Although totally different from Head Lice, they share some similarities. They feed on human blood, but will also bite mammals and birds. The main difference is that they can survive for up to six (6) months without feeding.
What are bed bugs?
- Bed bugs are insects with an oval shaped body without wings.
- An adult is approximately 1/4 inch long and flat as paper.
- After feeding, they become bloated and turn dark red.
- Eggs are whitish, pear shaped and about the size of a pinhead usually found in clusters.
- Eggs can be found in clusters of 10-50 in cracks and crevices.
- Bed bugs have a life span of up to one year during which time a female can lay from 200 to 400 eggs depending on food supply and temperature.
- Eggs hatch in about 10 days.
What do bed bugs feed on?
Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood, but will also bite mammals, birds or any warm blooded animal. Bed bugs feed at night and are known to bite all over the human body apparently preferring the face, neck, upper torso, arms and hands. Both male and female bed bugs bite and can survive up to six months without feeding.
How do bed bugs get into my house?
Bed bugs are most often carried into a home on objects such as furniture, clothing or luggage. If you think you have a bed bug problem, it will be wise to check for live bed bugs or shells in these areas of the home:
- Behind baseboards and around window or door casings
- Behind electrical plates and under wallpaper seams that are open, behind posters and paintings
- Between the folds of a curtain
- Under chairs, couches, beds or dust covers
- Seams, tufts and folds of mattresses and box springs or in furniture creases
- Cracks or joints in the bed frame, head or foot board
- Inside furniture drawers
- Under area rugs or the edge of carpet
- Inside cracks or joints of plaster or drywall
- Inside telephones clocks or radios or any electrical equipment
Bed bugs are also able to travel from apartment to apartment on plumbing pipes, electrical wiring or any other opening that joins living areas. If the infestation is extremely heavy, it may be possible to notice a “sweet” odour in the room.
Can I get sick from bed bugs?
There are no documented cases of any infectious disease being transmitted by bed bug mites. In many cases, people are not even aware that they have been bitten. Some people are much more sensitive to the bite and will have a localized reaction (itching). Scratching the bite area can (as with any open sore) lead to infection.
What do Bed Bug Bites look like?
When a bed bug bites a human, they inject their saliva into the biting area usually causing the skin to become irritated and inflamed. Individual symptoms to a bed bug bite will vary. The skin lesion from a bed bug bite may go completely unnoticed, be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or some other skin condition.
Four types of skin rash are commonly found:
- Most commonly found is a rash made up of localized red and usually itchy but flat lesions. The classic bed bug bite is presented in a linear fashion in a group of three which is often referred to as “breakfast, lunch and dinner”.
- Small raised red swelling lesions are also common
- In rare cases, people may develop large raised, often itchy, red welts.
- In people with high sensitivity to bed bug saliva, people may develop a raised lump filled with blood or fluid.
How do I treat bed bug bites?
Most bites go away without treatment of any kind. Keep the area clean and try not to scratch. If the bite area is very itchy, your doctor may prescribe a topical cream or antihistamine to help relieve the itchiness. In the event that a secondary skin infection is present due to excessive scratching, an oral antibiotic may be necessary in extreme cases. Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist.
How do I prevent bed bugs from entering my home?
- Even the cleanest of homes and hotels can have bed bugs. Regular house cleaning including vacuuming your mattress can help to prevent an infestation. Clean up clutter to help reduce the number of areas that bed bugs can hide.
- Be careful when buying used furniture or clothing. Be extra careful when inspecting any used items and above all, feel free to ask the vendor if the items you are planning to purchase have been checked for bed bugs.
- Use extra caution if bringing home used furniture or clothing from the curb side. These items are found to frequently be infested with bed bugs.
- When travelling take the following precautions:
- Inspect the room and the furniture – inspect all cracks and crevices of the mattress and box spring. Look for blood spots or live insects. Request a different room if you find any evidence of bed bugs.
- Protect your luggage – keep all belongings stored inside your luggage and wrap your luggage in plastic to help prevent bed bugs from entering your luggage. Keep your luggage off the floor preferably on a shelf.
- Protect the bed – move the bed away from the wall, tuck in all bed sheets and keep blankets from touching the floor.
- Upon returning home – keep your luggage in an isolated area of your home such as the garage. Inspect the luggage. Wash all your clothes in the hottest water possible and put them in a dryer on high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes.
What can I do if I have bed bugs in my home?
The absolute best way to deal with bed bugs is to employ Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This program combines a variety of techniques and products that introduce the least amount of risk to human health and the environment.
- Early detection is important – Consult with local health department officials or a professional Pest Control operator to confirm that you have bed bugs present in your home.
- Inspect your mattress(es) and bed frame(s), paying particular attention to folds, crevices and the underside, and any other locations where bed bugs are likely to hide.
- Use a nozzle / crevice tool attachment on the vacuum to capture bed bugs and their eggs. Vacuum all crevices on your mattress, bed frame, baseboards and any objects close to the bed. It is essential to vacuum daily and to empty the vacuum immediately.
- Wash all your linens in the hottest water possible and place them in a dryer on high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes. You may consider covering your mattress and pillows with a plastic cover.
- Remove all unnecessary clutter.
- Seal all cracks and crevices between baseboards and the wall, on wood bed frames, floors and walls – with caulking or sealant that will fill any void. Repair or remove peeling wall paper, tighten loose light switch or wall receptacle covers, and seal all openings where pipes, wires or other utilities come into your home (pay special attention to walls that are shared between apartments or semi-detached homes).
- Monitor daily by setting out glue boards or sticky tape (carpet tape is best) to catch the bed bugs. Closely examine any items that you consider bringing into your home.
- Consult with professional pest control services to discuss options that pose the lowest risk to humans and the environment.
Should you choose to treat an infestation with an insecticide, CALL A PROFESSIONAL Pest Control Service BEFORE you proceed. Only use the least toxic products available and follow all manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
Whether you choose Integrated Pest Management or insecticides, you will continue to see some living bed bugs for ten days or perhaps longer. This is normal. In the event that you continue to see numbers of living bed bugs following a two week time frame, contact a professional pest control service.