We give advice on controlling bed bugs and investigate reports of bed bug infestations in hotels, motels, and apartment and rental units.
- How do I report a bed bug problem?
- What are bed bugs?
- What are signs of bed bugs?
- What are bed bug bites like?
- How did I get bed bugs?
- How do I prevent bed bugs in my apartment or house?
- What should I do if I think I have bed bugs?
Apartments & Rental Units
Ask your landlord to hire a pest control company. If the problem is not addressed by your landlord, call your local building inspector. For the City of Madison Building Inspection Office: (608) 266-4551.
If there is no Building Inspector in your area, call us: (608) 242-6515.
Hotels & Motels
Call us: (608) 242-6515
Owner Occupied Home
Contact a Pest Control Company familiar with treating bed bugs.
- Bed bugs are small insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.
- They are oval with flat, rusty red colored bodies.
- Bed bugs cannot fly or jump.
- They are not a sign of poor hygiene or cleanliness. Anyone can be affected by them.
- Bed bugs hide in bedding, on mattresses and box springs, and in cracks and gaps in walls and furniture.
- Seeing bed bugs in the folds of mattresses and sheets.
- Finding rust-colored blood spots on mattresses, sheets, and furniture.
- Finding their exoskeletons after molting.
- Smelling a sweet musty odor.
- Bed bugs usually bite at night when people are sleeping.
- Bed bug bites are painless and usually don’t wake people.
- The bites can develop into large itchy spots on the skin. Some people may have an allergic reaction to bites. Some do not react at all.
- Scratching bites can cause infection.
- Bed bugs are not known to spread disease.
- Bed bugs are good at hiding. They can be brought into your apartment or house on luggage, used clothing, electronics, furniture, bedding, and other items that were once in an infested area.
- They can move from one infested apartment to another or if the apartment has not been properly treated.
- If you travel (in the US or internationally), stay or live in homeless shelters, hotels, youth hostels, dormitories, and group homes, you should take action to prevent bed bugs.
- Check used furniture before bringing it in your apartment or house. Look in the cracks and gaps with a flashlight for bed bugs.
- Cover used mattresses and box springs in a bed bug proof plastic case.
- Wash all used bedding, clothing, curtains, and other linens right away in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
- When traveling, inspect the room you’re staying in for bed bugs. When you get home, check luggage and other belongings before entering your house or apartment.
- It’s hard to get rid of bed bugs, but it can be done!
- If you think you have bed bugs:
- Look in the cracks and gaps in furniture, bedding, trim, window coverings, with a flashlight.
- Clean and remove clutter in infested areas to reduce hiding places.
- Carefully clean infested areas using a vacuum. Empty the vacuum immediately after use and get rid of the vacuum bag by putting it in a plastic bag and throwing it away.
- Seal mattress and box springs in bed bug proof plastic cases.
- Wash all bedding and linens in hot water and dry in hot dryer.
- Over the counter pesticides and aerosol foggers (bug bombs) don’t work and if used incorrectly, can cause chemical poisoning.
- The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to have a professional pest control company do it. Heat treatment combined with chemicals is the most effective way to control bed bugs.
- To treat a bite, avoid scratching the area. Talk to your health care provider if the bite has painful swelling or about taking medication. Over-the-counter treatments may include applying antiseptic creams or lotions and taking an antihistamine.
Information for Shelters
- Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities, Cornell University, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program