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Bed Bugs

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is an insect that has various stages in  its  life cycle: eggs, five juvenile or nymphal stages, and adult males and females.  All stages feed on blood but they are not known to transmit any pathogens that cause diseases.  Once an infestation is established, bed bugs can be found anywhere in a room; not just on the bed. They don’t jump or fly but move around by crawling.

Bed bugs have a long history with humans and are found worldwide.   Bed bugs were eradicated in the US after World War II, but since the mid-1990’s, bed bugs have made a comeback due to many reasons including increased international and domestic travel and the used-furniture trade.

According to Cornell University, the best strategy to deal with bed bugs is integrated pest management (IPM), which combines a variety of practical or non-chemical techniques (e.g. vacuuming, removing clutter, steam) and chemical products that pose the lowest risk to human health and to the environment.

The list below is provided to help you direct your concerns about bed bugs to the proper authorities.

Location of Bed Bugs Contact Phone number
Hotels, motels Department of Health Services’
Office of Public Health Protection

Children’s camps Office of  Public Health Protection 852-5900
Schools Health and Safety Committee or School Superintendent Check local listings
Apartments/ multi-family homes Local town building departments Check local listings
Rehabilitation facilities or nursing homes New York State Department of Health 851 4300
Private Business Proprietor  
All others Department of Health Services’
Bed Bug Information Line
Leave a message and your call
will be returned as soon as possible.

If you believe you have bed bugs in your home, take the following steps:

  • Make sure that the insect you are seeing is a bed bug and not another insect that resembles a bed bug.  An adult bed bug looks like an apple seed with legs.
  • To preserve insects for identification, place them in a small container with rubbing alcohol, which also kills them.  Once bed bugs are confirmed to be present at a location, there should be a thorough investigation to determine the extent of the infestation.   If a bed bug infestation is identified, it is important to get rid of the bugs as quickly as possible.  The longer an infestation goes untreated, the harder it will be to eliminate.  To find out where to send the container,  contact Cornell Cooperative Extension or call 852-4999.
  • Try to find where bed bugs hide in the daytime by looking for black or brown spots of dried blood (insect feces), eggs, eggshells and cast skins in seams, tufts or folds of mattresses or daybed covers or crevices in bedsteads. In severe infestations, these may be found behind baseboards, window and door casings, picture frames and even in furniture. Severe infestations also may result in an offensive, sweet and musty odor.
  • Clean and remove clutter to eliminate bed bug shelters. Repair crevices in walls, window sills and along baseboards to prevent future invasions.
  • Vacuum with a brush attachment to loosen eggs and clean mattress covers.
  • Avoid using over-the-counter pesticides.
  • Contact a reputable control company that has experience in controlling bed bugs. For guidance with choosing a control company, please read “Selecting a Pest Management Professional.”
  • If you hire an expert for a serious infestation or multi-tenant situation, ask for an IPM approach.

An easy-to-follow guide for property owners, managers and tenants entitled "Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely" is available for downloading and printing on New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website.

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901