrumb Start you are here >Home/FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Bed Bug feeding facing camera

How do I find out if I have bed bugs?
You need to keep an eye out for all the stages of bed bugs: eggs, nymphs and adults. Also, keep a close eye for cast skins and blood spots, keeping in mind that blood spots, hatched eggs and cast skins may be from a previous infestation that had already been dealt with. Bed bugs that are up and moving are the only confirming evidence of an infestation. Use a flashlight when searching for them, even in well-lit areas, and work systematically. A magnifying glass will help you zoom in on hard to see spots.

Search the bed. Make sure to start with the corner of your mattress and work around the piping, down the sides and underneath. Do the same thing with your box spring. Remove the dust cover from the bottom of the box spring and immediately seal it in a trash bag. After that, check out the bed frame. If you’re able to take it apart, do it. Bed bugs can be hiding in the joints.

But, remember, bed bugs don’t always hide in the bed. Look around the walls in your room. Look through the curtains, under loose pieces of wallpaper, the corners and drawers of desks and dressers, behind the door, window and baseboards, and in laundry or other things that are on the floor or around the room. Inspect everything.

How did I get bed bugs in the first place?
Bed bugs can hide away in luggage while away on a trip. They could be hiding away in furniture, clothing, pillows and boxes when these are moved into living areas. Moving out of an infested room will NOT solve the problem, since the bedbugs will just come along. Used furniture, particularly bed frames and mattresses, are most likely to harbor bed bugs. Keep and eye out for items found on the curb. The source of the infestation determines where your inspection should start. Look through these scenarios and see which fits:

  • A traveler returned home: insects can hide in luggage and then crawl out when it’s dark and peaceful—begin where luggage was placed upon returning home.
  • A used bed or piece of furniture (bought or from the curb) was brought into the house: inspect it first.
  • The problem began after a visitor stayed overnight: inspect the beds that they slept in and where their luggage was placed.

An infestation persists after several treatments by a professional: bed bugs may come through the wall from a neighboring apartment. Inspect rooms that share a wall with a neighbor. (This scenario happens in large apartment complexes and hotels where management didn’t get adjacent rooms treated.)

Can I prevent bed bugs with insecticides?
The IPM strongly discourages the method of continuous spraying of insecticide. Bed bugs DO NOT spread disease, but there are risks associated with insecticides. Alternatively, be sure to inspect and clean your living area regularly, keeping in mind all possible hiding spots.

Will bed bugs actually travel on me?
It’s unlikely that a bed bug would travel on you or the clothes you are wearing. You move too much to be a good hiding place. Bed bugs are more likely to be spread via luggage, backpacks, briefcases, mattresses, and used furniture.

What shouldn’t I do when trying to eliminate bed bugs?
First thing, DON’T PANIC! Bed bugs can be a nuisance but you can get rid of them if you handle the infestation appropriately.

DO NOT coat the legs of the bed frame in kerosene or petroleum jelly. Bed bugs will climb on the ceiling and drop down onto the bed. Plus, kerosene is a fire hazard!

Thyme oil is also not an adequate solution. In fact, it may even spread, not fix, the problem.

Don’t turn up the heat. This could damage furniture and other personal belongings. It’s true that high levels of heat (120 ºF) for an hour will kill all life stages of the bed bug—but leave it up to the professionals, who will be able to isolate the needed areas and apply the heat appropriately.

Don’t sleep with a light on. It’s true that bed bugs like the dark, and they wait until their host is inactive to feed; so it’s likely they’ll come out when you’re sleeping. But these bugs will feed when the light is on if they’re hungry enough.
Don’t sleep in a different room. This won’t solve the problem. Not only can bed bugs move from place to place if they need food, but if you move to a different room, you may also inadvertently carry the bugs with you. They can live for months between meals, so it’s no use trying to hide from them. Keep sleeping in your bed, but contact a pest professional.

Don’t throw a bed bug-infested mattress away and buy a new mattress. Bed bugs hide in more than just mattresses (sheets, box springs, headboards). Buying a new mattress won’t solve the problem. If you need a new mattress, wait until the infestation has been eliminated before purchasing a new one. Don’t leave your old infested mattress out on the street for someone else to pick up and bring into their home. (Remember: A bed bug-proof mattress and box-spring encasement kept in place for 1 ½ years will starve them to death. Inspect often for torn spots in the encasement (and evidence of bed bugs).

Don’t dispose of good furniture; if it’s infested it can be cleaned and treated. If you decide to dispose of infested furniture, be sure that it is taken to a dumpster, landfill or waste facility immediately.

Don’t wrap items in black plastic and leave them in the sun: This won’t be hot enough to kill the bugs, nor will the heat be distributed evenly.

Items must be wrapped in plastic or put into appropriate sealed bags before being moved out of the infested room. Bed Bugs or their eggs could be transferred to another area if not properly sealed.

Don’t apply insecticides unless you fully understand what you are applying and the risks involved. You are legally liable if you misapply an insecticide or apply it without a license to the property of others—including common spaces in apartment buildings. In most cases, landlords, owners and building managers cannot legally apply insecticides unless they are licensed to do so.

What do I do with my pets if I have bed bugs?
While it’s true that bed bugs have been known to feed on pets, it’s unknown whether they prefer them to humans. Pets can transfer the bugs from place to place just like people do, however the bugs will not live on the bodies of the animals.
Twenty minutes of grooming outside should be all it takes to rid your pet of any possible bed bugs. All bedding and cage items should be inspected and washed and dried (60 minutes on hot) or frozen (for 2 weeks). Furniture, floors, and walls near the pets’ areas must also be inspected.

bed bug feeding

Are bed bugs large enough for us to see without a microscope?
Yes; Bed bugs are small, but they’re still large enough to see with the naked eye. It helps to know they’re features so you can distinguish them from other bugs.

Are bed bugs a sign of poor sanitation or hygiene?
No, they are not caused by bad housekeeping or a sign of un-cleanliness. Even the best housekeeper can have a bed bug problem, however clutter can greatly interfere with control efforts.

Do bites always occur 3 in a row?
No, this is a myth, but their bites very often occur in rows or groups and resemble bites from other insects and anthropods, however there are no red spot at the center like with bites from fleas and black flies.

Will a bug bomb get rid of them?
Do NOT use “bug bombs’” against bed bugs. Only a few bugs will be killed and it would cause the bugs to scatter.

Who is responsible for a bed bug infestation in a condo/apartment complex? Are there legal repercussions to these infestations?
There is no clear-cut answer about who is responsible for a bed bug infestation. It’s hard to determine who’s at fault because there are so many different ways, and point of origins, for which an infestation can occur. Landlords and property owners have legal obligations to provide habitable living environments for their residents, and in turn tenants are responsible for readying their own living areas for pest control professionals.

Applying insecticides without a license is illegal, especially when done to the property of others; landlords or property managers can do so if licensed.

Local health departments and law offices will give you the best up-to-date information on the laws regarding the legal issues that landlords and tenants face on this matter.

Ensure that bed bug maintenance is specified on your lease, and that the roles for both tenant and landlord are outlined clearly. Inspection must be done routinely by the building manager, with the permission of the tenant.

moving bed bug

Did you know that a female bed bug may lay 200-400 eggs, but they need a blood meal before laying the eggs?