Environmental Health & Safety

Bed Bug Recognition and Treatment Program

bed-bug copy

November 2011

Bed Bug Description

Bed Bugs are temperature sensitive, wingless blood-feeding insects that are found all over the world, including the United States. Initially they begin life as a small but visible egg, about the size of a poppy seed. From that point they feed on blood and grow into juvenile or “nymph” stage bugs. As they develop into adults, brown or red (fed) bed bugs become about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs can live up to 20 months and could go without a blood meal for 1 ½ years. The female bed bug can lay over 500 eggs in her life time, which hatch in about 10 days, given the right temperatures.

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It is believed that bed bugs do not transmit disease. However, they can cause an allergic skin reaction and bacterial infection from scratching.

Other Bed Bug Facts
  • Bed bugs can travel over 100' in a single night, but tend to stay within 8' of where a person sleeps.
  • When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the actual bite.
  • Bed bugs feed rapidly, becoming full in less than 10 minutes.
  • Bed bugs may also relocate a short distance when the person moves, which may explain the "bites in a straight line"
  • Bites from a bed bug can take up to 14 days to develop on the person receiving bites.

If discovered early, bed bugs can be effectively managed.

Bites are typically the first warning sign of a bed bug problem, but not all bug bites are bedbugs. Since 1998, Amherst College has had only two bed bug incidents, in each case they were confined to a single room. Like most bed bug problems, these two incidents occured because they were transferred to one site from another in personal belongings such as back packs, bedding, clothing and suitcases.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites, unlike bites that you might get from a gnat, mosquito, no-see-um or similar insect typically present with several bites, usually in a straight row on the arms, legs, neck or torso. Bed bugs tend to gather together in hidden, undisturbed places where a person sits or sleeps.

  • Bed bugs are usually found on the bed, along the seams and sides of the mattress and box springs, on the headboard, and the bed frame.
    • When assessing a bed or furniture for the possibility of bed bugs, we look for clusters of live bugs, shedding skins, dark colored fecal spots and the eggs. We look for blood spotting on the bed linens, where the bed bugs bite the host
  • Bed bugs are also known to hide in cracks, such as in baseboards along the floor at the wall.

Bed Bug Bite Reporting

Persons who think they have bites from bed bugs should seek medical attention at: 
  • Health Services  (413) 542-2266, and
  • Contact Environmental Health and Safety at (413) 542-2254 (days) or (413) 542-2291 (nights/weekends)

Integrated Pest Management Program

  • To prevent the spread of bed bugs to other areas and rooms, do notattempt to address the problem without the assistance of  the Amherst College Custodial Department, Dean of Students Office, Environmental Health & Safety and Health Services.
    • Never discard or remove any bedding, clothing, furniture or other College or personal belongings from the room
      • Amherst College will conduct an aggressive site inspection of the room and adjacent areas, arrange for proper separation and/or disposal of the room contents, including, but not limited to; bedding, clothing, curtains, drapes, furniture, stuffed animals, towels etc.
        • These items will be laundered or heat treated as recommended by our pest control service.
    • The College will , after occupant relocation, treat the area or room using heat, steam or an environmentally-friendly product, applied by a licensed applicator.
      • After chemical or heat-treatment, as specified by the pest management company, the College shall;
        • aggressively HEPA vacuum the flooring, furniture and other immovable objects within the room
        • replace or cover the mattress
        • re-treat the area, as needed
        • repair ceilings, floors and walls by sealing cracks and other similar deficiencies

Bed Bug Control Procedures

  • Never take bedding, clothing, furniture or other similar items off the street, out of corridors, from storage or any other place where the potential for bed bugs might exist.
    • Be sure that the items are clean and pest-free.
      • If you are not 100% sure…..don’t take it
  • Pay attention to backpacks, duffel bags, luggage and other packaging containers.
    • Bed bugs are often found and transported on articles like this, in addition to boxes and other storage related containers
  • Look at personal items closely.
    • Bed bugs like bedding, clothing, cushions, soft toys, stuffed animals and throw pillows
      • For these items, washing and drying in high heat (or a couple of drying cycles) will help to reduce the potential problem
  • When moving, traveling or vacationing...
    • Make sure a bed bug problem is not being spread.
      • Inspect all belongings, including luggage very carefully before relocating to another site
    • When arriving at a new destination, thoroughly evaluate the site for a potential bed bug problem by checking the areas referenced above.
  • In hotels and other residence type occupancies, (yes… dormitories too)
    • Examine furniture and sleeping areas before going to bed
      • Look around the mattress seam, most notably at the head of the bed, then along the sides.
      • Do you see spots, or what appears to be a moving brown or red apple seed?
        • Are there blood spots on the sheets?
  • Housekeeping is essential to help control pest related problems, like bed bugs.
    • Before placing clothing and other items into suitcases etc., examine the container or package
    • Vacuum, preferably with a HEPA filtered vacuum the entire container paying lots of attention to inside pockets and seams
    • Aggressively vacuum bedding, furniture and other items, like those referenced above.
      • Do not leave the bag in the vacuum.
        • It should be placed into a plastic bag and sealed/taped to prevent the unwanted guests from returning
    • Although poor housekeeping practices do not create a bed bug infestation problem, poor housekeeping can mask the concern and make it difficult to identify and eradicate the issue.
      • Report all poor housekeeping practices to the Amherst College Custodial Department and/or Environmental Health & Safety, as other pest related problems are directly related to unsanitary conditions.