Bed bugs are making a comeback in the US after having lain dormant since the 1950s. No one knows exactly why they’re back, but some people theorize that increased travel may be to blame. The ability to fly across the world in less than 24 hours allows bed bugs that have attached themselves to luggage or clothing to spread far and wide; much quicker than ever before. These insects can also be brought into homes on second hand items, including used clothes and furniture. Once they are present in one apartment unit, they are likely spread to other units in the building. It’s very important to know the basics about these biting insects so that you can reduce your chances of being exposed to them. People that have bed bugs in their homes report spending hundreds of dollars on ineffective home remedies before tossing their infested clothing, furniture and other belongings out into the streets out of sheer frustration. Here are the 10 things you should know about these insects to help maintain a bed bug free home:
- Bed bugs are TINY parasitic insects that are flat, brownish-red and wingless. About the size of an apple seed, they are masters at hiding. During the daytime hours, they find a ‘refugia’; any location where they can hide and not be out in the open. This can include the spaces inside your mattress or box spring, in wall voids and under floor boards, in the crevices of furniture and even inside electronics or behind pictures on the wall. At night they will travel as far as 20 feet for a blood meal and then travel back again to their hiding places.
- Having a bed bug population in your home is not considered an issue of bad housekeeping. You can have a clean home and still harbor these biting insects. If you don’t have the cleanest house on the block, simply improving sanitation levels alone will not get rid of an established population. These bugs can be brought into your home on a guest, on used clothing or furniture, or even your own suitcase if you recently spent time in a bed bug infested hotel. If your home is cluttered, this leaves a lot of excellent hiding places for bed bugs, but clutter alone will not be the cause of your infestation.
- Bed bugs, also known as Cimex lectularius, are actually a parasite that feed off of human blood, as well as the blood of other warm blooded animals. There is a desensitizing agent in their saliva that causes their bite to be painless; the victim may not feel a thing.
- These insects can live up to a year without feeding, but prefer to feed every five to ten days. When they do feed, they can take in up to five times their weight in blood in less than five minutes.
- When there is a severe infestation of these bugs, some people report a strong sweet and musky smell. The odor comes from their feces and some people say it smells of coriander. Some biologists even believe that different populations of these nighttime pests will smell differently to a trained nose.
- They are not a new problem. They have been bothering humans for thousands of years. There is archeological evidence that suggests they were even bothering the workers that built the ancient Egyptian tombs.
- They can be detected by the clues they leave behind. Shed exoskeletons, leave blood stains and black fecal spots on bed linens are a couple signs of an active problem. Bite marks on their victims are also obvious clues that these biting insects are present. These look like small bug bites, the size of a pin prick that often lead in a trail along the skin, or in little clusters.
- They were widespread in the early 20th century and with the use of DDT in the 40s and 50s, they had mostly disappeared until the mid-nineties. Now that populations are re-emerging, people are finding bed bug extermination more difficult because some species have developed a resistance to various pesticides, including DDT.
- There are ways to avoid infestations of these bugs. You should be very careful when acquiring used goods, especially things like beds and upholstered furniture. Secondhand items should be examined closely for the telltale signs of bed bugs before being brought into a home, or should be avoided altogether. When staying in hotels, motels, dormitories, hospitals and other commercial facilities, closely inspect the bedding, mattress and furniture for signs of these insects to make sure you don’t bring them home with you when you leave.
- For a serious infestation, contacting a pest control company is necessary to fully eradicate the problem. Because sanitizing and cleaning alone will not get rid of a bed bug problem, successful eradication requires locating all of their hiding places as well as detailed knowledge of how they operate.
If you think bed bugs have infested your home or business, contacting a pest control company who offers pest control in your area is the best way to keep your property pest free.