The Truth About Bed Bugs The Bug, the Infestation, the Treatment
What Are They? The phrase “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” might be cutesy to a lot of people, but for anyone who has had a bed bug infestation there is nothing cute about it. The thought of these tiny bugs, emerging from their hiding spots once you are asleep to feast on your blood is enough to make a lot of people leave the comfort of their beds until the problem has been addressed. But as you are about to learn, a bed bug isn’t the easiest pest to get rid of. The common bed bug is a member of the Cimicidae family, and is known as ‘Cimex Lectularius.’ Bed bugs are parasitic insects whose favorite food is blood. The fact that they have a penchant for hanging out in beds and other areas where humans sleep is what inspired the name. Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal, but they have been known to pop out of hiding at other times to feed. They are attracted by warmth, and will pierce the skin of their host when they are ready to suck blood. Since they are so small, it is possible for a bed bug to feed on your blood while you’re awake, without you even knowing. If you have been bitten by a bed bug, you may notice small, reddish bumps that resemble mosquito bites or a mild rash.
Is That Really a Bed Bug? If you see what you suspect is a bed bug but aren’t sure, there are a few telltale signs to watch for. Adult bed bugs are about 4 to 5 mm long and up to 3 mm wide, and their bodies are flat and oval-shaped. They generally range from a light brown to reddish-brown colour, but may be a bit darker as they age. A newly hatched bed bug is almost translucent, and will darken as it ages. Occasionally, you might mistake a bed bug for a carpet beetle, or the other way around.
How They Get In Even though it may seem like it, bed bugs don’t just appear out of nowhere. In fact, they can get into your home in a variety of different ways. Bed bugs and their eggs can hitch a ride on pets or clothing, in backpacks and luggage, or on virtually anything else that has been in contact with them. If you have visitors from an infested home, or if members of your household visit an infested home, you may get bed bugs as a result. If you live in an apartment building, bed bugs can easily make their way through ductwork and other routes to get to you. Sometimes, people who live in apartments may not warn their neighbours about bed bugs because of the perception they bring, which just makes the situation worse.
How to Find Bed Bugs If you suspect that you may have a bed bug problem, or if you or your kids are waking with bites, you can do a quick run-through to be certain: Bed – remove all of the sheets and blankets from the mattress, and look closely for little blood spots. Stand the mattress up and then lift the box spring and turn it over. Inspect along and under the seams of the mattress and inside the box spring for bugs. Shine a flashlight in any dark areas and look under tags, on head or foot boards, and anywhere else a bed bug could hide. Photo From http://www.bedbug.com/
Bedroom – Once the bed is done, look inside drawers, behind pictures, in folded clothes, under computers and in other narrow spaces. Look behind curtains, under carpeting and behind baseboards, if possible. Furniture – Bed bugs won’t just stay in your bedroom, so you have to check the rest of the house, too. Remove all the cushions from chairs and sofas and inspect the seams the same way you did with the bed. Look underneath the couches and chairs by tipping them back slightly. Be sure to check behind any skirts or other crevices or hiding places your furniture has to offer. Living Room – Just like the bedroom, look behind baseboards, pictures, curtains, under carpets or anywhere else that a bed bug could hide. Be especially diligent if you have found evidence of infestation in other areas of the house.
Common Treatment Methods Since the first thought of most people who have bed bugs is how to get rid of them, you can find quite a few different treatment methods. Some of the primary bed bug treatments include chemicals and pesticides. Some of these chemical treatments may be effective, but there is also the fear of creating a toxic environment right where you sleep. Many chemicals have been approved for use by government agencies, but it isn’t completely uncommon for a chemical to be okay one week and banned the next, as more information is learned about the dangers of using them. Steaming and fogging are common treatments, but they might not always be able to reach into the deeper hiding spots. Aerosol treatments will usually kill bed bugs, but only if they are sprayed directly onto the bugs. This means that the ones that are deep in hiding will still be around to bite another day.
Bring On the Heat! One treatment that some companies use that isn’t toxic and will actually draw the bugs out from their hiding spots is heat. Pest control companies that use this method control the heat around the common hiding spots of the bed bugs. The beds come out toward the heat source, then the heat is cranked up so quickly that they don’t have time to get back, and they are killed. Timing is very important with this method, and it requires a skilled technician to pull it off. But once it’s over, the bed bugs are gone and your living space is free from any added toxins or chemical residue. If you have bed bugs and are concerned about being eco- friendly, consider the heat! Photo From http://www.ecopestcontrol.com
How to Prevent Bed Bugs Finding an effective treatment for bed bugs is great, but preventing them from showing up in the first place is even better. Always check secondhand furniture and similar items before you bring them in the house. You can also purchase protective covers for your mattresses that will eliminate hiding spots and keep your beds and box springs clear. It’s always wise to inspect kid’s clothes and backpacks as they come in the house after a sleepover. This will reduce the likelihood of bugs hitching a ride right into your house from someone else’s. Since bed bugs love to hide, reducing the clutter in your house will also reduce hiding spots. When you travel, use the luggage racks in a hotel room instead of setting your luggage on the floor or bed. It’s also wise to go through your luggage thoroughly right when you get back home.
Common Bed Bug Myths Perception is a big thing no matter what you’re talking about, and bed bugs are no different. There are several common myths and misconceptions about bed bugs that just won’t seem to go away: Bed bugs live in dirty places – The reality is, bed bugs will live anywhere that has warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. A cluttered area does offer more hiding spots, but they don’t nee78d dirt and grime to flourish. Bed bugs spread disease – According to many lab tests, it doesn’t seem as if the bed bug is capable of transmitting disease from one person to another. Bed bugs won’t come out in the light – They do prefer darkened spaces, but if you try to sleep with the lights on to keep them away, you’re still going to get bit.
Considerations Bed bugs typically like to feed on blood every five or ten days, but they can last a lot longer than that, if necessary. Some experts say they can survive for several months without even a drop. Bed bugs that are able to get regular feedings have a life span of around 10 months. A female bed bug is capable of laying about 300 eggs over the course of its life….you do the math! Bed bugs can’t survive extreme heat or cold, which is why some people place mattresses outside in winter or throw clothing in a hot clothes dryer. Most home treatments are no match for the resiliency of a bed bug. Even though you aren’t likely to have any lasting effects from bed bug bites, if you really want them gone, call a professional and get it done right!
Heat-N-Go Pest Control provides eco-friendly bed bug extermination services in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. For more details, click here.