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?
Apartments & Rental Units
If the problem is not addressed by your landlord, call your local building inspector. For the City of Madison: (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.
What are 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.
What are signs of bed bugs?
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.
What are bed bug bites like?
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.
How did I get bed bugs?
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.
How do I prevent bed bugs in my apartment or house?
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.
What should I do if I think I have bed bugs?
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.
What if I rent my apartment or house?
Ask your landlord to hire a pest control company.
Call your local building inspector.
- Call Public Health Madison & Dane County at (608) 242-6515.
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