Long considered eradicated in most metropolitan areas, bed bugs are making a comeback. they are being found in cities across the country. Everywhere from homeless shelters to five-star hotels. Contrary to popular belief, the presence of bed bugs does not indicate a lack of cleanliness.
Identifying Bed Bugs
Bed bugs have an oval body and a short, broad head. The body as a whole is broad and flat. Unfed adults are around 6 to 10 mm long, brown and wingless. After feeding, they swell slightly in size and darken to a blood-red colour. the nymphs are shaped like the adults, but are yellow-white in colour.
Itchy welts on skin, blood spots on sheets and/or black or brown spots on mattresses, bed frames or walls often indicate that there is a bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs are also known by several names: wall louse, house bug, mahogany flat, red coat, crimson ramblers as well as others.
The bed bug eggs are white, about 1 mm long and almost impossible to see on most surfaces. The female bed bug lays about 200 eggs in her lifetime, at a rate of about 3 or 4 per day. The eggs have a sticky coating and are deposited in cracks and crevices, behind woodwork and similar hidden locations. They hatch in 6 to 17 days.
Newly hatched nymphs feed as soon as food is available. A bed bug goes through five moults before it reaches full maturity.
Adults usually live for around 10 months, but can live for a year or more. In a home, where the environment is conductive to their reproduction (their ideal breeding temperature is between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius), bed bugs can breed year round. Bed bugs are wingless and cannot fly or jump, but are able to enter into extremely small locations in the home because of their flattened bodies.
Bed bugs can live for several weeks to several months without feeding, depending on the temperature. They can typically go without feeding for 80 to 140 days; older bed bugs can go without feeding longer than younger ones. Adults have been known to survive for as long as 550 days (over a year and a half!) without feeding.
What do bed bug bites look like?
When bed bugs bite people, they inject their saliva into the biting area, causing the skin to become irritated and inflamed. Individual responses to bed bug bites will vary. The skin lesion from bed bug bites may go unnoticed, or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other skin conditions.
Four types of skin rashes have been described:
1. The most common rash is made up of localized red and itchy flat lesions. The classic bed bug bites could be presented in a linear fashion in a group of three, which is called "breakfast, lunch and dinner".
2. Small raised red swelling lesions are also common.
3. In rare cases, people may develop large raised, often itchy, red welts.
4. People with high sensitivity to bed bug saliva may develop a lump filled with blood or fluid.
Bed bug bites most commonly occur on exposed areas of the body, including the face, neck, hands, arms, lower legs, or all over the body.
How can you treat bed bug bites?
Most bed bug bites go away by themselves and don't need treatment. Keep the skin clean and try not to scratch. If the bites are very itchy, your doctor may prescribe cream or antihistamines to relieve the itchiness. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for any secondary skin infection from excessive scratching.
What do bed bugs feed on?
Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood, but will also bite mammals and birds. Bed bugs bite at night, and will bite all over a human body, especially around the face, neck, upper torso, arms and hands. Both male and female bed bugs bite.
Can I get sick from bed bugs?
There are no known cases of infectious disease transmitted by bed bug bites. Most people are not aware that they have been bitten, however some people are more sensitive to the bite and may have a localized reaction. Scratching the bitten areas can lead to infection.
Why Bed Bugs are a Problem
Bed bugs are nuisances and are generally off-putting to people, but they do not pose any major health risks. As with mosquitoes, people can be allergic to their bites, which can cause swelling, itchy welts and in some cases infections. However, they are not known to carry any blood-borne diseases.
Bed bugs are mainly active at night. As they typically feed when people are sound asleep, their bites may not be detected immediately.
One species of bed bugs feed primarily on humans, but there are other species that feed on other mammals and on birds.
How do bed bugs get into my home?
Bed bugs are often carried into a home on objects such as furniture, clothing and luggage. If you think you have a bed bug problem, check for live bed bugs or shells in the following areas:
- Seams, creases, tufts and folds of mattresses and box springs
- Cracks in the bed frame and head board
- Under chairs, couches, beds and dust covers
- Between the cushions of couches and chairs
- Under area rugs and the edges of carpets
- Between the folds of curtains
- In drawers
- Behind baseboards and around window and door casings
- Behind electrical plates and under loose wallpaper, paintings and posters
- In cracks in plaster
- In telephones, radios and clocks
Bed bugs can also travel from apartment to apartment along pipes, electrical wiring and other openings. If the infestation is heavy, a sweet smell may be noticed in the room.
What You Can Do Around Your Home
The best method to deal with bed bugs is to employ an integrated approach that combines a variety of techniques and the use of a chemical insecticide, such as Bug-Tek, that poses the least risk to human health and the environment.
Bed bugs are small and can hide in a myriad of places - under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in electrical outlets, inside box springs, in mattress pads, in night tables, etc... You must be very thorough in order to properly address bed bug infestations. As bed bugs can travel up to 30 meters and can be transported in clothing, luggage or other household items, you may have to treat nearby rooms to prevent the infestation from continuing.
Most of the time, bed bug infestations will require more than one treatment as well as physical means of control.
- Infested areas should be vacuumed carefully with a brush attachment, and the bag should be disposed of immediately afterwards.
- When inspecting your bed, examine the seams, tufts and crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard carefully. Bed bugs prefer wood and fabric to metal or plastic. Mattresses and box springs should be steam-cleaned. Mattresses can be wrapped in zippered bed encasements, available from allergy supply companies, or wrapped and sealed in plastic film. Mattress pads and sheets should be washed in hot water and dried on the highest setting. You may have to remove the cloth underside of the box spring to determine if there are bed bugs inside.
- Bed bugs cannot easily climb metal or polished surfaces, and they cannot fly or jump, so treating the legs of beds will help keep them away. Coat the legs with double-sided carpet tape or petroleum jelly. You can also place the legs of the bed inside glass jars or metal cans.
- Treating a bed effectively can be quite challenging. Holes or worn spots in the fabric may allow bed bugs to lay eggs in areas not easily reached.
- Carefully examine all night tables, baseboards, dressers, headboards (especially padded ones), electrical outlets, any items stored near or under the bed, any nearby carpeting or rugs, picture frames, switch plates, inside clocks, phones and televisions and smoke detectors - in short, anything and everything that is in the room where the infestation as been noted. Upholstered chairs and sofas can also harbour bed bugs and should be treated with careful vacuuming and laundering of all possible parts (cushions, slipcovers, skirts, etc..)
- Treat the infestation with Bug-Tek insecticide. Bug-Tek is totally safe and non-toxic to humans and warm-blooded pets, such as dogs and cats, but is very effective in killing bed bugs.
Bed Bug Information for Landlords and Property Managers
Multi-unit dwellings, including hotels, apartments, hostels, shelters, student residences and rooming houses, are high-risk locations for bed bug infestations. The best method to deal with bed bugs is to employ an integrated approach that combines a variety of techniques and the use of a chemical insecticide, such as Bug-Tek that poses the least risk to human health and the environment.
Collaboration between tenants and landlords is necessary to eliminate bed bug infestations. The following steps are recommended for landlords and property managers dealing with bed bug infestations.
1. Prevention: Seal cracks and crevices between baseboards, on wood bed frames, floors and walls with caulking. Repair or remove peeling wallpaper, tighten loose light switch covers, and seal any openings where pipes, wires or other utilities come into the home. It is also important to pay special attention to walls that are shared between apartments.
2. Respond to tenant's complaints about bed bugs and conduct proper inspections. Consult with local Public Health authorities to confirm bed bug infestations.
3. Review the bed bug management process with tenant(s) in bed bug affected unit(s) to ensure understanding and adherence to the steps taken.
4. Infested areas should be vacuumed carefully with a brush attachment, and the bag should be disposed of immediately afterwards.
5. Treat the infestation with Bug-Tek or provide sufficient insecticide for the tenant to do the treatment himself. Bug-Tek is totally safe and non-toxic to humans and warm-blooded pets, such as cats and dogs, but is very effective in killing bed bugs.
6. Ensure that an inspection by the property manager/landlord is carried out following treatment to assess the treatment's effectiveness and determine if more spray is needed. Often more than one treatment is required.
7. Furniture put out from the infested units should be removed as soon as possible and dismantled so that it is not picked up by someone else.
Controlling Breeding Sites
Any clutter must be reduced or removed entirely. Bed bugs hide in miniscule areas, and any belongings left lying around provide a perfect opportunity for them to hide and continue to breed. Affected bedding and clothing should be bagged and laundered on the high setting, or discarded, as these products cannot be treated by the application of insecticides.
Smaller items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be treated through heating (temperatures great than 50 degrees Celsius) or freezing. These temperatures must be maintained for a prolonged period of time (e.g., 2 days of cold exposure at 0 degrees Celsius) to ensure that the bed bugs are killed.
Trying to raise or lower the temperature in your entire house or apartment will not work to kill the bed bugs.
Vacuuming can be helpful in removing bugs and eggs from carpet, mattresses, walls and other surfaces. It is very important to pay close attention to seams, tufts and edges of mattresses and box springs, and the other edge of wall-to-wall carpeting. Steam cleaning carpeting can also be effective in killing bugs and eggs not picked up by regular vacuuming.
While bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, they can and will feed on other mammals and birds. Some bed bug species are parasites of bats or birds and may bite people if the wild hosts are not available. If bat bugs or bird bugs are involved, roosting and nesting sites should also be treated, and the animals excluded from the building.
In addition, be cautious about taking in second-hand furniture, bedding, mattresses or beds. At the very minimum, these items should be carefully inspected before being brought into the home in order to protect you and your family.
Chemical Control Methods
Bug-Tek is a great solution for bed bug infestations. It effectively kills bed bugs on contact, yet is totally safe for indoor use.
- Safe for humans
- Safe for warm-blooded pets (dogs, cats, etc...)
- Residually effective for up to 6 weeks
- May be applied by the property owner
- Ready to use, no mixing or dilution required
- Use the convenient trigger sprayer that comes with the bottle, or decant Bug-Tek into a commercial sprayer if treating larger areas.
- Liberally spray all areas where bugs may reside or travel. See detailed explanations of areas as described above.
- Allow to dry. It is safe to touch, walk and sleep on treated areas.
- Repeat treatment in two weeks.
- Repeat treatment in another two weeks. Since bed bugs can remain in one place without feeding for very long periods, they may not be affected by the initial spraying if they never come into contact with the insecticide.
- After the third treatment, the retreatment cycle may be extended to four weeks.
Note that bed bug infestations can be challenging to treat, and repeat applications are often required. Between applications of Bug-Tek, use physical pest management techniques to minimize ongoing or future infestations.