Bed bugs are one of the most feared of the pests that one may encounter. Even though they can be likened to being bitten by a mosquito, they like to hide on or near the bed and bite you when you are sleeping.
What do bed bugs look like?
Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long (about the size of an apple seed) and are rusty-red in colour. The larvae stages can be considerably smaller and darken with the next stages.
How do they breed?
Females lay eggs ( up to 500 a year) which hatch and go through 5 stages to reach adult stage.
Bed bug habits:
- Bed bugs must feed on human or animal blood in order to reproduce.
- As a survival instinct, bed bugs are elusive. They know to stay out of view during the daytime, hiding in mattress crevices, box springs, baseboards, behind electrical switch plates, in picture frames, and even behind wallpaper. But at nighttime, the carbon dioxide we exhale will tempt them out of their hiding places.
- Bed bugs have a predictable feeding pattern. Once a bed bug finds a host it will usually feed for 5 – 10 minutes until repletion. The bite mark they leave behind – often in clusters or in a row on exposed skin on the chest, arms or legs – are telltale signs of a bed bug infestation.
- After feeding, bed bugs move to secluded places and hide for 5 to 10 days. During this time, they do not feed but instead digest their meal, mate and lay eggs.
Where can bed bugs be found?
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as the seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, head boards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been known to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area.
These signs include:
- the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
- bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
- rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
- a sweet musty odor.
How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites. Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site and on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.
How did I get bed bugs?
Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture and anywhere else they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.
Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?
Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.
How are bed bugs treated and prevented?
Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an anti- histamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or Reliance Pest Management that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation. Bed bugs can survive temperatures of nearly freezing to 122 degrees F. Be aware that treating bed bugs by using “heat treatments” where an area is treated to a very hot temperature can damage electronic equipment including thermostats.
Bed bugs only bite in the dark.
False. Although bed bugs tend to be more active at night, they can bite at anytime.
If I see bite marks I have bed bugs.
False. Other insect bites may resemble that of bed bugs. Presence of live bed bugs or their eggs will confirm their infestation in an area.
If you have bed bugs you need to get rid of infested clothing and furniture.
False. Clothing can be placed in a dryer for 20 – 30 minutes on high heat to get rid of bed bugs and eggs. In most cases furniture can be treated and should only be discarded if there are no acceptable treatments that can rid them of bed bugs.
Bed bugs are not known to cause or spread diseases.
False. Bed bugs have not been shown to cause or spread diseases. Some people will react to bed bug bites and excessive scratching can lead to secondary infections.
What health risks do bed bugs pose?
A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.
Bed bugs cannot fly and will not jump from the floor to the bed.
True. Bed bugs have no wings and cannot fly, jump or hop.
Bed bugs are only found on the bed.
False. Although they are called bed bugs they are not only confined to the bed. Bed bugs are commonly found in beds, on sofas, in chairs and areas near where people sleep or lounge.
Bed bugs can live for many months without feeding.
True. Bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding on a host.
A bed bug inspection needs scent detecting dogs to really tell where bed bugs are.
False. Bed bug scent dogs can be helpful, but are rarely necessary. Some bed bug scent dogs can signal the presence of a bed bug even when there is none and may even miss some, with results varying according to the training the dog receives, the experience of the handler, and other factors.
Encasing a mattress and box spring will prevent future bed bug infestations in your home.
False. Encasements will help prevent a mattress or box spring from becoming infested or being a reservoir for bed bugs, but bed bugs can still find their way onto a bed to bite. And if bed bugs cannot live in a mattress or box spring, they will live somewhere else. Encasements are a good tool but are not sufficient to prevent or treat an infestation.
After revealing all the facts about bed bugs, it is important to understand that bed bugs do not choose a certain race or whether you are a clean person or not. They can even be transported to your home by sleeping at someone’s place who have a bed bug issue, having someone stay at your place, staying at a hotel, riding a bus or taxi, visiting a theatre…anywhere there is other people.
Preparation by the tenant or home owner
- remove all bedding and place in a bag tied up…leave in the room
- no need to leave the home during treatment
The treatment for bed bugs does not utilize any chemicals. There is a “one-time” price which includes:
- inspection of all beds and other furniture
- treatment of all beds and couches if applicable
- bed bug covers for box springs if applicable
- one follow up visit after the treatment and another one month later
- special price for treating homes or suites that are vacant
- special price for proactive treatment
- Special offer for inspecting homes prior to moving in that would detect any pest issues present