The Bed Bug
Latin name Cimex lectularius is a cryptic, nocturnal, blood-sucking pest. The description alone conjures up images from a horror film. They are skilled hitchhikers and can easily be picked up from just about any public place. These pests are very, very difficult to control with Do-It-Yourself measures.
They wreak havoc on homeowners when an infestation has set in and although they do not transmit disease victims report:
- Itchy, red, raised welts on the skin
- Emotional stress and anxiety
A Little History
Once a widespread problem back in the 1930s and 1940s they were all but eradicated due to the pesticide DDT which has since been banned. But from about the mid-1990s, bed bugs have made a comeback. Experts attribute this comeback to two major factors: the increase in international travel to areas where bed bugs were never completely eradicated and the banning of strong pesticides like DDT that had a longer lasting effect than today’s pesticides approved for use.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like
Size & Color
Bed bugs range in size and color depending on their age. A mature bed bug is small, oval in shape, red to brown in color (depending on their latest blood meal) and extremely small about ¼ inch in length or about the size of an apple seed. Nymphs or young are born as sticky white eggs extremely small in size but visible to the naked eye. Adults can be difficult to see even when an infestation is present because they are nocturnal, hide in the smallest of cracks and crevices around a home and are so tiny.
How Bed Bugs Infest
Bed bugs do not discriminate. We have treated infestations in low income housing as well as five-star hotels. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and when you come into contact with them whether on an overnight stay in a hotel, in a cab, movie theatre or by brushing up against a person who has bed bugs they will stow away in your clothing, luggage or other belongings. You may also bring bed bugs home in used or rented furniture that was already infested. You may be at higher risk of an infestation if you travel often (especially internationally), have a student that lives away at school and returns home, bring used furniture into the home or have a lot of house guests. If you live in a multi-unit housing facility with shared walls you can even become infested from a neighboring unit that has an infestation. Bed bugs can easily slip through cracks and crevices in walls and flooring.
Bed Bug Hiding Spots
Common Hiding Spots
Bed bugs will typically hide near sleeping areas like the mattress, box spring, bedding, bed frame, headboard, baseboard, night stand, electrical outlet cover, phone jacks, picture frames, peeling wallpaper, couch, recliner, any small crack or crevice and near where people sleep or rest making it difficult to get rid of bed bugs.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Common Symptoms of Infestation
Because bed bugs are so small and because of their cryptic nature and tendency to hide during daylight hours it can be difficult to spot actual bed bugs to confirm an infestation. Infestations are best confirmed by a pest professional. Some signs that you may have a bed bug infestation include:
- Unexplainable itchy, red welts on the skin of one person within a dwelling. Note that this skin reaction is caused by a reaction to the bites and not everyone will react in this way. Therefore, you could have two people sleeping in the same bed one showing signs of bed bug bites and one that is not.
- Red to brown tiny blood smears on bedding from crushed bed bugs
- Finding bed bug casings or shells or dead bed bugs near sleeping areas:
- Seams, creases, tufts and folds of mattresses and box springs
- Cracks in the bed frame and head board
- Under chairs, couches, beds, dust covers
- Between the cushions of couches and chairs
- Under area rugs and the edges of carpets
- Between the folds of curtains
- In drawers
- Behind baseboards, and around window and door casings
- Behind electrical plates and under loose wallpaper, paintings and posters
- In cracks in plaster
- In telephones, radios, and clocks
- In a heavily infested room a sweet smell may be noticed.
How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs
If you suspect that you have bed bugs contact a pest professional immediately to have a bed bug inspection of your residence. Bed bugs are not a do-it-yourself pest. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association bed bugs are THE most difficult pest to control. Controlling bed bugs often requires heat treatment and pesticides, neither of which an untrained homeowner should attempt to handle on their own. Bed bugs reproduce rapidly. The longer you delay in calling in a professional the more widespread the infestation will become. The larger the infestation, the longer it will take to control and more difficult it will be. Things not to do if you suspect you have a bed bug infestation:
- DO NOT throw out your belongings. This will NOT solve the problem and the remaining bed bugs will simply re-infest other items within the home.
- Do NOT change sleeping areas. Bed bugs find you from the heat and CO2 that your body gives off. They will simply infest whatever new sleeping area you choose in the home.
- DO NOT attempt to heat your home on your home. A New York and New Jersey man recently burned his house down with do-it-yourself bed bug treatments.
How To Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation?
There are precautions that you can take against bed bugs. Consider these bed bug prevention tips the next time you are traveling:
- Thoroughly inspect a hotel room before you move your luggage and personal items inside. You can do by inspecting the bed including the mattress and box spring with a good flashlight for signs of bed bugs listed above. Look evidence that bed bugs have been there and not just the bugs themselves. Bug casings, small blood stains or smears and dead bed bugs are all things you are looking for. If you uncover any signs of bed bugs in the room asked to be moved to a different section of the hotel immediately.
- When staying in a hotel never place your personal items on soft furnishings in the room like upholstered chairs and couches. Instead first thoroughly examine and then use the luggage rack or place or luggage on top of a desk or piece of hard furniture.
- Upon returning home from a trip never bring your luggage back to your bedroom. And never, ever place it directly on top of your bed or store under your bed. Instead wash and dry all of your clothing on the hottest setting that the items can stand and store your luggage in the garage, basement or other area of your home away from sleeping quarters.
- Wash your bedding regularly keeping a watchful eye for any sign of bed bugs. Contact us immediately upon discovery of any signs of bed bugs.
- Keep clutter to a minimum as clutter may hide an infestation in a home or make one very difficult to control.
- Have any unexplained skin itches or red welts diagnosed by a doctor immediately.