What do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs look similar to ticks, they are small wingless insects that feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals. Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, oval insects. They grow to 4 to 5 mm (1/18" to 3/16") in length or the size of an apple seed. Swollen and reddish after a blood meal.
Bed bug eggs are tiny, whitish, and hard to see without magnification, as individual eggs are about the size of a dust spec. When first laid, the eggs are sticky, causing them to adhere to substrates. Newly hatched bed bug nymphs are translucent and lighter in color and continue to become browner and molt as they reach maturity. The nymphs are no bigger than a pinhead.
Where Can I Find Bed Bugs?
Bed Bugs can be found almost anywhere in any room. Common places are 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 your luggage. Other common places to find bedbugs include: under loose wallpaper; amongst clothing stored in closets and dressers, inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detector. Bedbugs are capable of traveling as far as 100 feet to find food, but usually remain close to the host in bedrooms.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs feed generally at night, with a peak attack period about an hour before dawn. Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, the bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents. Although bedbugs can live for up to 18 month without feeding, they typically seek blood every 5 to 10 days.
Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks or more causes people to become sensitized to the saliva of these bugs; additional bites may then result in mild to intense allergic responses. The skin lesion produced by the bite of a bed bug resembles those caused by many other kinds of blood feeding insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas. For first time victims, lesions sometimes can be confused with poison ivy and spider bites.
Bed Bug Life Cycle
Female bed bugs can lay up to five eggs in a day and 500 during a lifetime. The eggs are visible to the naked eye measuring 1 mm in length (approx. 2 grains of salt) and are a milky-white tone in color. The eggs can often be found in dark, protected places such as walls and floor cracks, cracks in furniture, behind baseboards, under loose wallpaper and behind pictures. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks. The hatchlings begin feeding immediately. They pass through five molting stages before they reach maturity. They must feed once during each of these stages. At room temperature, it takes about 5 weeks for a bed bug to pass from hatching, through the stages, to maturity. They become reproductive active only at maturity.
How Did I Get Bed Bugs?
There are several ways how one’s dwelling may become infested with bedbugs. The bedbugs are efficient hitchhikers and are usually unknowingly transported in on luggage, clothing, or other belongings that are carried by individuals as they travel. Current outbreaks have been traced to increased domestic and international tourism. This is a particular problem for hotels, motels, and apartments, where turnover of occupants is constant. Infestations can also occur inadvertently by bringing in infested furniture, mattresses, or used clothing to one’s household. A third way people get bed bugs is by moving into a vacant apartment. The apartment may appear to be “clean”, but because bed bugs can survive for many months without feeding, bed bugs may already be present in the unit. Lastly, bed bugs may travel between units in multi-unit buildings after originally being brought into the building by one of the aforementioned routes. The bugs can wander between adjoining apartments through voids in walls and holes though which wires and pipes pass.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Unfortunately bedbugs are extremely difficult to eradicate without the help of an experienced pest control professional.
A bed bug infestation has nothing to do with cleanliness – you can pick them up in even 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.
In the House:
When at home, follow these handy tips to help keep bed bugs at bay.
Remove all clutter from your home, which makes finding bed bugs easier.
Wash and dry your bed linens often using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.
Closely inspect any second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring it into your residence.
Inspect your home regulary - after a move-in, a trip, a service worker comes in or guests stay overnight.
Protect yourself While Traveling
When traveling remember the following action steps to help avoid taking bed bugs home with you.
Purchase JT Eaton's "Kills Bedbugs" Pull off the sheets and treat the sides of the mattress and box spring along with all dresser drawers and closets.
Inspect surfaces for signs of an infestation, such as tiny rust-colored spots on bed sheets, mattress tags and seams, and bed skirts.
Lift and look for all bed bug hiding spots, including underneath the mattress, bed frame, headboard,
and furniture. Typically, they come out at night to feed, but during the day, they are most likely found within a 5-foot radius of the bed.
Elevate your luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, since bed bugs can often hide behind head boards, artwork, picture frames and electrical outlet panels.
Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and when you return home. Always keep luggage off the bed and store it in a closet or other area, far away from your bedroom.
Place all your clothing from your luggage immediately in the dryer for at least 20 minutes at the highest setting upon returning home from travel.