Bed Bugs

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) has long been a pest – feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating their human hosts. Bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease. However, they can cause a number of problems, including emotional and economic distress from lack of sleep.

There are no state or local laws regarding the presence of bed bugs in rental property. There is no Springfield or Greene County law that forces property owners or landlords to take steps to remove bed bugs. Disputes about payments and responsibilities between renters and landlords are civil matters, not something the city or county has jurisdiction over.

If you are a renter with bed bugs, you have the following options:
  • Talk to your landlord. Make sure they understand the issue. See if they have a written policy on pest control. (This is a good question to ask if you’re moving into a new house or apartment, too.)
  • Contact a certified pest control agency to discuss options for mitigation. Heat treatments are typically the most effective.
  • If there is a structural issue with the building that you believe is allowing pests to enter your living area, you can contact the City’s Building Development Services Department at 864-1056 to find out if you can register a formal complaint.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the recent increase in bed bugs in the United States may be due to more travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides and ineffective pest control practices. There are ways to control bed bugs. Getting good, solid information is the first step in both prevention and control.

Preventing Bed Bugs
Bed bugs hitch rides in luggage, boxes, shoes and other mobile objects. They aren't tied to unsanitary living areas, so you can keep a clean house and still get them. You may have no idea they are present because they normally feed when you are sleeping.

Be thorough when buying used home items and if purchasing from rent-to-own stores. Before bringing these items home inspect each item thoroughly. Never take bedding or furniture that has been left on the curb for disposal.

When traveling, survey your hotel room for signs of bed bug infestations, such as red or dark brown spots on bed sheets. Lift the mattress, and other furniture items to look for bed bug hiding places. Elevate all luggage and personal items. Use racks to keep these items away from carpets and beds or place items in the bathtub. Examine all luggage and personal items before returning home to prevent bed bug migration.

Identifying Bed Bugs
Bites alone are not a very good method of confirming that you have bed bugs. It’s far better to check for the bugs themselves, which are perfectly visible to the naked eye if you know where to look. Adults are brown in color, although their bodies redden after feeding. Full-grown bed bugs move relatively slowly and measure between 4 to 5 mm, with newly hatched bugs being much smaller and white in color. When not feeding, bed bugs like to hide in the piping of mattresses or other small cracks and crevices in and around the bed.

The EPA’s website contains detailed information about identifying bed bugs. If you are bitten, there are a number of simple steps you can take to treat the bites.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
The best and most proven way to get rid of bed bugs is to kill them with high heat – temperatures of at least 113 degrees for at least one hour are necessary. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages. Put bedding and clothing in the dryer at high temperatures to kill bed bugs (just washing will generally not kill bed bugs).

Chemicals can be used but typically aren’t as effective. Additionally there are a number of things to keep in mind:
  • Never use a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use. It is very dangerous and won’t solve your bed bug problem.
  • Using the wrong pesticide or using it incorrectly to treat for bed bugs can make you sick, may not solve the problem, and could even make it worse by causing the bed bugs to hide where the pesticide won’t reach them.
  • Check if the product is effective against bedbugs – if a pest isn’t listed on the product label, the pesticide has not been tested on that pest and it may not be effective. Don’t use a product or allow a pest control operator to treat your home unless bed bugs are named on the product label.
  • Use the EPA's online product search tool if there’s any doubt.