The new owners of the Hospitality House, the Midcoast's homeless shelter, found bed bugs in the building after taking possession in December.

All the former homeless occupants from the old regime had moved out. The new owners, Maine State Housing Authority, hired an exterminator to debug the building, said Deb Turcotte, spokesperson for the housing authority.

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood, according to the Division of Infectious Disease for the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

“They are usually active at night when people are sleeping," according to information from Maine CDC.

Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies. About the size of an apple seed, they are big enough to be easily seen, and often hide in furniture, floors or walls.

Bed bugs do not transmit disease, but they are a nuisance, according to Maine CDC. Infestations are very difficult and expensive to control.

Most bed bug bites are initially painless, but later turn into large itchy skin welts.

To rid a home of bed bugs, CDC recommends, cleaning areas where bed bugs are likely to hide. Check behind headboards, in seams and tufts of mattresses and inside box springs, along bedroom baseboard cracks, in and around nightstands, inside window and door cases, in pictures and moldings.

Scrub mattress seams with a stiff brush to remove bed bugs and their eggs.

Vacuum mattresses, bed frames, nearby furniture, floors and carpets.

Maine CDC recommends that homeowners hire pest control professionals to rid the home of the infestation. Since bed bugs can live for several months without food and water, pest control professionals may use a pesticide.

Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or gchappell@courierpublicationslonsllc.com.