Invasion of the Bloodsuckers: Bedbugs and Beyond
Treatment Guidelines
This exhibit focuses on six blood-feeding species: the bedbug, flea, head louse, pubic louse, mosquito and tick. Information on treatment and prevention of infestation is provided. If you suspect that you or your home might be infested, please consult the appropriate medical, veterinary or pest management professionals.
Undetermined species.

  • Remove and wash all infested pet bedding and other items.
  • Treat infested areas with chemicals and then thoroughly vacuum to remove eggs, larvae and pupae.
  • Bathe the affected pet or person.
  • Check outside the house for other possible sources of fleas.
  • Vacuum every other day and wash bedding at least once a week until no traces of fleas remain to break the flea life cycle.
Cimex lectularius
Inflammation development two days after being bitten.

When you travel:
  • Inspect rooms for signs of bedbugs.
  • Elevate your belongings off the floor.
  • Inspect luggage carefully and treat or discard if you suspect bedbugs.
  • Immediately bag and launder clothing.

At home:
  • Avoid bringing curbside items into your house.
  • Never bring home used mattresses or box springs.
  • Launder clothing and dry in a hot air dryer.
Human head louse
Pediculus humanus capitis

  • Shampoo with available over-the-counter medications on the recommendation of a healthcare provider (lice have developed resistance to many chemical treatments).
  • Use a nit comb to physically remove nits (eggs) and lice. Although laborious, it is the least expensive way to do it yourself.
  • Clean all suspect objects and continue head checks every two or three days for two to three weeks, to be sure the lice are gone.
  • Because lice are physically transferred, notify or check all close contacts.
Pubic Louse
Human pubic louse
Pthirus pubis

  • Use available over-the-counter medications for treatment.
  • Wash all clothing and bedding used two to three days before infestation in hot water, or seal for two weeks in a plastic bag.
  • Use a nit comb to remove eggs and be sure to check facial hair (eyelashes, eyebrows and beards).
  • Because lice are physically transferred, notify or check all close contacts.
Deer tick, Ixodes scapularis
Life cycle stages—adult and nymphs compared with straight pin.

Minimize your exposure to ticks:
  • Avoid wooded and grassy areas.
  • Apply a repellent with DEET or permethrin to clothing and wear long- sleeve shirts, long pants and socks.
  • Check pets regularly and give them tick collars.
  • Inspect yourself and your clothes carefully after outdoor activities.
  • Shower within two hours to reduce the risk of being bitten.

Modify the environment around your home:
  • Create recreational areas away from shrubs, tall grass and wooded areas.
  • Remove vegetation that attracts deer.
  • Apply a pesticide to high-risk areas.
Northern house mosquito
Culex pipiens
Female laying raft of eggs.

Control mosquito populations:
  • Eliminate containers that catch and hold standing water.
  • Drain pools and ditches; clean roof gutters.
  • Replace water in birdbaths and wading pools weekly.
  • Aerate small ponds and ornamental pools.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
  • Wear light-color, loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors.
  • Avoid being outdoors at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use repellents with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus (consult a healthcare provider about safe amounts for children).