by nobugsonme on April 19, 2007 · 9 comments

This is a glossary of some terms you might see on

bed bug blame game: the rush to blame one party as being “responsible” for an infestation in a particular location (building, workplace, school, etc.). Many rush to blame themselves or others that are the first to see, or to react allergically to, or to report bed bugs. But if one is the first person in a building to react to bites, or see an actual bed bug, this does not mean one brought bed bugs in. Bed bugs infest places, not people. Since they are difficult to see, and many people do not react to them (no itching, no bite marks), and we never know exactly how long we have had them, finding the true “starting point” of an infestation is difficult. See here for an example of the blame game in action. Besides being very difficult or even impossible to prove, being blamed for bringing bed bugs in has real and serious consequences. Employees have been fired, tenants have been made to pay for bed bug treatment for neighbors and landlords, and landlords have at least attempted to evict tenants. We have seen people rush to blame themselves under various circumstances, only later to find evidence others brought bed bugs in.

adults: fully grown bed bugs, see life cycle photo here

everyone suffering from bed bug bites, anywhere, but especially the readers and writers of our big, diverse, community

bites: bed bug bites

“bites”: marks that look like bed bug bites, but source is not certain; sometimes associated with ‘lingering sensations,’ and sometimes called ‘phantom bites.’ Refers to marks on the skin that look like bed bug bites, or to itching and other skin troubles which may or may not be caused by actual bed bug bites. Possible causes include previous bed bug bites reappearing somehow, or allergic reactions or sensitivity to bed bug materials (cast shells, excrement) still in environment. We do not have any scientific proof that this occurs, but we have been told by several entomologists that there appear to be cases of people who experience “bite” marks and sensations of itching in locations where they were bitten much earlier, and others who react to a dead bug placed on their skin. The evidence is mostly anecdotal in nature, and while you may hear people speculating that they are experiencing “bites,” no one can be certain of this, and so you should assume you are instead troubled by bites, (without the scare quotes, this word denotes actual bed bug bites). You might like to read the posts tagged “bites” for more information.


diatomaceous earth

do-it-yourself pest control; not a good idea as a sole means of fighting bed bugs. Read this.

encasing the mattress in a zippered cover is a way of keeping bed bugs from harboring on or in a mattress. The mattress must be completely sealed in an encasement tested to keep bed bugs from penetrating the fabric or zipper. It is not the same as the more extreme procedure of isolating the bed. See “isolating the bed” below, and the Protecting the Bed FAQs for more on encasing and isolating.

entomologists are scientists who study insects. Some of our readers incorporate the root “ento” into their usernames.

frequently asked questions about bed bugs; a must-read

harborages: anywhere bed bugs can hang out between meals; may include the seams of your mattress, the cracks of your baseboards, the nooks and crannies of your bed frame, grooves or screwheads on furniture, inside box springs and sofas, and so on.

IGR, Insect Growth Regulator: chemicals which work to inhibit or interrupt the insect’s life cycle. Preventing bed bugs from reaching adulthood, or slowing that process, means fewer eggs, and so fewer bed bugs. (Gentrol is one IGR commonly used for bed bugs, though a recent study questioned its effectiveness and suggested it might make bed bug problems worse, the jury is still out, and many PCOs still consider it useful.)

instar: first instar, second instar, etc. are pre-adult bed bug life stages; see Stephen Doggett’s photo here, showing bed bug eggs, five instar stages, plus fed and unfed adult samples.

IPM: Integrated Pest Management; a currently dominant theory of pest control which claims that a well-rounded and multi-pronged approach (which may include mechanical, chemical, physical, and other methods) should be taken to eliminate bed bugs. In practice, IPM may include vacuuming furniture, floors, cracks, and crevices (with industrial-strength vacuums), dry steaming cracks, crevices, mattresses, and furniture, applying mechanical killers such as food grade DE (see DE above), encasing mattresses, treating room contents with extreme heat or extreme cold. Isolating the bed, as per our FAQs, is also an IPM strategy. The idea behind IPM as it relates to bed bugs is that bed bugs are very hard to eliminate and current pesticides work slowly. Careful programs of IPM help more fully eliminate bed bugs, more quickly, than pesticides alone. However, Bedbugger would recommend everyone works with a qualified PCO who knows bed bugs and uses either professional thermal treatments, Vikane gas fumigation, or (as is the case for most PCOs) traditional pesticides.

isolating the bed is a way some bedbuggers choose to keep bed bugs from biting at night. It involves careful, precise ways of completely keeping bed bugs out of the bed frame, off the mattress and bedding, and out of pajamas. It is not the same as simply encasing the mattress in a covering. See the Protecting the Bed FAQs for more on encasing and isolating.

lingering sensations: see “bites.”

newbies at

infant and child bed bugs: see life cycle photo here)

Pest Control Operators (they don’t like to be called exterminators!): the folks you need to meet when you think you have bed bugs.

Phantom bites:
see “bites.”

Protecting your bed:
what to do to try and stay bite free in bed

Tales of Woe:
telling everyone on your bed bug story, while it’s happening; may include background, current attempts, and requests for advice. Before March 2007, took place in the comment threads of these posts; now they occur all over the Bedbugger Forums. If you “register” on the blog, you can comment on the blog and post to the forums. You do not need to use your name and your email will be kept secure by the blog administration.

Please suggest additional terms and their definitions or references (here or elsewhere) below for addition.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nobugsonme November 4, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Updated 11/4/07 to include “bed bug blame game.”

2 parakeets November 26, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Maybe add the term “instar” to the glossary?
Maybe “harborages”?

I’m a glossary fan.

3 nobugsonme November 29, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Added instar and harborages, “isolating the bed” and “encasing the mattress.”

(Thanks ‘Keets! ‘Keets and anyone else: feel free to add additions or corrections to any item in the glossary!)

4 itchyincharmcity December 7, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Maybe add “IGR,” so people understand what they are designed to do? And maybe “entomologist”?

5 nobugsonme December 7, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Added “IGR” and “entomologist”! Thanks, Itchy!

As always, if anyone wants to suggest specific additions to the definitions, feel free. Also, pointing me to information to link to in definitions is welcomed.

6 pleasenotme January 9, 2008 at 10:37 pm

maybe add different chemicals used in bed bug control and their proper uses.

7 charlie boyer April 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm

can bed bugs travel from room to room on their own?

8 nobugsonme April 4, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Yes they can.
If you have additional questions not related to the glossary, please go to the forums:

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