More About Bedbugs

Bed bug infestations have undergone resurgence and can be found in the finest hotel and living accommodations. Due to changes in pesticides and an increase in travel, transportation of infested items such as, luggage, furniture, and bedding, we can’t stop the spread of these bugs. The detection of this blood-sucking bug is difficult in that it varies in size, feeds on humans mostly at night and hide in crevices during the day. The growth and development of these bugs is optimal when it feeds on us, however, this insect also feeds on other mammals like, birds chickens, mice, rats, and rabbits. Until recently, bed bug infestations were thought to be associated primarily with crowded and dirty homes.

A female bed bug can lay 200 to 500 tiny, white eggs in batches of 10 to 50 on surfaces such as wood or paper. The eggs hatch in about 10 days. Bed bugs require a blood meal before any activity; molting to the next stage of life and laying their next batch of eggs. The entire life cycle from egg to adult requires anywhere from five weeks to four months, depending on temperature and availability of food (blood). When temperatures are warm, range of 70° to 82°F, development occurs faster.

Where Are They Hiding?

Common hiding places include seams in mattresses and box springs, cracks in bed frames, under loose wallpaper, behind picture frames, and inside furniture and upholstery. Occasionally, people pick up bed bugs in theaters or on buses and trains. They also can bring them into their home on clothing, bedding, luggage, or firewood.

Generally, bed bugs can go without feeding for 80 to 140 days. Older bed bugs can survive longer without feeding; adults have survived without food for as long as 550 days. A bed bug can take six times its weight in blood, and feeding can take three to 10 minutes. A single feeding may take up to 10 minutes, and feels like a pin prick, but because feeding usually occurs at night when you are asleep you’re not aware that you have been bit until later. Swelling may not develop from a bed bug bite until a day or more after feeding, and some people do not show symptoms at all.

People often confuse itching bed bug welts for mosquito or spider bites. It is difficult to distinguish bed bug bites from the bites of other blood suckers such as mosquitoes, fleas, and spiders. The only way you really can confirm bed bugs are the cause is to find the bugs in your bed or bedroom.

How Do You Find Them?

You can detect a bed bug infestation by searching for their fecal spots, egg cases, and shed skins. Bed bugs have stink glands that leave odors. This is why canine detection is the most effective way to locate bed bugs in a space. They also leave unsightly fecal spots on bed sheets and around their hiding places. These spots are darkish red in color, roughly round, and can be very small.

If you’re not sure where to begin your search, start at the place you sleep. Most bed bugs are found in or near the bed, so inspections should focus on the mattress, bed frame, and headboard area. Lift the mattress and inspect all seams and surfaces as well as the box springs. You may need to dismantle the bed. These blood suckers are small and although you can see adults and aggregations of nymphs with the unaided eye, seeing the eggs requires a hand-magnifying lens.

In addition to the bed area, the remaining 15% of infestations usually are found in upholstered furniture, in bedroom cabinets, along baseboards, under wallpaper, and in carpets, wall hangings and similar hiding spots. Bed bugs prefer fabric or wood surfaces to metal or plastic. For heavy infestations, adjoining rooms, filing areas, and clutter can be out-of-way shelters. It takes patience and perseverance to find low-level infestations of such a persistent, nagging problem.

Recent research has shown searching with dogs can be an effective method for finding bed bug infestations. Under laboratory and simulated-field conditions, using dogs to search for bed bugs was 97% effective. Other recent research indicates using small, double-cupped monitors that are easily installed on the leg ends of beds trapped six times more bed bugs than were found from human visual searches alone. This trap, Interceptor, is commercially available.

If you travel frequently, watch for signs of bed bugs in your hotel room by checking under sheets and inspecting mattresses, especially if you have been bitten. If you suspect bed bugs, check your luggage before leaving and wash all your clothes as soon as you get home.

You also can bring bed bugs into your home on bedding or furniture. If you purchase second-hand furniture, especially beds or mattresses, thoroughly inspect the item before bringing it into your home. If you remove infested mattresses or furniture from your home, do not leave it on the curb or porch. Take it immediately to the dump.

Help Me Get Rid of Them!

Removing a bed bug infestation is a challenging task that requires treatment or removal of all infested items and follow-up monitoring to ensure the infestation has been eliminated for good. Effective management requires several nonchemical methods such as vacuuming, drying and washing bedding at a high temperature, using steam or heat treatment, and sealing up possible hiding places.

Insecticides may be used to eliminate a serious infestation; however over-the-counter sprays and bombs are not effective. You can make a controlled infestation worse, displacing bed bugs in places you wouldn’t normally find them.

Managers of hotels, furnished apartments, dormitories, homeless shelters, and other facilities that house transient populations need to train staff to recognize signs of bed bug activity and take action as soon as they find an infestation. One proactive step a manager can take is to regularly replace beds, mattress, and bedding materials. Frequent laundering of bedding and placing items that could be infested in walk-in freezers during tenant change and turnover can help prevent the spread of bed bugs.

It is much easier to control a bed bug infestation by keeping clutter down. Remove items from under beds and on floors. This practice leaves fewer hiding places for bed bugs to reside in. Also, seal up cracks, crevices, and holes in furniture, floors, walls and other potential hiding sites.

The most effective bed bug pesticides are available to commercial pesticide applicators only.  Insecticides alone will not eliminate a bed bug infestation. If you must go the pesticide route, discuss an integrated pest management solution with your pest control provider. The combination of insecticides, heat and washing, followed up with a detection schedule will ensure effective treatment.

Pesticides generally should NOT be applied to mattresses or bedding because of the risk to people.

Top Dog Pest Control is a nontoxic bed bug resolution company with canine detection and heat remediation. They are a licensed, professional and discreet, pest control operator and offer customized Bed Bug Action Plans to help you prevent bed bug infestations. For more information, call (888) 407-3071.