Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are becoming more and more common these days. We are finding them in apartments, houses, buses, cruise ships, airplanes, movie theaters, and hospitals and so on. Bed bugs like be where people are because people are their food supply.
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown, flat insects that feed on the blood of animals. While the bed bug prefers human blood, it will also feed on other warm-blooded animals, such as dogs, cats, birds and rodents. Fully grown bed bugs will reach about 3/16” long. Sometimes they are confused with ticks, roaches, carpet beetles or other household insects. The immature bed bugs (nymphs) resemble the adults, but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs are a True Bug (hemiptera) so they do not undergo metamorphosis between larval phase and adult.
There are many things that we know about bed bugs and still plenty more that is not known. University entomologists have been researching them since their re-emergence in the United States over a decade ago. What we know are that bed bugs are cryptic in a sense that they will hide until the host is sleeping. Bed bugs will hide in places around the host’s bed such as night stands, picture frames, base boards and of course the mattress. Bed bugs have 5 immature stages of life called “instars.” The first instar is the newly emerged “nymph” prior to a blood-feed. After each blood-feed, the bed bug will molt. The bed bug will molt 5 times before reaching maturity. One female after becoming fertilized can lay up to 500 eggs in up to 9 months. Bed bugs evolve quickly to adapt to many situations. Studies have shown that many of the pesticides we used to control them 10 years ago are not as effective today.
Bed bugs are successful hitchhikers. They will climb into a backpack or into luggage to infest a new or more desirable location. Research has shown that bed bugs will choose a backpack that has been worn by a human within eight hours as opposed to one that has not been worn in that time.
Their medical importance is attributed to itching and inflammation from their bites. Scratching the affected area can cause infection. Other medically significant concerns with bed bugs are that when they molt, they leave behind their shed skins and fecal matter which may exacerbate asthma or other respiratory problems. Bed bugs have not been proven to vector diseases. Part of what we don’t know is why.
Bed bug bites present in different ways. Some show a minor inflammation around the bite area, some present with a major inflammation. Some don’t react at all. The bite patterns can be several bites in a linear or a circular pattern. Bites can be on the arms, neck, torso, hips, legs, hands or feet. Sometimes, bites won’t present from several hours to days after being bitten (which makes it difficult to determine where the bite took place.)
There are a lot of products available these days that boast bed bug eradication. Many “over-the-counter” treatments promise control. From a spray that can be purchased at the local hardware store to diatomaceous earth. What is very important to know is that when applying pesticide inside your home is, is the pesticide effective and is it being applied correctly and in the most effective manner? Most importantly, is it safe for my family?
We have very effective control strategies available for bed bugs. If you feel that you are being invaded by bed bugs, let us know. We can inspect your home or business and come up with a strategy that best suits your situation with the latest and most effective techniques available.