Bed Bugs

What are Bed Bugs?

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.

bed bug life cycle


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

  • 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 prevent 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.

Bed Bug Bites

Bites are typically the first warning sign of a bed bug problem, but not all bug bites are bedbugs. 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 also 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 at 413.559.5458. They should also contact the housing office at 413.559.5453 to begin an investigation into the problem.

Integrated Pest Management Program

To prevent the spread of bed bugs to other areas and rooms:

  1. Do not attempt to address the problem without first reporting it to the housing office and receiving guidance.
  2. Never discard or remove any bedding, clothing, furniture, or other College or personal belongings from the room.

Hampshire College will provide monitors and inspect the room and adjacent areas, as well as arrange for treatment as necessary. Requirements for laundering of personal items will be provided as recommended by our pest control contractor.

The College will also, after occupant relocation, arrange for treatment by a licensed pest control contractor. After the appropriate treatment, the College will:

  • 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.
  • Pay attention to backpacks, duffel bags, luggage, and other packaging containers; bed bugs are often found and transported on articles like this, as well as boxes and other storage-related containers
  • Look at personal items closely. Bed bugs like bedding, clothing, cushions, soft toys, stuffed animals, and throw pillows. Washing and drying these items (at high heat) wil help reduce the risks of an infestation.
  • When moving, traveling, or vacationing, make sure to inspect all items carefully before relocating to another site. When arriving at a new site, thoroughly evaluate the area for a potential bed bug problem.
    • Examine furniture and sleeping area.
    • Look around the mattress seam, especially at the head of the bed, and 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 towards controlling most pest problems, and this includes bed bugs. Report any poor housekeeping practices to the housing office as other pest-related problems are directly related to unsanitary conditions.
  • Maintain good housekeeping procedures such as changing sheets regularly, vacuuming bedding, furniture, and other items. Do not leave the bag in the vacuum; place it in a sealed, plastic bag to prevent unwanted guests from returning.

Five College Risk Management would like to thank Richard Mears and the Amherst College Department of Environmental Health and Safety for much of the information above.