Skip to main content

Pests in Public Buildings and Private Residences: Bed Bugs

A collection of resources regarding pests that infest public buildings and private residences.

All About Bed Bugs



Bedbugs are small, reddish-brown parasitic insects that bite the exposed skin of sleeping humans and animals to feed on their blood. Although bedbugs aren't known to spread disease, they can cause other public health and economic issues.

About the size of an apple seed, bedbugs hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards, bed frames and any other objects around a bed. The risk of encountering bedbugs increases if you spend time in places with high turnovers of nighttime guests — such as hotels, hospitals or homeless shelters.; accessed February 1, 2020.




Bed Bugs in the Workplace

Bed bugs in the Workplace
It is becoming fairly commonplace to find bed bugs in public and private work places. Why? Bed bugs are small and they like to hide. Anyone could carry them into your building on their clothing, personal belongings and shoes. However there is no need to panic if you find them in your work place. Properly handled, the bed bugs can be eliminated with a minimum of disruption to your operations. Here is a strategy that you may want to consider adopting:
Know Some Basic Facts about Bed Bugs
  • Bed bugs don’t fly (they don’t have wings!)
  • Bed bugs cannot jump.
  • Bed bugs crawl fast.
  • Bed bugs are nocturnal insects, except in buildings where the carbon dioxide levels are at their highest during the day.
  • Bed bugs like to hide.
  • Bed bugs feed on human and animal blood.
  • Mature bed bugs can survive for at least a year without a blood meal.
  • Bed bugs are attracted to us by the heat and carbon dioxide that we produce.
  • Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease.


Identify Them

  • Even bed bug eggs and juveniles are visible. (A flashlight and magnifying glass make it easier to see them.)
  • Bed bugs are reddish brown and shaped like a
  • To see photographs of bed bugs and bed bug bites, visit
  • Bed bugs bites cause itchy welts in about 70% of the people who’ve been bitten. The welts typically occur in groups on exposed skin, but they look like other insect and spider bites. They can cause scars.



Survey the Premises

  • Train your staff to know what bed bugs look like and how to identify them.
  • Carefully inspect the area where the suspected bed bug was found as soon as you can.
  • Because bed bugs like to hide, it is important to know where to look for them: check the folds and seams in upholstery, lockers, baseboards, cubicle walls, furniture joints and corners, electrical outlets, switches, piles of papers and other nooks and crannies.


Respond To Your Findings: If you find more bed bugs…

  • Don’t kill them or crush them! It is impossible to make a positive identification from smashed bug parts!
  • Put the live bug(s) in a pill bottle or a tightly sealed plastic bag so that your pest management professional (PMP) can make a positive identification.
  • Try to isolate the area where the bug(s) were found.


Act Quickly

  • Contact your PMP immediately.
  • Once onsite, he should verify that you have bed bugs, and he should provide you with a treatment plan that explains the chemicals he will use, how he will apply them, if traps will be set, and when follow up inspections and treatments will be scheduled.
  • Treatment should not occur while people are in the area.
  • If you need help finding a PMP who has experience treating bed bugs, please refer to:


Protect Yourself And Your Employees

  • Staff and clients should not be in the area where the bug(s) were found, if possible.
  • Coats, purses and other personal belongings should be placed in a tightly sealed plastic bag, or a plastic container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Keeping a pair of shoes for use in the work place until the bed bugs are gone helps to prevent infestations in employees’ homes and cars
  • Reduce clutter if at all possible.
  • Advise staff to check their shoes and other clothing when they at the end of the day.
  • In high risk work places, consider installing a dryer on the premises for the employees to use.


Communicate with Your Staff and Customers

  • There are many things that you can do to reassure the people in your office.
  • Recognize that silence is your worst enemy because it leads to speculation, and speculation leads to distrust and panic.
  • Assure everyone that the bed bugs will be killed by a licensed pest management professional.
  • Define the area of the office that will be treated. Most people will assume that the entire building will be treated, but that is highly unlikely.
  • Explain to your staff that the chemicals that will be used are approved by USEPA and that they are considered safe when they are applied according to the label.
  • Avoid using the terms “infestation” or “infested.” A few bed bugs in one or two locations in your office is not an infestation, it is an occurrence.
  • Have copies of the material safety data sheets for the chemicals that will be used to kill the bed bugs available for you staff


Debunk the Misconceptions

  • When one or two bed bugs, are found, most people assume that there are many more in the building, which isn’t always the case.
    • Assure employees that bed bugs do not transmit disease.
    • Bed bugs are a pest, but they shouldn’t be a cause for panic. There is no need to suspend your operations, especially if the bed bugs were only found in a few isolated places.


What about an employee who has bed bugs at home?

  • Develop a plan for dealing with an employee who is living in a bed bug infested home.
  • Dealing with an employee who has bed bugs requires sensitivity. People feel ashamed that they have the bugs, and they are reluctant to talk about their problem with anyone.
  • Blaming or accusing the employee won’t solve the problem. Getting bed bugs is no one’s fault
  • Deciding whether to exclude the employee from the workplace is your decision. There are no health or OSHA guidelines that you can turn to for guidance.


Strategies to try

  • Discreetly speak with your employee, and…
  • Ask them to bring a change of clothing with them that had been dried and sealed in a plastic bag just before leaving home. Provide a place for them to change. A space without carpeting or upholstered furniture is preferred.
  • Have them place the clothing, coat, and shoes that they wore to work in a tightly sealed plastic bag or plastic container.
  • Encourage the employee to keep a pair of shoes in the workplace that they only wear at work.
  • The employee should be encouraged to bring as little as possible with them from home
  • If the person lives in rental housing, and the landlord refuses to treat their unit or building, refer them to this fact sheet on our website: Bed Bugs: Top Questions.



Bed bugs are a manageable problem! With a little education and a surveillance program, you can keep them from becoming a major disruption in your workplace.

From; accessed August 1, 2017.

Bed Bugs in Public Libraries

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite: Prevention and Treatment of Bed Bugs in Public Libraries

Six months after the introduction of one mated, female bed bug into a location, an infestation scenario could look something like this:

  • 121,409 nymphs
  • 7,848 adults
  • 169,490 bites

Other information to know:

  • Female bed bugs will lay between one and five eggs a day.
  • Eggs hatch in 6-15 days, depending on the temperature.
  • Each developmental stage lasts about 1 week.
  • Six weeks after hatching, a female could be ready to mate and start the cycle again.

 From; accessed August 1, 2017.


Bed Bugs and Other Bad News: An Opportunity for Media and Public Relations

"Problems in libraries, such as inappropriate behavior, leaks, and pests occur from time to time. Deciding when, what, and to whom to communicate this information is an essential part of the recovery process and can make the difference between acceptance and fear. Making a decision to communicate about any situation in an academic library can be based on similar principles for managing bad news in a corporate environment. For example, one common principle of media relations is to bring the story to the media rather than having the media come to you. Transparency and honesty are also cornerstones to turning a bad situation into one where the public is able to have compassion and begin to trust the organization."

From; accessed August 25, 2017.


Bed Bugs in Schools

Bed Bugs and Schools

On this page:
Health concerns
Bed bug fact sheets and other resources
Steps for success in dealing with bed bugs in schools