What You Need to Know About Bed Bugs

Bed Bug ImageLatin name: Cimmex  Lectularius Linnaeus

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are insects of the cimicid family and feed exclusively on blood. They prefer warm houses and areas especially near or inside beds, bedding or other sleeping areas. Active mainly at night (occasionally at other times) they feed on the blood of the host. The host is almost exclusively human but may feed on pets or other mammals.

A Bit About Bed Bugs and Their History

Bed bugs have been human parasites for thousands of years and were thought to be almost gone in the 1940’s however since 1995 there has been a steady increase in the population. This increase may be due to pesticide resistance and because of travel, (international or at home) and the difficulty of effective extermination. So far bed bugs have not been connected with the spreading of disease or pathogens among humans. The food choice of the bed bug is a rather uncomfortable thought, this with the fact that they can infest a home in such large populations causes a considerable amount of concern. Other common names are Mahogany Flat, Chinch, and Red Coat.

Bed Bug Identification

The adult bed bug may be 1/5-inch long and 1/8- inch wide with a reddish brown to mahogany in color. The body is a flattened oval shape. After feeding, their shape is more elongated or torpedo shaped. Their appearance returns to normal after digesting their meal. Although not visible to the naked eye its body is covered with tiny hairs and yet has a shiny appearance. Bed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that enable them to pierce the skin and suck blood from their hosts.

Reproduction

Bed bug eggs are white, very tiny and will hatch in 6 – 17 days, they produce small almost colorless nymphs that go through a gradual metamorphosis of five instars before becoming adults. Each stage requires a blood meal to molt. Immature nymphs resemble adults but  are smaller and turn bright red after a blood meal. The Nymphal period will normally last from 14 – 30 days but may take longer if a host is not available. Soon after becoming mature bed bugs will mate and will be laying eggs. The time between eggs hatching and laying is about 4 – 9 weeks. Adult bed bugs may survive up to a year or longer without feeding, nymphs, not as hardy, may still survive for a considerable period without feeding. The female bed bug can lay as many as 3-5 eggs each day.

Bed Bug Infestation

How did you get bed bugs? Bed bugs are great hitchhikers, catching a ride on luggage, furniture, pant legs even outer clothing. Generally, they can be found in areas with a steady turnover of people such as hotels/motels. It is possible for them to move from room to room or apartment to apartment. They are an equal opportunity bug, not caring about race, gender, economic status, religion, housing types or anything else. As long as they can find a host that gives off co2 and a place for them to hide they are content.

Dr. Oz And Bed Bugs!

Where do they live?

During the daylight hours, bed bugs will hide in cracks and crevices. Favorite hiding places may be in the mattress, among the folds and tufts, in the cording around the mattress, in the coils of the springs and in the cracks and hollow posts of a bedstead. They are attracted to the body warmth and carbon dioxide given off by the host and need to be close. Other places may be behind loose wallpaper, pictures, door casings and baseboards or behind or under the drawers of the nightstand. Bed bugs will also infest upholstery of chairs and sofas. Any place that offers darkness, isolation and protection can be a hiding place. Because bedbugs can hide in so many places it is a challenge to completely exterminate them.

Inspect for Bed Bugs

Bed bug Behavior and Bites

Bed bugs generally feed at night, they are attracted to carbon dioxide and warmth. They prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person. Bites appear as a row of several raised, possibly reddened bumps that may become very itchy or painful. It may take up to two weeks to produce a reaction or there may be no reaction at all. With their mouth parts, they are able to inject saliva and anticoagulants before feeding on the host’s blood. They also inject a painkiller so the host is unaware of being bitten.

Signs of Bed Bug Bites (a doctor with the national pesticide association)

Bed Bug Treatments

Professional Bed Bug treatments may include, pesticide sprays, dust, and heat. Items may be placed in plastic bags and left for a length of time necessary to kill the bed bugs through asphyxiation. An alternative solution is freezing. Place these bags in a freezer for a certain length of time to kill the bed bugs. Washable and dryable items can be placed in a very hot dryer for 20 – 30 min. A temperature of 140 degrees F. will kill Bed Bugs. A Bed Bug is nearly flat, it can get into cracks and crevices that are difficult to reach and clean which makes this bug particularly difficult to eliminate. A thorough inspection of all possible hiding places must be done for an effective treatment to be completed. A variety of treatment methods may be combined to be certain this prolific bug is completely exterminated. Often self-treatments are unsuccessful in eliminating Bed Bugs. A professional pest control technician can use effective products and methods a homeowner may not have access to. Bed Bugs are a challenge even for the professional pest control technician.

How Can You Prevent Picking Up a Bed Bug?

When traveling inspect the hotel room before taking your luggage in the room. You could also place the luggage in the bath tub.
Check the mattress, boxes spring, headboard, under lamps, clock radios, and side tables for signs of an infestation.
What to look for:

  •  Small trails of dried blood droplets on mattresses, box spring or bedding.
  •  Accumulation of red-brown stains in cracks and seams of furniture and bedding
  • Molts (old skins cast off)

Where to look:

  •  The cording around the mattress and box spring, especially at the corners and seams near the headboard area.
  •  In the cracks of the bed frame, side rails, and cross braces attached to the headboard.
  •  Behind the headboard and the underside of drawers, inside recessed screw holes.
  •  Under electrical devices kept near the bed, (alarm clocks, lamps, telephones, etc.
  •  Keep your luggage away from the bed and off of the floor.

Prevention for introducing bed bugs into the home

• Know that purchasing second-hand furniture is a high-risk source of bed bug infestations.
• When returning home leave luggage in the garage or outside until you have had a chance to wipe it down and inspect it.
• If you suspect, you have been exposed to bed bugs place clothing in a dryer for 20 – 30 min. The heat of 140 degrees F. will kill Bed Bugs.
• Place luggage in a plastic bag and seal it.
• Other contents of the luggage that cannot be placed in the dryer should be placed in a sealed bag and placed in a freezer for 7 – 10 days.

For more information on Bed bugs visit OSU entomology website 
http://entomology.oregonstate.edu/urbanent

Also, see Pest World at www.pestworld.org and enter bedbugs in the search bar.

If you believe you have Bed Bugs, we are here to help.  Give us a call and we can confirm an infestation and discuss how you can eliminate them from your home.

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