Bed bugs are on the rise after a dramatic decline in the 1940s and 1950s. A couple of reasons for the return are more world-wide travel and today’s insecticides, although safer for people, are less effective in killing these bugs. Bed bugs are small, flat insects, usually reddish-brown and up to 1/4-inch long. Bed bugs do not fly or hop, but can move quickly across floors and walls. Bed bugs most commonly enter hotels or residences by “hitch-hiking” on a suitcase or backpack, used furniture or other objects moved from one building to another. Bed bugs can survive several months without feeding.
At night, bed bugs leave their hiding places in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, nightstands, curtains, couches, and wall voids, and behind baseboards, door frames and windows frames, and carpet edges to feed. The bugs feed on the blood of animals and also people. The bug’s beak-like mouth painlessly pierces its victim, injects saliva and sucks up the host’s blood, in about three to five minutes.
“Public Health Departments, State and local, across the Nation, are seeing an increased number of calls about bed bug infestations,” said Kevin Lewis, local pest management professional. “To help reduce this problem, I encourage everyone to learn the signs of bed bug infestations, how the bugs are spread, what you can do to prevent getting them and what to do if you find bed bugs.”
Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause an intense itch and scratching could produce secondary infections. Bed bugs may be brought into well-maintained hotels and clean homes because all they need to survive is a place to hide and a host to supply their only food – blood. New infestations may go undetected when only a few bed bugs are present, allowing the infestation to grow and spread.
Signs of infestation:
-Spots of blood left on bed sheets indicate bed bug biting.
-Brownish-black specks (feces) and bed bug “shells” (shed exoskeletons) indicate a bed bug infestation.
How bed bugs are spread:
-Bed bugs attach to luggage, backpacks, clothing, beds and furniture and move when those objects are moved.
-Bed bugs are often traced to travel in a particular country where bed bugs are common.
-Use of secondhand furniture, particularly beds and couches.
-They can also spread quickly from one unit to the next in multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings.
To prevent getting bed bugs:
-Keep beds pulled slightly away from walls, furniture, and curtains.
-Keep floor under and around beds free of clutter.
-Change sheets and pillow cases weekly (wash in either hot water or machine dry at medium or high heat).
-Use fitted sheets on mattress, or tuck sheets under mattress.
-Use light colored sheets and check for discolored spots when removing them from the bed.
-Look for sign of bed bugs along seams of the mattress in places you stay (hotels, motels) and keep your bags and luggage off the floor and bed.
-Inspect all used furniture carefully for bed bugs before bringing it into a home – do not scavenge furniture left on the street.
If there is a bed bug infestation:
-Vacuum infested areas (including mattresses and box springs) and dispose of the contents in a sealed garbage bag or trash container.
-Remove the pillows, sheets, blankets, from the mattress and box springs and wash tthe sheets and blankets. Dry them on medium or high heat.
-Items that cannot be completely inspected and treated should be disposed of
-Tightly seal mattresses and box springs inside mattress encasements specially designed to exclude bed bugs.
How do I get rid of Bed Bugs?
Doing it yourself will be very difficult, hiring a licensed pest management professional may be preferable because effective control requires experience, time and special application equipment. Effective control of bed bugs will probably require more than one treatment. Owners and occupants have an important role and will need to assist the pest control professional. Affording access for inspection and treatment is crucial and excess clutter that provides hiding places for bed bugs should be removed. Since bed bugs can move throughout a building, adjoining rooms and apartments should always be inspected, and treated if bed bugs are found. Treatments such as “fogging” and “bug bombs” are ineffective against well-hidden bed bugs and may drive them into other rooms or apartment and spread the infestation. Pesticide applications should not be done unless bed bugs have been identified by a qualified specialist. For more information about bed bugs you can contact Kevin Lewis of Green Frog Pest Solutions at 866-751-3764.