Bed Bugs

January 27, 2010 by  

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most intimidating pests around. They can create a fear in humans unmatched by any other insect. In 2004, it is estimated that in the U.S. they had increased in number by 500% compared to the preceding 3 years. The increase is due to more than one factor including; integrated pest management (not using chemicals) in many areas, resistance to chemicals, increased visitation from foreign countries, and incorrect identification of the insects by physicians which allows the infestations to increase to huge levels. Bed bugs were almost unheard of in the U.S.  Until the 1990’s when they made a huge comeback.

Female bed bugs lay 1-5 eggs per day up to about 500 when they will die. Bed bugs need human blood for survival but can also feed on pets if humans are not available. They prefer exposed skin and will feed for 3-5 minutes when people are sleeping. This is one of the reasons they can be such a psychological problem. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to the bites, having a welt that looks like a mosquito bite. Others may show no signs whatsoever. They have been known to carry up to 25 different disease organisms but there is no proof that they transfer diseases as of yet. The bites usually only itch or become slight welts.

Bed Bugs can “hitch hike” very easily from one place to another, by getting into bags and luggage. The bugs only require the thickness of a credit card to hide or reproduce so many cracks and crevices become the main areas of infestation. Headboards, mattresses, box springs, couches, and other furniture are the primary areas due to humans sleeping and becoming easy, close targets. When infestations grow in numbers, other areas become infested such as: pictures, light sockets, wallpaper, curtains and even ceilings along the wall. Hotels and Motels can become heavily infested when the bugs transfer from room to room. Homeowners can transfer the bed bugs to their personal residence with luggage and clothing after staying in infested hotels. Hospitals can also become infested.

Clues to having bed bugs will include: reddish stains on bedding which is the blood they feed on, bites on the body after sleeping, they can also release a unique odor when numbers are high. At this point, it is time to treat the entire area.

Treatments can be time consuming and require multiple trips to ensure the death of all bugs. Any clothing, toys, stuffed animals or linens that can be washed and dried on high heat is required. Dusts and sprays can then be used on cracks, crevices, wall voids, light sockets, seams in carpet and furniture, and underneath mattresses. Headboards and mattresses that are heavily infested should be thrown away if possible. Some companies are now using dogs to detect infestations as well as high heat treatments. Many treatments are very expensive. There does not appear to be an end to bed bugs in the near future.

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