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Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, oval insects up to 4 to 5 mm long or the size of an apple seed. Swollen and reddish after a blood meal.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Bed bugs only feed on blood. Under cool conditions, bed bugs have been able to survive up to a year without a meal.They prefer to be more active at night when the host is asleep.
Found in cracks and crevices, including mattress seams, sheets, furniture, behind baseboards, electrical outlet plates and picture frames. Often found in hotels, where they can travel from room to room and in visitors’ luggage or other personal belongings such as purses and briefcases.Reproduction
Females can deposit one to five eggs a day, and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime. Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, they can live for more than 300 days.
There are many possible signs of bed bug activity. The first would be seeing the bugs. Adult bed bugs are about the shape and size of an apple seed. A second sign would be case skins. As the juvenile bugs grow, they shed their skins, discovery of which can indicate their presence.
After feeding, bed bugs return to their harborage to hide. They eventually defecate in these areas, which appears as black to brown stains on porous surfaces or black to brown mounds on nonporous surfaces.
Bites also may indicate bed bug activity, but further signs will need to be found, since other sources can cause red welts on the skin.
Bed bugs (often misspelled as bedbugs) are small, nocturnal, wingless insects that belong to the family of Cimicidae. They feed on human blood and other warm-blooded hosts. They are oval in shape and grow up to 4 to 5 mm long when fully grown. Their skin color is rust brown to a deeper red brown. Bed bugs are also known as “mahogany flats,” “red coats” and “chinches.” The adult bed bug does not have wings and has a flattened body.
Bed Bugs Petri Dish
Bed bugs are both dorsoventrally flattened and thin, which creates a great advantage for them. They can hide in unusual places such as behind baseboards, floor cracks, and under carpets or behind loose wallpaper, which can make them difficult to detect.
Not only can they be hard to detect, but bed bugs also tend to stay close together and have a distinctively sweet, yet unpleasant smell. Fecal smears on mattresses and nearby furnishings are also signs of a bed bug infestation.
Their bites can leave itchy welts on the skin and can cause allergic reactions, such as severe itching, though not everyone reacts to their bite.
Bed bugs have existed since the ancient times and are found throughout the world. There are different species of bed bugs, but the common bed bug (Cimexlectularius) is particularly adaptable to human environments.
Other species are known to prefer birds and bats but also will feed on humans if necessary. Since they can survive in birds’ nests, they can be seen in houses and buildings that have several bird nests, particularly on rooftops. .
Bed bugs have a great worldwide distribution, due to human travelers who transport them in luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. Though they may reside in unusual places, they are also likely to be found in small cracks near a bed or in comforters and bed sheets.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs
It’s possible to pick up bed bugs almost any place—they’ve infested offices, stores, hotels, gyms and countless other places. They can hide in your luggage, personal belongings, or even on you, and hitchhike a ride back to your home, condo, townhouse or apartment. Once indoors, they can be extremely difficult to control without the help of an experienced pest specialist.
A bed bug infestation has nothing to do with cleanliness — you can pick them up in the finest hotels, and they can hitchhike into the cleanest homes at any time. But, you can help reduce your chances of a costly bed bug infestation by catching them early.
When traveling, think of the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to remember the following action steps to help avoid bringing bed bugs home with you.
In the House
When at home, follow these handy tips to help keep bed bugs at bay.
If you know you have a bed bug problem, you may have difficulty sleeping and a great reluctance to even get into bed, which is normal when you fully expect to awaken the next morning covered in itchy bites. The best thing you can do is to not sleep somewhere else, as the bugs will very likely follow you. Instead, you should keep them isolated to one area and look into getting rid of them altogether.
If you are the type of person who does not have a lot of money to toss around to hire professionals, as extermination of bed bugs can become quite expensive, you might want to first try some home remedies to eliminate the pests. Vacuum your home thoroughly in the areas you know are infested. For good measure, you may also want to vacuum other rooms and areas, even if you doubt they are affected.
Wash your clothing and bedding as well. This will take care of any bed bugs that might be hiding in your carpets, rugs and garments. However, you will have to go a few steps farther in order to take care of the problem of the remaining bed bugs, especially those that are hiding in your bed and other furniture.
Investing in a good dry steamer, which is often used by many professional exterminators, is a good idea. With this machine, you can safely and effectively clean your entire bed, couch, wooden furniture and other items found around your home and eliminate the remaining bed bugs, as well as their eggs and larvae. You can buy a dry steamer at your local home improvement store or at a department store that carries such appliances, like Sears. Another option is to rent the machine if you are strapped for cash. However, it is well worth the money and will give you peace of mind in knowing that it is the most effective way of getting rid of your bed bug problem.
Unfortunately, most people lack the resources to be able to take care of their bed bug problem at home on their own. This is when they would have no other alternative but to turn to professional exterminators. These tend to be quite pricey, but very effective at the same time. It is also worth investing the time and money to hire a professional if you have a particularly bad bed bug infestation.
Bed Bug Treatment Preparation
Before the treatment begins, all occupants, including pets, must leave the unit and not enter for a minimum of –three to four hours after the technician arrives. Aquariums may remain in place as long as the filtration and aeration systems are turned off and the tank is adequately covered. Filtration and aeration equipment should be turned back on six hours after treatment. Anyone who is pregnant or has allergies or asthma should consult their doctor.
all clutter should be removed from the unit vacuum any carpeting and furnishings vacuum the mattress thoroughly including the crevices, handles and buttons vacuum the bed frame, baseboards and objects or flooring close to bed discard the vacuum bag in a tightly sealed garbage bag
remove all clothing from dressers and place in clean plastic bags or plastic totes bookshelves, nightstands or other furniture in the immediate area must be emptied so the technician can treat the underside of furniture
place all items in tightly sealed garbage bags and leave them in the room to be treated Laundering
All clothing items should be placed in garbage bags, sealed and emptied directly into the washing machine. It is important to launder items using hot water, as cold water will not kill bed bugs or their eggs. When the laundering cycle is complete, the clean laundry should be placed in new clear garbage bags and sealed during the treatment process. The garbage bags used for transporting clothing to the laundry room should be discarded outside of the premise, as they may contain bed bugs. If possible, for severe infestations, water-soluble bags should be used to collect sheets and clothing and put directly into the wash. All clean clothes should be put in the dryer on high for a minimum of 20 minutes. Some clothing may require dry cleaning.
All bedding must be removed before the technician arrives. Soiled bedding should be washed in hot water, separate from other laundry, or dry-cleaned before or soon after the treatment to avoid a resurgence of bed bugs. Pillows should also be placed in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes. After treatment, bedding should be tucked in tightly, and the bed kept a 6 inches away from the wall. Bed skirts should not be used.
All linen should be laundered. All toys should be washed in soapy, hot water and stuffed toys should be placed in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes.
Dressers and night tables
All contents of dressers are to be placed in garbage bags and placed in the dryer cycle on hot for a minimum of 20 minutes. All articles on top of the dresser are to be removed and placed in plastic bags or plastic totes. Bookshelves, nightstands or other furniture in the immediate area must be emptied so that the technician can treat the undersides of the furniture. Furniture and items should be moved at least (12 inches) away from the walls to facilitate treatment of the baseboards. Shelving and drawers should be clean.
All closets including linen closets are to be emptied. Clean articles should be placed in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes. All soiled articles need to be washed in hot water and then dried at high heat. Laundromat dryers may have lower heat settings and may not heat up to 120 F, so a full cycle should be used.
Sofas and chairs
All chair covers, throws and pillows must be laundered prior to treatment.
Disposal of furniture
Discarding beds, bedding and furniture is NOT a sound approach to bed bug control as new items can easily be re-infested. Furniture infested with bed bugs that cannot be salvaged needs to be disposed of in a manner that will prevent the further spread of the bugs. In the process of removing a piece of furniture, bed bugs can escape into hallways and make their way into new rooms or apartments, spreading the problem to new areas.
If you decide to throw out bed bug infested furniture:
take apart or damage the piece of furniture to ensure it cannot be reused, then wrap the furniture in plastic so bed bugs cannot escape—this should be done in the unit or home before it is removed
a mattress should be slashed or otherwise damaged to make it unusable, then wrapped in plastic so bed bugs cannot escape—this should be done in the unit or home before it is removed
put items in the trash shortly before pick-up, so they do not sit at the curb for a long time
Myths and Facts about Bed Bugs
Myth: Bed bugs are too small to see.
Fact: Although they may be difficult to find because they hide well, bed bugs are big enough to see with the naked eye. Bed bugs look similar to an apple seed in size and appearance.
Myth: Bed bugs are only found in homeless shelters; only poor or dirty people get them.
Fact: Bed bugs can be found in hotels, motels, dormitories, apartments, condos, private homes and even in some public places, such as businesses and offices. Anyone can get bed bugs.
Myth: Walking into a room that has bed bugs means you will get bed bugs.
Fact: Bed bugs do not jump. They spend 90 per cent of their time hiding and are usually active at night. Bed bugs avoid light and do not like to be disturbed.
Myth: Bed bugs cause disease.
Fact: Bed bugs are not considered a health hazard and do not transmit disease. Bed bug bites, however, can cause an allergic reac-tionsimilar to a mosquito bite in some people. Frequent scratching of the bite marks or picking the scabs can cause infections. Peo-ple who experience severe and/or repeated infestations can feel anxious, worried or ashamed.
Myth: Chemicals or pesticides will kill bed bugs.
Fact: Pesticide application alone will not kill bed bugs at all stages of their lifecycle. Successful treatment depends on an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to bed bug control. IPM involves vacuuming, inspection and laundering belongings, sealing cracks and gaps where bed bugs can hide, as well as the use of chemicals. Do not use over-the-counter pest control products or home remedies such as kerosene.
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