Why have Bed Bugs all of a sudden gone from a nursery rhyme to the “Hot Topic” on the news?
Many factors have contributed to this apparently sudden bed bug resurgence. It is hard to say that any one factor is the most important for the reoccurrence of the bed bug. In the mid to late 90’s bed bugs began appearing all across the United States as well as world-wide. The spread of these insect hitchhikers has elevated because they are readily transported in luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. They are being found in motels, hotels,(including high end 5 star resorts) apartments complexes, college dorms, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, single family homes, movie theaters, laundries/dry cleaners, shelters, schools, furniture rental outlets, thrift stores, office buildings and all modes of transportation including trains, planes, ships, and buses. While no one knows why they have made such a drastic comeback some explanations include changes in pest control practices and fewer pesticides being available to the pest control companies and much less current overall public and pest management knowledge about these bugs, their biology and effective control strategies. Many pest management companies in developed countries have only begun trying to learn about and control bed bugs in the last 6-8 years. There have also been changes in available less toxic, less persistent chemical active ingredients and formulations. Immigration and international travel have undoubtedly contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the United States along with an increase in second hand merchandise such as bedding and furniture. A very big issue is that people do not recognize bed bugs or the signs of infestation. Until recently most people under the age of 50 had never seen a bed bug.
What do Bed Bugs look like?
Adult bed bugs are small oval wingless insects just under a ¼ inch long and are relatively flat. They are reddish-brown in color and sometimes are mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Well-developed antennae, small eyes and the area behind the head expand forward on either side of the head. The body becomes more elongate, swollen and dark after a blood meal. Immature bed bugs look very much like adults but are much smaller and lighter in color. Newly hatched eggs are the size of a dust speck and transparent in color, almost impossible to see with the naked eye.
Are Bed Bugs only found in beds?
Bed bugs live in many areas of the room. While their favorite spot is close to the food source, you will find them harboring in the seams of the mattresses, box springs, bed frames and head boards. Nightstands are also a favorite spot where they find security in the cracks and crevices of the corner of drawers. Because of their flat bodies they can fit into any space a piece of paper can fit into. Bed bugs are lazy insects, they will stay as close to their hosts as possible so they don’t have to travel very far to feed. Bed bugs do not fly or jump, they must walk or hitchhike to their feeding place.
If I brought Bed Bugs home with me how long would it be before I knew I had them?
The adult females typically deposit up to 5 eggs per day depositing them in a wide variety of locations, both on and away from the bed. An adult female may lay up to 500 eggs during her life time. Bed bugs are nocturnal insects and lead a very cryptic lifestyle. As a result, bed bugs are often present for weeks or even months before a single bug is ever seen by the occupants of an infested structure.
What do Bed Bugs eat?
Bed bugs differ from many other blood feeding pests such as mosquitoes, fleas, etc. in that both male and female adults, as well as all of the immature stages feed on blood. Once they have fed they return back to their hidden resting places. In the absence of a host, bed bugs can continue to survive for many months without a blood meal. In fact it has been reported that in some cases bed bugs can survive 6 to 8 months or more without feeding.
Can I feel the bite of a Bed Bug?
The bites themselves are not painful and typically not felt. The reaction to the bite can also vary quite a bit from one person to the next. The most common reaction is similar to that of a mosquito bite, however, some reactions can be more severe and then there are some individuals who do not react to the bite at all. The effects of bed bug bites vary among people. Depending on the intensity and frequency of the bites the effects can vary from no reaction, delayed reaction, to immediate reaction.
Will Cleanliness keep Bed Bugs from taking up residence at my house?
Bed bugs are an equal opportunity pest. They infest across the country from homes of the rich and famous, luxury apartments and upscale suburban homes. Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not caused by filth or dirt. Like fleas, and lice, bed bugs are creatures of convenience. They are a nuisance insect, they are not known to carry disease but they can cause considerable discomfort, both mental and physical.
How do I dispose of Bed Bug infested furniture?
Furniture and bedding should be destroyed beyond usable condition by either cutting it up or using spray paint. It should then be wrapped in plastic to avoid dropping any insects along the way and labeled identifying “Bed Bugs”. Second hand furniture is a source of spreading bed bugs from one location to another.