“Don’t let the bedbugs bite!”
This popular bed-time benediction used to actually have some “bite” to it. Between the late 1
940s and the early 1970s, the use of DDT, now known to be an environmental hazard, bedbugs went through a dramatic decline in population that is now beginning to creep upward again.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Bed Bugs resemble tiny reddish-brown flat seeds. They are about a quarter of an inch in length and swell to 3 times normal size after a good feeding. Their calling card takes the shape of little reddish brown spots on bed linens. Since bed bugs feed on warm-blooded animals (like you), the spots usually appear near your head and lower legs since they are attracted to warm dark places and the carbon dioxide you exhale while you sleep. Their bites, which can appear on your skin over an hour after feeding, are reddish flat welts that can trigger allergic reactions of varying intensity.
Dwellings can become infested with bed bugs in a variety of ways:
- Bugs and eggs that “hitchhiked in” on pets, clothing and luggage
- Infested items (such as furniture or clothing) brought into the home.
- Nearby dwellings that are infested, if there are easy routes (through duct work or false ceilings)
- People visiting from a source of infestation; bed bugs, like roaches, are transferred by clothing, luggage, or a person’s body.
Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
An adult female bed bug lays between 1 and 5 minescule eggs PER DAY. After incubating about 10 days (or longer in colder weather), the babies emerge and begin to look for a host. They reach adulthood, and begin making more little baby bed bugs, after about 5 full feedings, molting their exoskeletons in between each one. These bug “casings” are one way to detect the presence of bedbugs. A well-fed bed bug can live for 4 to 6 months. A dormant bed bug is capable of surviving 18 months.
Best Management Practices for Bed Bugs
A detailed inspection by a qualified pest management professional is the first component of a successful bed bug control program. The inspection focuses on the sleeping areas and objects near the sleeping areas such as headboards, bed frames, night stands. The process of inspecting then treating for bed bugs is very labor intensive. Followup treatments are also essential because eggs are not affected by most insecticides therefore chemical treatments should be repeated after about two weeks to kill any newly hatched nymphs.
Preparation for Treatment
Clothing, stuffed animals, linens or other items that can be laundered in hot, soapy water and then put into a hot dryer should be securely bagged and then laundered. Note that hot water and soap may not kill bed bugs but the high heat of the dryer will! Vacuum thoroughly, especially along carpet edges and then place vaccum bag into a sealed plastic bag and dispose of OUTSIDE in dumpster or trash bin immediately. Discard cardboard boxes, bags, newspapers, and magazines. Remove all articles from under the beds,empty bureau drawers, empty closet areas, empty luggage and leave open for treatment.
The most effective method of addressing a suspected bedbug infestation is to contact a professional pest control company. Empire Pest Control will conduct a thorough inspection to ensure that your infestation is, in fact, a bedbug population and will then arrange for appropriate treatment.
Thanks to Ken Walker from the Pests & Diseases Image Library at Bugwood.org for his permission to use the photo above