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Bed Bugs Questions and Answers

  1. How serious is the bed bug problem for U.S. homeowners in the cities most affected?
  2. What are the key things people can do to manage bed bugs?
  3. What options do homeowners have to address the bed bug problem?
  4. What is EPA doing with agencies like CDC to address this problem?
  5. What recommendations would you offer homeowners to prevent or minimize the risk of having bed bugs at home?

  1. How serious is the bed bug problem for U.S. homeowners in the cities most affected?

    Bed bugs have increased dramatically as a public health pest throughout the country. While bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, they can cause stress, discomfort, and sores. Experts suspect the resurgence is associated with greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding the complex measures needed to prevent and control bed bugs due to their prolonged absence, and increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides. EPA believes there is a need to redevelop expertise in the pest control community to ensure the control tactics are multifaceted and comprehensive.

  2. What are the key things people can do to manage bed bugs?

    We strongly encourage people follow the tips below about basic precautions that can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home. Here are some highlights:

    • Vigilant monitoring, including a check of secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation.
    • Prevention and control by removing clutter where bed bugs hide, sealing cracks to eliminate habitat, encasing mattresses/box springs, and checking luggage when returning from a trip.
    • Nonchemical treatment, e.g., vacuuming, heat treatment of clothing, bedding and furniture.
    • Pesticide treatment with products explicitly labeled for use to control bed bugs and by carefully following label directions.

      EPA wants the public to be especially aware of the following:

    • Never use, or allow anyone to use, a pesticide indoors that is intended for outdoor use. It can make you and your family sick and damage your property.
    • Don’t use a product or allow a pest control operator to treat your home unless bed bugs are named on the product label.
    • Before using any pesticide, READ and FOLLOW the LABEL DIRECTIONS.


  3. What options do homeowners have to address the bed bug problem?

    There is no one single treatment or technique that is effective. Bed bugs can be controlled by using a suite of the available techniques, including prevention, monitoring, proper use of pesticides, and other integrated pest management techniques.

    In the short term, EPA believes that the registered pesticides can provide effective control if used properly. To help you find a registered product, EPA has developed a Bed Bug Product Search tool to help you find a product that meets your needs. For effective bed bug control over the longer term, prevention, monitoring, and integrated pest management techniques should be used as well.

  4. What is EPA doing with agencies like CDC to address this problem?

    We are collaborating with our federal partners (including CDC, HUD, DOD, USDA and others), as well as working with state and local agencies, to better understand the issues and find solutions. We have fostered the creation of a federal interagency taskforce to foster communications and efficient use of resources across federal government to find more effective solutions to prevent and control bed bugs.

    We are working closely with USDA to identify potential existing compounds for bed bug control, and we are encouraging researchers and pesticide registrants to develop new tools.

    EPA is committed to giving any application for a new pesticide proposed for bed bug control expedited review and consideration.

    EPA and CDC also issued a joint statement on bed bug control.

  5. What recommendations would you offer homeowners to prevent or minimize the risk of having bed bugs at home?

    There are many methods to effectively prevent and manage infestations of bed bugs. For example, when traveling, use luggage racks to hold your luggage and do not place your luggage on the bed or floor. Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine using hot water, and inspect your luggage carefully. To manage infestations, learn about the signs of bed bugs and carefully inspect mattresses and other fabrics for the presence of bed bugs. If discovered, control should be immediately pursued by removing clutter where bed bugs hide, sealing cracks, encasing mattresses, vacuuming, heat treatments, and the careful use of pesticide products explicitly approved for bed bugs.

    There are over 300 different products registered by EPA for use against bed bugs, and as always, pesticides must be used consistent with the label directions. Another option is to consult a pest management professional as soon as possible to inspect your residence, take apart furniture, if necessary, and use high powered vacuums, heat, and approved pesticides to treat the infestation.

  6. Back to the Bed Bug main page

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