What You Need to Know About Bed Bugs

June 2, 2014


What Is A Bed Bug?

Climex lectularius L., commonly known as bed bugs, are flat, oval, reddish-brown insects about the size of an apple seed (up to four to five mm long). “Bed Bug” is spelled out as two words, not one. A member of the Cimicidae family, these nocturnal, wingless insect bugs are also known as “chinches,” “mahogany flats,” and “red coats.” 

bed bug crawling on a box spring

Found throughout the world and having existed since ancient times, the common bed bug can readily adapt to the human environment. A bed bug’s diet consists only of blood. They appear reddish and swollen immediately after consuming a blood meal. Bed bugs have been known to survive as long as a full year in cool conditions without eating.

Bed bugs can be found behind baseboards, in electrical outlet plates, in furniture, in the seams of mattresses, and even in picture frames. They often travel from room to room in hotels, stowing away in guests’ briefcases, luggage, and purses. Bed bugs are more active at night when the potential food sources are asleep.

Female bed bugs can lay anywhere from 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime, at the rate of one to five eggs per day. The bed bug can live for over 300 days with a sufficient food supply and normal room temperatures.

Do I Have A Bed Bug Infestation?

Finding evidence of bed bug activity is not difficult when you know what you are looking for. The first sign would of course be seeing the bed bugs. Bed bugs attain the size and shape of an apple seed as adults. Bed bugs also shed their skins as the juvenile bugs mature into adults. Finding these case skins can indicate the presence of a bed bug infestation.

Bed bugs return to a safe place to hide each time they finish feeding. Brown to black mounds on nonporous surfaces and brown to black stains on porous surfaces indicate places where bed bugs have defecated and likely locations of infestation. Be on the lookout for fecal smears on and near mattresses as evidence of bed bugs. 

While there are many causes of red welts on the skin, bed bug bites might be the cause. Although not everyone is affected, itchy welts and allergic reactions are often the results of bed bug bites. Further investigation for bed bug activity may be warranted if unexplainable red welts are frequently found on the skin.

What Else Should I Know About Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs have the great advantage of being both thin and dorsoventrally flattened. Their ability to hide in the strangest places, such as behind loose wallpaper, behind baseboards, in cracks in the floor, and under carpets, often allows them to go undetected unless you are looking for them. Bed bugs tend to be found in groups and have an unpleasant sweet smell. 

There are other species of bed bugs that prefer to feed on the blood of bats and birds but will feed on humans if the other choices are not available. Bed bugs can survive in birds’ nests and can be found in buildings and houses which have bird nests on the rooftops.

How Can I Get Rid of My Bed Bug Infestation?

Bed bugs are no stranger to the sentiments of the song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Bed bugs have infested a countless number of places, including public transportation, gyms, hotels, offices, stores—bed bugs can be picked up almost any place. Bed bugs can stow away on you, your personal belongings, or your luggage, and hitchhike undetected back to your apartment, condo, home, or townhouse. Once they have made themselves at home in your residence, it can be very difficult to evict them without the aid of an experienced pest specialist.

Cleanliness has nothing to do with a bed bug infestation — you can acquire bed bugs in the finest hotels, and they can make themselves at home in the cleanest residence at any time. However, if you catch a bed bug infestation early, it can save you the expense of a much more costly extermination and repair project down the road.

How Can I Prevent Bed Bugs From Coming Home With Me?

Remembering the acronym S.L.E.E.P. and the following action steps it stands for can help you avoid bringing bed bugs home with you when traveling.

  • Survey surfaces for minuscule spots the color of rust or any other signs of infestation on bed sheets and skirts, in the seams, or on the tags of mattresses.
  • Lift and look underneath the bed frame, headboard, furniture, and mattress for any bed bug harborage. Bed bugs typically feed at night, but they can most likely be located within a 1.5-meter radius of the bed during the day.
  • Elevate luggage and other personal belongings on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, as bed bugs like to hide behind the artwork, electrical outlet panels, headboards, and picture frames.
  • Examine luggage thoroughly while repacking and once you have returned to your residence. Never set your luggage on the bed and always store it somewhere far away from your bedroom.
  • Place all clothing from your luggage in the dryer immediately upon returning home from travel. Run the dryer at the highest setting for at least 15 minutes.

How Can I Protect My Home from a Bed Bug Infestation?

The following tips will help prevent a bed bug infestation in your home.

  • Bed bugs are easier to find if you remove any clutter from your home, especially in the bedroom.
  • Bed linens should be washed and dried often using the hottest temperature allowed in the fabric’s care instructions.
  • Any second-hand furniture should be closely inspected for bed bugs before being brought into the residence.
  • You should regularly inspect your residence for bed bugs—after moving in, entertaining overnight guests, returning from a trip, being visited by a service worker, etc.

If you think you might have a bed bug infestation, tell your landlord immediately if you are renting, or contact a local pest control expert if you own your property.  A pest management provider can discuss with you a customized plan for eliminating your bed bugs. Early detection of a bed bug infestation is critical, as they can multiply quickly into a much larger and more costly infestation.

For all your Bed Bug problems, including bed bug treatments, heat treatments, and canine dog bed bug inspections, contact us at Alliance Pest Services today.

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