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Bed Bugs: Taking A Closer Look

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Parkway Pest Services received an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars star rating from 352 reviews. Read All Reviews

6/24/2014


close up of a bed bug on the ground

Bed bugs are parasitic insects of the cimicid family. This much dreaded pest feeds exclusively on blood. They like to lurk around in the dark of the night, crawling out of their daytime hiding spot and gravitating toward your warm, carbon dioxide-producing body in their quest to satisfy their blood craving. After their much-needed fill of your warm blood, the bed bug retreats back to hiding, leaving behind their red, itchy bites. You have now been introduced to the world of bed bugs.

 

There is an old saying, “Sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite.” However, it is no longer just an old saying. This pesky nuisance is back in business and not particular about where they take up residence as long as there are people around from which to satisfy their hunger. The bed bug is present throughout the United States and does not seem to have a geographic preference. It seems that shortly after World War II the bed bug infestation was largely wiped out. However, a gradual resistance to pesticides and the changes and increase in people’s traveling habits are largely responsible for the huge comeback. It would be safe to say that the bed bug is here to stay.

 

Bed bugs are very easily spread from place to place, as they are incredibly successful hitchhikers. While they are not known to transmit diseases and pose no serious health issues, the bed bugs are dreaded by all and extremely annoying. Their favorite places of residence include all residential housing, hotels, motels, apartments, dormitories, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and day care facilities. They also show up in restaurants, public transportation venues and just about anywhere people congregate.

 

More times than not, the victim is not even aware he has been bitten until much later when the red spots show up and the itching begins. This is due to the anesthetizing substance they inject during the initial bite that temporarily numbs the spot and their presence is not felt. The bed bug is both nocturnal and wingless. The name “bed bug” is a bit of a misnomer because your bed is only one of the many places in which they are discovered. They eat in five-minute intervals every five to ten days. Once they have their fill of your blood, they retreat into hiding until the need of food causes them to go searching for another warm body.

 

The presence of bed bugs is usually made known from the bite marks on your body but they can also be seen with a trained, attentive eye. Other signs of their presence include small dark stains on bed sheets and mattresses. This can be small blood spots as well as fecal matter. When traveling, it is very important to make a thorough inspection of your room prior to moving into a hotel or motel. Before carrying your luggage in, go through the room carefully. Pull back the bed sheets and look closely for tiny black spots of blood or fecal matter. Look in the ribbing on the edge of the mattress for any live bed bugs. Look inside the dresser drawers for live bugs or fecal matter. If nothing is found, bring luggage in but do not store it on the floor, as deep carpet is a great place for bed bugs to hide. Use the luggage rack provided by the establishment.

 

It may be noted also that the presence of bed bugs is not necessarily an indication of the cleanliness of the hotel. They are not like rodents or cockroaches. The presence of roaches and rats are a sign of sanitation issues. An infestation of bed bugs can take place almost overnight if they hitchhike in from the previous guests. However, most hotels are now teaching their housekeepers to inspect sheets and mattresses on a daily basis to insure early detection.

 

There are many places within a residence or hotel room in which the bed bug can hide and go undetected for long periods of time. The bed bug can survive many months in between feedings. In fact, it has been estimated that they can go as much as a year without eating. The multiple hiding places include the carpet, bed clothing, behind headboards, inside dresser drawers, behind wall switch plates, inside wall receptacles and behind the baseboard. It is obvious that, with their erratic eating habits and multiple places to hide, that professional services are required to find and remove an infestation of bed bugs.

 

An infestation of bed bugs can be a real threat to the economics of businesses. All businesses should have a bed bug response plan in place in the event an infestation would occur. Reputations can be quickly damaged once the word gets out that bed bugs reside in your commercial establishment. Business owners cannot afford to allow their reputation and image to be tarnished with the news of bed bug infestation. It is also worthy to note that correcting a major bed bug infestation is much more expensive than a proactive approach to minimizing bed bug contamination.

 

There are many highly effective bed bug services that are available today. These treatments are ideal for hotels, motels, hospitals, apartment complexes, college dormitories, schools and other commercial facilities. Some of the treatments to consider are as follows:

 

  • Bed Bug Canine Services

  • Bed Bug Heat Treatments

  • Preventative Treatments

  • Mattress and Box Spring Protective Covers

  • Bed Bug Client Learning Programs

 

Bed bug canine services have become helpful due to the evasiveness of this pesky creature. Even trained professional inspectors will only detect the visible signs of bed bugs with an average of a 30% success. To really find bed bugs, the inspector would have to strip the room down to bare walls, remove carpet, look inside and behind light switch covers and wall receptacles. However, trained K-9 bed bug dogs can detect these pests even inside walls with more than a 90% success rate. Most bed bug canines are trained to detect live bugs and viable eggs.

 

Another very effective service is bed bug heat treatments. As already mentioned, bed bugs are nocturnal and very elusive. This makes them an incredibly difficult pest to control because they are so good at hiding in the tiniest of cracks and for very long periods of time. The bed bug has also over the years been thought to have become resistant to some insecticides. For these reasons, heat treatment has rapidly become a choice method of control. Heat, in the form of steam, has become a very effective bed bug killer in treating bed bugs in carpet, behind baseboards and upholstered furniture. Hot dryers and portable heat chambers are sometimes needed to treat certain household items.

 

There are other advantages to heat treatments. Heat is not toxic and can be effective in killing all bed bug life stages. This includes bed bug eggs. Economically, a clothes dryer on high setting can be used effectively to treat all clothing, drapery and bed sheets and blankets.

 

There are a few tips to help prevent an infestation of bed bugs in your home.

 

  • Thoroughly inspect luggage and clothing upon returning from vacation. If even remotely suspicious, place items in the clothes dryer on a high heat cycle.

  • Never bring used mattresses, box springs or upholstered furniture into your home without inspecting and treating for potential bed bugs and bed bug eggs.

  • Seal cracks, crevices and baseboards with caulking to eliminate places in which bed bugs hide and reproduce.

  • Perform routine inspections with a flashlight, looking for live bugs, eggs, blood spots or fecal matter.

 

There are also mattress and box spring protective covers and encasements. Some covers are chemically impregnated but surprisingly not as effective as one would imagine. Encasements prevent bed bugs from getting inside the mattress or box springs and make detection very easy. Encasements also make follow up inspections much easier by eliminating the chances of bed bugs hiding inside the mattress or box springs.

 

Finally, there are bed bug client learning programs to benefit commercial establishments in the control and prevention of bed bugs. These much needed programs are designed to share essential knowledge of the biology, prevention and action strategies of the bed bug pest. These programs bring to light information on bed bug identification, inspections, bed bug behavior and biology, action strategies and treatment options for bed bugs and any health and operational risks as a result of bed bug infestations.

 

In summary, bed bugs, while not a health threat, can be devastating to both residential and commercial clients. While not a sign of neglect or filth, they can severely damage the hard earned image and reputation of businesses. However, continuing to spread knowledge about bed bugs and treatments that are available will go a long way in prevention. The bed bugs are back in rampant numbers throughout the United States but professional pest management companies have become highly trained and proficient in the care, treatment and management of such.


 
 
 

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