Bedbug Update

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 5:19am

News and Tips on Preventing and Treating an Infestation

The numbers of reported bedbug problems has steadily increased throughout the United States over the past decade. As demonstrated by recent media coverage, the City of Madison and other Dane County communities are no exception to this trend. Due to this continuing public health challenge, Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) has made efforts to improve the prevention and control of bedbugs part of our ongoing health promotion activities . However, the treatment of bedbug infestations, when performed incorrectly, could lead to potentially dangerous consequences. This situation was the main focus of a recent health advisory released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerning the overuse and inappropriate use of pesticides to eliminate bedbug activity.

To reduce the bedbug risk in our community, the following information provides general information about bedbugs and lists effective methods of prevention and control of these insects.

Bedbugs are small reddish brown insects that feed solely on the blood of people and other animals and birds. The flat bodies of the insect allows them to fit into tiny cracks and crevices throughout the infested area but they are most often found in bedding, mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dressers, and nightstands. The presence of bedbugs is not sign of poor hygiene or cleanliness but a demonstration of the insect's talent to efficiently travel between locations by hitching a ride on clothing, luggage, furniture, and other items.

Bedbugs are most active during the night and feed on people as they sleep; biting exposed areas of skin such the face, neck, arms, legs, back, and shoulders. Typically, people bitten by bedbugs develop an itchy red welt and may experience swelling of the bite; this reaction may lead to additional symptoms including anxiety, sleeplessness, and/or secondary infections. Other individuals have little to no symptoms. Although bedbugs are considered a public health nuisance, the bites of the insect are not known to transmit disease to humans.

The spread of bedbugs is difficult to prevent, especially in apartments and hotels where there is frequent turn-over of occupants, but there are actions that can be taken by homeowners, property owners, and renters to reduce the risk of bedbug infestations and the treatment of bedbugs if they do manage to enter into your home. These include the following:

• Check luggage and clothes when returning from a trip
• Avoid the purchase of second hand clothing, mattresses, and furniture without inspecting them for bedbugs.
• Clothing and other fabric items purchased at a yard sale or consignment shop should be run through the washer and dryer before being stored in your home.
• Reduce clutter in the home and seal cracks and crevices where bedbugs can hide

• Thoroughly clean the infested areas, bedding, and clothing. Use hot water and hot dryer on items that can be put in a washing machine
• Enclose mattress, box spring, and possibly pillows in plastic covers
• Place a piece of 2-sided tape or glue board (glue trap) under the legs of the bed) to create a barrier between the bed and the floor
• Pull the bed away from the wall
• Hire an experienced pest control professional
• If you choose to apply pesticides in your home, ensure that they are approved for indoor use, are effective against bedbugs, and are US EPA-approved. See this link for details. ( During application, accurately follow all label instructions to avoid dangerous levels of the pesticide that may poison people and damage household materials.
? DO NOT USE BLEACH in areas where you have treated your home with pesticide. The reaction may produce a more toxic form of the pesticide that could lead to harmful exposures to individuals that come in contact with the treated area.

Additional information about bedbugs and treatment guidance is available from the following sources:


If you have questions or want to learn more about bedbugs, please call Public Health Madison and Dane County at (608) 266-4821.


Public Health - Madison & Dane County


  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302