BED BUGS: A RE-EMERGING PROBLEM Barry Engber Medical Entomologist Public Health Pest Management Section N.C. Division of Environmental Health
Bed bugs are “true bugs” in the order Hemiptera e.g. aphids, scales, cicadas.
Hemiptera is from the Greek hemi ("half") and pteron ("wing"), referring to the forewings of many hemipterans which are hardened near the base, but membranous at the ends.
Hemipteran mouthparts have evolved into a proboscis, sheathed within a modified labium to form a "beak" or “rostrum” which is capable of piercing tissues and sucking out liquids. Most hemipterans feed on plants, but some feed on animals.
One theory is that bed bugs originated from bugs that fed on bats living in caves. When man moved into the caves the bugs adapted to feed on them; when man left, the bugs went with them.
Mentioned from earliest recorded history .
Commonly referred to as chinches by grand folks. Mahogany flats and red coats were also used.
Sometimes legs of bed were placed into cans of oil or kerosene to prevent bugs from climbing into the bed.
An assortment of treatments used for control .
Iron or brass bedsteads are better for controlling bed bugs than wood.
Kerosene oil, gasoline, or benzene will kill bedbugs if forced into cracks and crevices with a feather or with a hand syringe.
A mixture of corrosive sublimate one ounce, alcohol one pint and spirits of turpentine one-fourth pint painted into the cracks of a bedstead with a feather
Boiling water poured over the parts of a bedstead that have been carried where they may be liberally treated.
Sulfur candles for fumigating are now made and are very convenient
Hydrocyanic acid gas – this is the killing agent par excellence for bedbugs and household insects. Formed by chemical reaction between potassium cyanide, water, and sulfuric acid and is a deadly poison to human beings and other animals. However it can be generated and used in the fumigation of houses, without the least danger if care and precaution are used in the work.
Insects Injurious to the Household, G. Herrick, 1914
“ Bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices
during the day and come out at night to
suck blood. Hence, DDT spray must be
directed toward their daytime hiding
places. Apply the DDT spray to the
bedsteads, paying particular attention to
cracks in the wood and joins. Spray the
springs and mattresses. Strip the mat-
tress and spray all sides and the edges,
especially any crevices in which
bedbugs might hide and behind any
loose paper where they might
Bed bugs began to be reported as problems during mid 90’s mainly by travelers staying at hotels/motels
Lately severe problems are being reported from apartment complexes and rental home property in GA.
Resurgence of bed bugs could be the result of changes in availability and use of residual insecticides and/or resistance to current insecticides. Less baseboard applications are being made.
Ralph Lauren, 650 Madison Ave. - graphic design studio, company offices, September 2006
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (law firm), One World Financial Center, 33rd floor - word processing department, June 2007
Luxury apartment building (owned by Bernard Spitzer), 220 E. 72nd St. - apartments on 15th, 16th and 17th floors, 2006 and 2007
George Washington Hotel & Residence, 23 Lexington Ave. - dormitory rooms for students at School of Visual Arts, 2006-2007 academic year
Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, 36 Central Park South - guest room, 2005
Marymount Manhattan College dormitories, 224 E. 47th St. and 233 E. 55th St. - student rooms, September 2007
President Thomas Jefferson Houses, 310 E. 115th St. - residential apartments, 2005, 2006 and 2007
Elias Howe P.S. 51, 520 W. 45th St. - in classroom or closet, on student's coat or clothing, fall of 2007
Home of "Boogie Nights" director Paul Thomas Anderson and "Saturday Night Live" star Maya Rudolph, Greene St. in SoHo - third-floor bedroom, October 2006.
Sources: Department of Housing Preservation & Development; Housing Authority; Department of Education and Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications.
Derivation 1: According to the Oxford English Dictionary tight in this expression is the equivalent of the only surviving use of the adverb tightly meaning 'soundly, properly, well, effectively'.” Most likely derivation.
Derivation 2: Before box springs were in use, old bed frames used rope pulled tightly between the frame rails to support a mattress. If the rope became loose, the mattress would sag making for uncomfortable sleeping. Tightening the ropes would help one get a good night sleep.
Derivation 3: In the early half of the 19th century it was a common practice to wrap oneself completely in a blanket in an effort to deter the aggravation of bed pests until one fell asleep. Children were wrapped tightly, or bundled. Bundling was a common practice in these times also for controlling the activity of infants and toddlers whilst the mother accomplished her daily tasks.
Bed bug - Cimex lectularius
Bat bug - Cimex adjunctus
Poultry bug - Haematosiphon inodorus
Swallow Bug - Oeciacus vicarius
Chimney Swift Bug - Cimexopsis nyctalis
These are insects in the order Hemiptera making
them “true bugs”. Specimens must be identified
in order to determine the appropriate treatment.
Bed bug Bat bug
Incomplete metamorphosis - bugs hatching from egg look just like very small
adults. There are three stages of development:
Eggs . Females lay one to five eggs a day over a period of two to 10 months, producing about 200 total. They deposit the 1mm white eggs intermittently each day in protected places near their hosts' sleeping quarters, cemented to bedding or in cracks. The eggs hatch in one or two weeks, depending on temperature. Male genital pierces the female during mating
Nymphs . Tiny and colorless at first, nymphs resemble small adults. They require a blood meal between each of five molts. Blood meals take about three to 10 minutes, at which time the nymphs inject saliva containing an anticoagulant. The nymphal stage can last for several weeks under favorable conditions or as long as a year when temperatures or host availability are low.
Adults . About 1/4 inch long, 3/16 inch wide and reddish-brown in color. The flattened oval bodies are adapted for hiding in narrow spaces. The head has a pair of four-segmented antennae and piercing-sucking mouthparts that fold to lie between the first pair of legs. The tiny wings are represented only by pads. The body may become greatly enlarged and blood-red in color during a blood meal but turns a dirty brown subsequently. Females can live nearly a year without food. Males and females both feed on blood
Individual bites may cause itching/irritation
Secondary infection of bites possible
Systemic effects from numerous bites
Loss of sleep
Pathogens have been isolated, but bed bugs are not know to transmit diseases
Bites typically occur at night while person is in bed. Bites by bug may be painless, person often wakes to find bugs in bed.
Bites are on exposed areas of skin. Sometimes occur in linear groups of 3, called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”.
Individuals may react differently to bites in terms of itching and discomfort.
Numerous bites may cause systemic reaction
Topical treatment with hydrocortisone, oral antihistamines or corticosteroids for numerous bites. Antibiotic cream for secondary infections.
Moved by travelers from hotel to hotel. Bugs do not actually live on people, but may be transported in suitcases or clothing in which they hide.
Used or rented furniture may harbor infestations
Infestations may be spread from residence to residence during moves.
Infestations may spread from unit to unit in apartments and hotels
Infestations are usually centered around bed
Typically the “victim” will find bugs in bed.
Bed bugs can be found hiding in crevices along the mattress and box springs such as ticking, tags, buttons, and rips. The gap between mattress and box spring is a very good inspection site. Check crevices and openings along the bed frame.
Dark spots on mattress and other surfaces results from blood that has been digested and defecated.
As infestation grows, bugs may be found hiding further from the bed - behind pictures, baseboards nightstands, under carpet or wallpaper. Adjoining rooms may become infested.
Identify bugs to determine if they are bed, bat or bird. Eliminate bird or bat sources of bugs.
Clean room and remove clutter to eliminate bed bug harborage.
Vacuum to remove bugs and eggs
Launder clothing and bedding in hot cycle to kill bugs and eggs
Steam clean carpet and furniture to kill bugs and eggs.
Heat treatment of mattresses may be available.
Two-sided tape or band of petroleum jelly on bed legs discourages bugs from climbing.
Mattress cover makes it more difficult for bugs to hide. Easier to clean.
Treat bed frame and head board as permitted by insecticide label. PCO might not want to treat mattress or might use pyrethroids.
Treat cracks and crevices with a residual insecticide