What are Bed Bugs and What to Do if You Get Them
Bed Bugs - Unwanted Guest Quickly Becoming a Major Pest. The incidence of bed bugs in the United States is increasing to the point where they can affect anyone and anywhere. Here in Broward County, Florida we hear about a problem or two every week. In the past couple of years, bed bug infestations have been increasingly observed the U.S. This increase has been mostly attributed to the increases in immigration and travel.
For years when people talked about bed bugs the thought of run down, flea bag hotels came to mind. Not now. It is not uncommon for a 4 or 5 star hotel to have a problem or two with uninvited guests. Just look at what happened in NY last year.
Being familiar with bed bugs can help to avoid infestation, or at least prompt earlier intervention by a professional pest control expert to help get rid of the bugs.
Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish, flattened insects that belong to the insect family Cimicidae. Bed bugs feed solely on the blood of animals and humans. Other bed bug species prefer to feed on wild hosts, especially bats and birds. Sometimes people mistake them for ticks or small cockroaches. FYI…Bed bugs can’t fly.
Female bed bugs lay their eggs (1, 2 or more eggs per day and hundreds during a lifetime) and tend to hang out in tiny cracks in furniture, wicker furniture, walls, moldings, upholstered furniture and any other place they can squeeze into. Initial infestations tend to be around beds and bedding, since that is where the food is at. They especially like to get into mattresses, box springs, and bed frames.
Bed bugs pretty much sleep during the day and come out at night to feed when we are sleeping. Many times bed bug bites may go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other skin conditions.
Bed bugs don’t really make nests like ants, that would make it easier to find them, but they do congregate in their hiding places. Outside of seeing them, they are fast little bugs, look for areas are marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs, places like inside the night stand, base molding behind the bed or between the box spring and bed frame. Also look for eggs and eggshells, the brownish molted skins of maturing nymphs and the bugs themselves.
Another telltale though less frequent sign is reddish blood smears on bed sheets or mattresses from crushing well feed bed bug. Very heavy infestations may cause an area to smell funny, but the odor is seldom apparent and should not be relied upon for detection.
Many people are concerned that a bed bug can transmit diseases. Bed bugs are not believed to harbor infectious microbes in and on their bodies. The main medical concern is infection if the bite area is scratched which is what we have a tendency to do when bitten. Antihistamines and corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce allergic reactions, and antiseptic or antibiotic ointments to prevent infection.
Everyday we get calls asking “how do I get rid of bed bugs”. Bed bugs are challenging pests to control and getting rid of bed bugs is not an easy process. In the event it is a serious case of bed bug infestation you will require the services of a pest control expert.
Your local store, Home Depot or Lowes, carry some sprays, dusts, and aerosol insecticides that can be used but are not recognized by the EPA. These types of products must be applied to all areas where the bugs are seen as well as spaces where they may crawl or hide. Think Small and Be Very Careful Before You Spray Anything. Not sure if they are safe? Then don't use them!
Use a stiff brush to remove eggs, take apart the bed and bed frame, remove the drawers from the dresser, and caulk the cracks in the wall and molding. A portable steam cleaner works great on getting into the small crevices and cracks. Steam kills bed bugs and their eggs. Then vacuum really good paying special attention to the cracks and crevices. Put the used vacuum bag in a plastic bag and throw it away outside.
Beds cannot be treated with insecticides. Under no circumstances should you ever spray or let anyone else spray any pesticide or insecticide on your mattress or bedding. You do not want to sleep on poison do you?
Cover the mattress, box spring and pillows in protective membrane bed bug mattress covers. These mattress covers are specifically designed with a membrane to protect against bed bugs and dust mites. Once the bed bug cover is installed and zipped shut, any bed bugs which happen to be inside are trapped and eventually will die.
In the event the mattress is heavily infested it is often necessary to throw it away. If that happens, cover your newly purchased mattress in a bed bug cover before you even bring it in the house. This will make it easier to spot and destroy any bugs that may be on the outer surface during follow up examination.
All bedding and clothes in the affected area need to be washed in hot water (120°F minimum) and then dried. Things like stuffed animals can either be put in the dryer or placed in the freezer for 24 hours. Carpet should be steamed cleaned. If you take anything to a dry cleaners make sure you tell them what is going on. You don’t want to cause someone else to have a bed bug infestation.
Cleaning up a bed bug problems is not easy to do but it can be done. Just be ready to do a lot of hard work.
Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store