Its common modern perception to consider bed bugs a thing of the past - some mythical, microscopic creature crawling in the night that we grew up singing lullabies about. For the most part, this used to be true. Since the 1940's, due to the invention of the vacuum and technological advancement in chemical uses as pesticides (such as DDT and Pyrethroids), they all but disappeared. But they're back!
The last decade has seen a massive recurrence of bed bugs. Widespread increases in bed bug infestations can be attributed to several factors:
- Increased international commerce and travel
- Growing urban population density
- Growing pesticide resistance
- Changes in indoor pest management tactics
- Lack of awareness by the general public.
Bed bugs are what we call "hitchhikers" - they move from place to place by hitching a ride on shoes, bags, clothing, etc. The convenience of modern living makes travel and resources readily accessible, but not only for us human beings. Every flight that helps us reach a new destination in a few hours is the same quick and easy flight for bugs. Public transit that ease urban commute is also a highway for unwanted pests. In urban apartment dwellings, the closer your neighbors are, the higher the chances of cross-contamination if an infestation makes its way into the building.
We don't mean to scare you, we want to prepare you. AWARENESS is essential when it comes to any urban pest, but particularly in areas with high exposure for bed bug infestation. So here are some basic facts.
BED BUG BASICS
- Reddish brown, flat and oval shaped.
- Adults are about the size, shape and color of a flax seed or an apple seed.
- Nymphs are small, translucent and shed their skin (molt) 5 or 6 times before becoming adults.
- They are blood feeders, so their reddish color comes from the blood that they feed on. You might find blood spots on your sheets along with black fecal stains.
- Otherwise they are translucent, and yellow-white in color. It’s easy to see their organs after they have fed.
- Often hide near bedding areas, but can move more than 100 feet to obtain a blood meal.
- Bites are painless, but an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bugs as they feed results in itchy, red and swollen bumps, typically in straight lines. This happens to approximately 50% to 70% of people.
- Eggs are very hard to detect. They’re like micro-grains of rice covered with a sticky substance, so they can hang on to clothing, fabric, leather, etc. Females lay up to 7 a day and hundreds in a lifetime. A single pregnant female can cause an infestation of over 30,000 bed bugs within 6 months!
- They live in harborages, a fancy word for nest. You'll find their fecal matter, eggs, shed exoskeletons (castings) and all stages of life in large harborages.
BED BUG TREATMENT:
Unfortunately there is no "silver bullet" for bed bugs. There's no one-time spray, no magic repellant, no trinkets you can buy to get them to go away once their in. Its a lot of hard work and thorough followup to get rid of them. If you suspect you have an infestation get started with an inspection by a professional! Bed bugs don't just hide in beds - they're crafty creatures that spend 90% of their lives in hiding and are very clever with finding hiding spots. You wouldn't believe some of the places we've found them.
Once their presence is established a lot needs to happen so we follow these simple steps:
Get ORGANIZED: Develop a plan of action to be used as a roadmap. Just like when we plan our vacation or a family trip, we get a plan together - set up checklists, set up target dates, set up a list of materials we’ll need, and then begin the venture.
PREPARATION: This is the singular key element to combatting bed bugs. Though you hire a professional for treatment they will require some preparation by you. This is hard work! Sort through your belongings. Start by reducing the clutter. Bed bugs hide 90% of the time - they will find all the nooks and crannies of your stuff to hide in. Keep in mind that they can travel through cracks no wider than the width of a credit card. This is a GREAT time to inventory your stuff, and separate for possible disposal or donation after treatment.
Gather a supply of plastic storage bins. Bed bugs cannot climb up the slippery surface so these are useful as treatment chambers, and for future storage. Treated items can also be donated, with the plastic bins returned to you.
Once all of your belongings have been inspected and prepped it time for ACTION. Our practice is Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which means a lot of problem-solving, common sense and old-fashioned tactics are implemented: specialized vacuuming, deep cleaning, laundering, and select chemical application, to mention a few.
FOLLOWUP! We followup multiple times until the problem is controlled. As we said, there's no silver bullet or one-stop shop for bed bugs so followup is key.