Bed Bug


Actual size: Less than 6 mm

Characteristics: Oval, flat and mahogany brown to reddish-brown.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Habitat: Single-family homes, apartments, hotels, hospitals, schools and college campuses, office buildings, retail stores, movie theaters, and even public transportation.


  • Typically found in sleeping areas and small cracks and crevices.
  • Nocturnal parasites feed exclusively on humans and mammals.
  • Their bites are painless and may go unnoticed as people react to bites differently.

Bed Bugs in Iowa

Bed bugs are small, brownish, flattened insects that feed solely on the blood of animals. Found throughout Des Moines and Central Iowa, bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the daytime, bed bugs prefer to hide close to where people sleep. Humans serve as their primary host, however,  they also feed on birds and mammals. These insects are secretive and remain well hidden in cracks and crevices located in places where they are not likely to be disturbed.  Bites from bed bugs are essentially painless, so they are rarely detected at the time of feeding activity.

Bed Bug Habitat

Bed bugs live in groups and occupy areas where humans sleep or rest for long periods of time. These blood-sucking pests are efficient hitchhikers and are usually transported into dwellings on luggage, clothing, beds, furniture, and other items.  They conceal themselves in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, bedding, furniture, and anywhere they can hide. These pests favor cracks, crevices, or seams in headboards, mattresses, luggage, backpacks, and upholstered furniture. Once bed bugs are introduced, they can crawl from room to room and from bedding to drapes or furniture. 

Bed Bug Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Although they do not spread disease and are not considered dangerous, the bites from bed bugs can cause allergic reactions. The first sign of a bed bug infestation is typical bites on the skin or the appearance of small brownish dots on the bed. Bed bugs gain access to people through bedding and used furniture, luggage, or other objects that move from place to place, or through pipes shared by neighboring apartments or hotel rooms. Bites from bed bugs may be undetected on people who have been bitten, and as a result, questionable welt-like swelling may occur. Bed bugs are resilient, so if an infestation is suspected, it is recommended to consult a professional bed bug exterminator.