Bed Bugs: Frequently Asked Questions
The following information addresses basic characteristics of bed bugs, as well as questions regarding bed bugs being found in public libraries or library materials.
About Bed Bugs
What Do Bed Bugs look like and where are they found?
Adult bed bugs are about the same size and color as an apple seed. They tend to frequent themselves around areas where people sleep, living in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dressers, bedside tables or in cracks of walls. They tend to be nocturnal and usually stay within 8 feet of the area in which people sleep. They tend to prefer fabric and wood over metal or plastic, but are capable of squeezing into any small crevice they can find, when necessary.
How Bed Bugs Travel
Bed bugs like to stay hidden during the day and are unlikely to jump or crawl onto a person unnecessarily. But they can hide in items such as backpacks, jackets, books and other materials, making it easy for them to travel between various locations. It also makes them equal opportunity pests. Bed bugs are usually brought into a home or building by hitching a ride with an unsuspecting guest. They do not indicate a lack of cleanliness on the part of the home owner or establishment.
Are Bed Bugs a Health Risk?
Bed bugs are not known to carry disease, but because their presence often causes itching they are an annoyance and can be difficult to get rid of if an infestation sets in. A bed bug bite can affect people differently. Some people do not have any reaction to their bites. Others may develop itchy bumps that may take up to 2 weeks to appear after being bitten.
What are the Signs of Bed Bugs?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find the bug or signs of infestation. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. Bite marks may appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. If you suspect you have been bitten by a bed bug, watch for the following signs in your home:
The bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting.
Bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets.
Rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture.
A sweet musty odor.
How to Minimize the Risk of Bed Bug Exposure
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. When visiting public places, including libraries, it is recommended that you keep bags and other personal items off the floor and refrain from wearing clothing that might drag across carpeted areas.
Bed Bugs in Libraries
1. Has the Monroe County Library System had any encounters with bed bugs?
Yes. A small number were discovered returned in a set of DVDs to the L.S. Navarre Branch Library. The branch was closed and evaluated by pest control professionals. After treatment, the branch was reinspected by the pest control company as well as Monroe County's Environmental Health Department and was officially cleared for public use. The Monroe County Library System is grateful that the incident was isolated to a small portion of the Navarre collection. Library staff has proven vigilant in their handling of materials and will continue to monitor all branch collections.
2. I have books from the Library, should I be concerned?
3. Will the Library close if bed bugs are found?
4. How do I minimize my risk of bed bug exposure?
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. When visiting public places, including libraries, it is recommended that you keep bags and other personal items off the floor or soft fabric covered furniture, and refrain from wearing clothing that might drag across carpeted areas. It is also recommended to ask questions and educate yourself as much as possible. The Library has always been a source of reliable information and will continue to serve this role during this time. We encourage you to ask questions and stay informed, and we invite you to participate in honest conversation with us regarding the situation.
5. What to do if you find evidence of affected Library Materials?
The Library recommends that if you believe you have found signs of a bed bug or eggs in a library item, please seal the item in a sealable plastic bag and notify the branch from which you received it. Please return the sealed plastic bag directly to a staff person—do not put the item in a drop box. Do not attempt to treat library materials on your own by placing them in the microwave or oven. There is a metal RFID tag in the items that will spark and start a fire. Do not spray library materials with pesticides.
6. Can I ask staff for information or updates about the situation?
The staff of the Monroe County Library System is always available to contact. We will answer your questions as honestly as possible and listen to your concerns and suggestions. Please feel free to contact your local branch or fill out a contact form online any time.