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Bed Bug Pest Control

A Comprehensive Guide to Bed Bugs

Mature Bed Bug
Common name Scientific name
Bed Bug Cimex lectularius
Tropical Bed Bug Cimex hemipterus

 

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are vermin, which preferentially feed on human blood. If human blood is not available, they have to settle for warm-blooded animals such as rodents, bats, birds, or pets.

 

The earliest records of bed bugs were in the 17th century. In the United States, bed bug information was introduced to the people inhabiting the country by early immigrants. There were a lot of cases of bed bug infestation in residential homes prior to World War II. Pesticides like DDT were commonly used to treat bed bug infestation, but after World War II, the usage of fumigation was significantly reduced. Rather, home dwellers improved personal and household cleanliness and regulations on used furniture in the market became more stringent. It resulted to a dramatic reduction of infestations.

 

In spite of the efforts of reducing bed bug infestations, they seemed to make a comeback across the United State in the past decade.The market seemed to be flooded with baits for bed bug treatment more than insecticides for cockroach and ant management. Bed bugs do not feed on ants or cockroach bait for they feed on blood.

 

According to most bed bug information, the international travel, furniture importation, and commerce are the reasons for their return. They typically “hitchhike” on clothing, luggage, furniture, and bedding. Airports and airplanes become easily infested because of these insect hitchhikers and so are trains, buses, and ships. Not only are they present on public transportation vehicles, but they also dwell in places where there is a frequent turnover of occupants such as motels, hotels, apartments, dormitories, and shelters. More often than not, bed bug infestation is not accounted to poor household maintenance or hygiene.

 

How Bed Bugs Spread

Most of the bed bug information that we know today reveals thwm as rather cosmopolitan. Cimex lectlarius is a kind of bed bug mainly found in northern temperate climates of Europe, North America, and Central Asia. In their southern temperate climate counterparts, however, bed bug infestation occurs infrequently. C. hemipterus, also known as the tropical bed bug, likes warm areas such as Africa and tropics of North and South America. In Florida, the common bed bug is C. hemipterus.

 

How do Bed Bugs look like?

Adult bed bugs are usually reddish-brown to brown. They usually mature to 3/16 to 1/5 inches. Adult bed bugs have tiny, thick, and non-functional wing pads. They are flat and oval shaped. Their flattened form makes them ease through crevices or cracks with no trouble which is how they hide themselves during the day. When they feed, their form swells, elongates, and they change into a dark red colour. They suck blood through their piercing beaks or mouths.

 

Nymphs or newly hatched bed bugs are near enough colourless, but they have the same features as adults. They will develop into the same colour as an adult bed bug as they mature. The eggs are white in colour and 1/32 inch in length.

 

Their appearance is closely related to other insects such as bat bugs, chimney swift bugs, and swallows bugs. You would need a microscope to determine the difference between them. Some states don’t have bed bugs rather it is actually another kind of insect from the same family Cimicidae.

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The Life Cycle of Bed Bugs

In the adult life of a female bed bug, it can lay up to twelve eggs in a day. Their preferred nesting grounds are rough surfaces and crevices or cracks. They stick to these surfaces due to an adhesive deposited by the female with the egg. It takes six to seventeen days before the egg hatches. When nymphs hatch, they instantly begin feeding as they need a meal of blood in order to shed. Initially after the fifth moult, they have already reached the peak of their maturity. Therefore, the period of growth depends on the food and temperature. However, nymphs and adult bed bugs can live up to several months without feeding. A typical life span of an adult bed bug is twelve to eighteen months. In a year, there will be at least three generations of bed bugs spawned.

 

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The Common Behaviour of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are nocturnal meaning they hide during the day and feed during the night. They move fast and hide well because of their biological structure. At night, they feed on the host while asleep and they use their sharp beak or mouth system to pierce the skin of the host. A salivary fluid is injected containing anticoagulant substances so they can obtain blood. Nymphs feed for up to three minutes and become swollen with blood. A full-grown adult bed bug requires fifteen minutes to feed, and then they hide in crevices or cracks to digest their blood meals.

 

Bed bug information about their hiding places can be quite helpful in treating the infestation. Their dark hiding places are usually small cracks and crevices where they can fit themselves into. More often than not, they choose hiding-spots near their feeding grounds or where their host usually sleeps. They prefer wood, paper, and fabric surfaces which are why you can usually see them in seams, tufts, and the folds of mattresses. When they spawn enough, their dwelling grounds will expand to the crevices of the bedstead and places under the bed. You can also see them in various places in the house, not just in the bedroom.

 

Bed Bug Bites

A bed bug bite is painless. However, the salivary fluid causes irritation and inflammation of the area. The inflammation differs depending on the sensitivity of the skin. A white welt, which is typically swollen, hard and small, forms at the site where a host is bitten. It will be itchy for a couple of days and scratching will cause the marks to be infected. There is no significant blood loss that can adversely affect a host. It is common to see a row of welts in the skin which is a distinct to bed bugs. In spite of their seemingly harmless bites, bed bug information exposes them as carriers of diseases. People with a bed bug infestation in their homes are stressed, anxious, and they have difficulty sleeping at night.

 

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Tell-tale Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

 

To administer effective bed bug treatments, you need to determine how severe the infestation is. Tell-tale signs can be seen when you have a bed bug infestation in your home. Blood stains, dark excrements, faecal matter, eggshells, and skins can be discovered in their hiding places, mattresses, bedding, and even walls. A musty, offensive odour can be detected in the room if the bed bug infestation is severe. This odour comes from their scent glands.

 

Effective Bed Bug Treatments

 

First, you should identify if there is a bed bug infestation at your home so you can figure out what measures to use for managing the infestation. It is better to research on the behaviour and biological structure of the bed bugs. As mentioned previously, there are insects that look like the bed bug so you must carefully determine what kind of infestation you have. Sanitation, preventive actions, and chemicals are used for bed bug treatments. In severe cases of infestation, there is an imminent need to call for professional.

 

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

 

Remember to be extra wary of furniture, luggage, clothing, and bedding that may come from an infested area. There is a high probability they may be infested with bed bugs. They must be carefully inspected for tell-tale signs. You must also prepare cracks and crevices in your building so there won’t be hiding places for these bugs. Check your pets if they might be carrying these pests.

Inspection

The whole household must be thoroughly inspected to know the spawning grounds of the bed bugs. This will increase the effectiveness of bed bus treatments. Everything from bed frames, mattresses, to box springs and bed frames should be inspected. Don’t forget to check the walls for cracks and crevices where the bed bugs hide during daytime. Furthermore, you should inspect door frames, windows, floors, carpets, and even electric boxes. It is also advisable to check if birds or rodents are nesting in the household since they can carry and host these pests around the area.

Cleanliness

To maintain a bed-bug free household, sanitation measures should be frequently applied all throughout the household. You should vacuum mattresses and the bedroom premises regularly, if possible daily. The vacuum bag should be sealed tightly and immediately disposed outside the house. Bedding and clothing should be laundered in hot water. It is best to clean mattresses regularly with a stiff brush so any eggs and bed bugs will be scrubbed off. Although discarding the mattress and buying a new one is a less tedious option, a new mattress can be easily infected by bed bugs if other areas where they might be spawning have not yet been treated. Steam cleaning is not recommended because moisture can lead to mould, dust mites, and mildew.

 

Cracks should be repaired with plaster and wallpapers should be glued meticulously so harbourage sites will be totally eliminated. Dispose, remove and destroy any wild animal nests and roosts.

 

Entrapping the Bed Bugs

 

It was mentioned earlier that bed bugs can live for long periods of time without having to feed. Therefore, any trapping measures should be done for about a year or so to ensure the effectiveness of bed bug treatments. Mattresses should be enclosed in a mattress cover such as the zipped ones used for house dust mites. Bed bugs that cannot be reached by chemicals can be trapped inside thus they cannot feed.

Any bed bug wandering around can be captured with glue boards or sticky traps. Nevertheless, there is no adequate bed bug information attesting to the effectiveness of this entrapment method.

 

Insecticides and Other Substances

Pyrethroids are usually the kind of insecticides used for bed bug treatments. They are applied to cracks and crevices where bed bugs usually hide out. You can increase the penetration of these insecticides if you clean out any debris inside these crevices first with a vacuum. Repellent formulations can cause bed bugs to spread in many places; therefore, it is recommended to avoid using such. Dust formulations can be used for bed bug treatments in attics and walls. These applications should be repeated after a week or so to guarantee the elimination of bed bug infestation. There are places that cannot be penetrated by these insecticides. Thus, new nymphs might hatch after the first application.

 

Insecticides are chemicals which may be harmful to the well-being of home dwellers. Therefore, do not use insecticides in places wherein people have long exposure to it such as mattresses. There are insecticides that can be used in these places but be sure to check the label first. When applying pesticide, use light mists on mattresses, seams, tufts, and folds. Completely dry these areas before using them as chemicals may have an adverse reaction to skin and the overall health. Do not chemically treat mattresses used by ill people or infants. Instead, you should use sanitation measures or trapping bed bug treatments.

 

Insecticides cannot be applied to bedding or linens. Therefore, these things should be dried, cleaned, and laundered in hot water or with the “hot” setting on washing machines.

 

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