1. What are bed bugs?
Scientific naming and distribution
Scientific name: Cimex lectularius
Common name: Bed bug
Order: Hemiptera (true bugs)
U.S. Distribution: all states
World Distribution: All temperate areas
2. What do bed bugs look like?
- Broad, oval shape with a flattened body when unfed
- They do not have wings and do not fly
- They have a pair of antennae that have 4 segments to it
- Their feeding beak is usually tucked underside, separated into 3 segments and used as a piercing and sucking mouth-part
- Adults are about 1/5 inch long and easily visible if out in the open
3. What are the feeding habits of bed bugs?
- All forms, except eggs, require a blood meal and thus feed on a variety of animals.
- Humans are a preferred host in many cases.
- Bed bugs feed mainly at night. Some research shows they prefer the hours of 2-5am.
- A single bed bug can inflict multiple bite sites when feeding, looking for a good blood source.
- Bed bugs first inject a salivary gland substance that numbs the area so their host (you!) cannot detect. Their mouthpart puncturing your skin to siphon up a blood meal.
- Believe it or not! Bed bugs can travel 20-100 feet for a blood meal. So, even though you do not see them, they are coming from significant distances in a room to reach you.
4. What is the impact of DDT and other Insecticides on bed bugs?
- By 1950′s bed bugs were a seldom heard of problem, due to strong pesticides such as DDT. However, resistance appeared within a few years but, control remained effective due to other chlorinated hydrocarbons like lindane and organophosphates like malathion.
- Those bed bugs surviving via resistance however, continued to multiply and we are seeing these offspring and bugs as well as those not treated then.
5. Why are bed bugs coming back?
- Increased Worldwide travel.
- Underground economy.
- Increase in secondhand merchandise.
- Changes in bed bug biology/habits.
- The public does not recognize the bugs or signs of an infestation.
- Pesticides today are less toxic.
- Pesticides today are less broadcast spraying oriented and more oriented towards baits.
6. How do I know if I have got bed bugs?
I see a bug
If possible, capture the insect. Take a piece of scotch tape and gentle place on top of the insect. Then place the scotch tape with insect onto a piece of paper. You can then put this in a envelope and give to your Pest Management Professional when they arrive for an inspection.
Bite marks on body
Some people are allergic to the salivary gland injection made by a bed bug and thus show mosquito-like welts on their body where the insect has fed.
No visible bite marks on body
Not everyone is allergic to the bed bug salivary gland excretion, therefore, one person may show signs while a partner sleeping in the same bed at the same time shows no signs on their body, when in fact the bug has fed on them too.
Spotting on bed linens and mattress/box spring, etc
Bed bugs many times will defecate while feeding and thus leave dark fecal spots, (which is partially digested blood) on their host, mattresses, clothing, bedding, walls, ceiling and every place you can imagine in a room.
Odor in room
When an infestation is particularly large, the scent glands on the insect emit a sickly sweet odor. Do not use this as the only means of determining if bed bugs exist. The absence of this odor does not indicate there is no infestation.
How to find bed bugs when traveling
Concerned travelers may want to check their bed for telltale signs of the bugs — a common practice years ago. This would entail examining the bedsheets and upper and lower seams of the mattress. Some professionals also suggest removal and examination behind the headboard, a frequent hiding place for the bugs in hotel rooms. If bed bugs are detected, travelers can request another room. Concerned travelers may also want to elevate suitcases off the floor (e.g. on a luggage stand).
Inspecting or vacuuming luggage upon arriving home is less useful since it is hard to detect bedbugs inside a suitcase.
I know I have bed bugs, but I can’t seem to actually FIND any. Where do these suckers hide out when they aren’t eating me?
You have to look very carefully to locate where the bed bugs are hiding. It will be someplace close to their food source, but where they are not disturbed during the day. Some common bed bug harborages include:
Inside mattress folds, creases, zippers, and tags
Anything attached to the wall or ceiling: mirrors, picture frames, electrical conduits, smoke detectors, etc.
Areas where hardware for window finishings mount to the wall Within the folds of drapes and curtains.
Furniture such as sofas and chairs: Check the undersides, wooden framework, and within upholstered seams.
Inside the cracks and crevices of drawers and nightstands. On recessed nail and screw heads.
What is the difference between a bed bug and flea bite?
A bed bug bite starts out painless and later becomes an itchy, red welt. These welts may occasionally bleed. The main difference between bed bug and flea bites is that a flea bite has a red dot in the center of it, while the bed bug bite does not have any red dot.
Will I get sick from bed bugs?
While bed bug bites are uncomfortable, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease and are not considered harmful.
I have tried to control the bed bugs myself, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere. When should I call a professional?
If you feel at all uncomfortable performing your own bed bug inspection and treatment, or the infestation seems to be out of your control, it is best to call in a pest control professional.
I keep my home very clean. Where did these bed bugs come from?
Unfortunately, a clean home is just as susceptible to bed bugs as a filthy one. All that is needed for an infestation to occur is for an infested item to be introduced into an un-infested environment. Bed bugs are most likely to be introduced upon returning from travel or when overnight guests are entertained. They can also hitch a ride into your home on items purchased second-hand, or furniture and bedding that is delivered to your home. Immediately after any of these events have taken place would be the ideal time to inspect for live bed bugs and other signs of nfestation.
How can I get rid of bed bugs without exposing my family to so many chemicals?
There is much you can do in the way of non-chemical control to prevent and control bed bugs. Some methods include the use of specially designed mattress encasements, vacuums, steamers, hot washer and dryer settings, the disposal of infested items, and the use of a non-chemical disinfectant like Sterifab.
What is all this about special bed bug mattress covers? Can’t I just buy a regular mattress cover?
For bed bug prevention and control, an ordinary mattress cover will not suffice. The reason for this is that bed bugs are able to escape or feed through the fibers of an ordinary cover. Bed Bugs are also able to find their way through the loose teeth of the side zipper unless it is specially designed. Using an ineffective ncasement that was not designed for bed bug control will actually prove more etrimental than not using an encasement at all. We carry the full line of Protecta Bed Bug Mattress and Box Spring Covers that are bug entry, escape and bite roof.
Once I start a control program, how long will it take to achieve complete control?
You will see a significant improvement after the initial bed bug treatment. However, complete bed bug elimination takes patience, persistence, and time. Following an initial treatment and program implementation, you should continue to actively inspect the infested area for signs of bed bug infestation on a regular schedule (every 2 or 3 weeks) to monitor populations. Treatment will then need to be repeated on a bi-monthly to monthly bases until all signs of infestation disappear completely.
7. Where do bed bugs come from?
- In temperate zones on the planet
- Bed bugs have always been with us. However, their populations have been so small since the late 1950′s due to the powerful pesticides used during that time. Those insects that survived the onslaught of these control measures have slowly rebuilt their populations. In addition, the world has become a more accessible place for travelers and goods, making it easier for the insect to find new hosts.
- Bed bugs usually hide during the day. If you see them frequently during the day, this is usually an indication that an infestation is quite severe.
- They will usually hide near sleeping areas due to the host being available for longer periods of uninterrupted time in order for them to feed.
- They will hide behind the headboard, in the box spring, in furniture, behind wall hangings and baseboards, under wallpaper and rugs, in drapes and bed skirts. In such as luggage, used furniture, beds or bedding and/or clothing.
- They will migrate through a building using the wiring and pipe runs in the wall voids.
- Most often found in hotels, apartments, rooming houses, schools, private homes, homeless shelters, hostels. Also found in hospitals, nursing homes, trains, planes, buses, cruise ships, theaters, and moving vans.
8. Why should I be concerned about bed bugs?
- Bed bugs are parasites that feed on the blood of certain animals and people.
- Bed bugs typically bite people on the head and neck, but will also bite bare arms, torso, hands and legs.
- If you have as few as 40 bed bugs in your home, it is possible for them to reproduce to about 6,000 bugs in six months if there is sufficient food¡¦.you.
- The insect is easily spread and as such control becomes more difficult or sometimes impossible if left unchecked.
- Bed bugs have been discovered to harbor 28 different human pathogens, but fortunately, the transmission of these diseases to people has not been demonstrated.
9. Will bed bugs crawl through the zipper?
- Yes, they are quite capable of getting through a zipper unless this mechanism has been specifically chosen and tested to exclude bed bugs from penetrating this area.
- Zipper design is one of the most important aspects of a bed bug encasement product. The teeth must be small and tight enough to exclude bed bugs from moving through them. The end or closure of the zipper should have a mechanism or be constructed in a manner that prevents the insect from getting into or out of the encasement should it not be in a completely closed position.
10. I’ve seen/heard about other mattress covers. Some others seem flimsy. Will these tear/rip/develop holes as easily as those others.
- An encasement fabric and its construction should be able to withstand the rigors of continued use, including people jumping on beds, rubbing against the walls or edges of the mattress or box spring. There is nothing worse then taking the preventative or control measure of an encasement only to find it has torn.
11. I had bed bugs on my mattress and box spring. Don’t I have to throw them away?
No. If treated with a pesticide labeled for use on your mattress and box spring:
- Your PMP should do an inspection around 2 weeks after treatment to make sure any bed bugs or eggs that have survived the treatment are eliminated on this second visit. This may require another chemical application.
- If you have encased your mattress and box spring you do not need to throw them out. Remember, use a quality, laboratory tested product specifically.
12. I’m moving to another home/apartment. Should I cover my mattress and box spring with these products to protect them while in transit?
- It is common for a delivery truck moving your items to be infested with bed bugs. Encasements can be one way of protecting your box spring and mattress.
- You may not know you have a problem with bed bugs. Moving your items to a new location may only be transferring the problem there.
- If moving into a multi-unit housing building or a single family structure, you protect your mattress and box spring in case there is an existing problem.
13. Can I treat the cover with insecticides?
- Make sure the pesticide chosen is labeled for use on a mattress, box spring and encasement.