Bed Bugs 101
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects. The most common type is Cimex lectularius. The term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Please take a look at our Prep Sheet for information before RPC arives at your location.
A number of health effects may occur due to bed bugs, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. Diagnosis involves both finding bed bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Treatment is otherwise symptomatic.
In the developed world, bed bugs were largely eradicated as pests in the early 1940s, but have increased in prevalence since about 1995. Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase, bed bug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well. The exact causes of this resurgence remain unclear; it is variously ascribed to greater foreign travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings among homes, a greater focus on control of other pests resulting in neglect of bed bug countermeasures, and increasing resistance to pesticides. Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years.
The name "bed bug" is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bed bugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. When bed bugs feed, they inject their saliva into your skin. The saliva contains anticoagulants and anesthetics. Bed bugs usually only take a few minutes to feed on you and bed bugs do not need to feed again for long periods, they can survive.
Roughneck Pest Control IPM methods for bed bugs include:
- Inspecting infested areas, plus surrounding living spaces
- Checking for bed bugs on luggage and clothes when returning home from a trip
- Looking for bed bugs or signs of infestation on secondhand items before bringing the items home
- Correctly identifying the pest
- Keeping records — including dates when and locations where pests are found
- Cleaning all items within a bed bug infested living area
- Reducing clutter where bed bugs can hide
- Eliminating bed bug habitats
- Physically removing bed bugs through cleaning
- Using pesticides carefully according to the label directions
- Following up inspections and possible treatments
- Raising awareness through education on prevention of bed bugs
- Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures to kill bed bugs.
- Heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 °F (45 °C) for 1 hour. The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.
- Cold treatments (below 0 °F (-19 °C) for at least 4 days) can eliminate some infestations. Again, the cooler the temperature, the less time needed to kill bed bugs.
- Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations.
Pesticides are one component of a comprehensive strategy for controlling bed bugs. Currently, there are over 300 products registered by EPA for use against bed bugs — the vast majority of which can be used by consumers. Several classes of chemicals are utilized in these products — each class share a similar mode of action, or way in which the chemical affects the biological functions of a bed bug.
Preventing Bed Bug Infestations
Bed bugs are very successful hitchhikers, moving from an infested site to furniture, bedding, baggage, boxes, and clothing. Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, bed bugs can be quite resilient; they are capable of surviving over a year without feeding.
A few simple precautions can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home:
- Check secondhand furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation, as described above before bringing them home.
- Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs which eliminates many hiding spots. The light color of the encasement makes bed bugs easier to see. Be sure to purchase a high quality encasement that will resist tearing and check the encasements regularly for holes.
- Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
- In hotel rooms, use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
- Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping.
- Upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.
Hiring Pest Management Professionals
Getting a pest management professional (PMP) involved as soon as possible rather than taking time to try to treat the problem yourself is very effective at preventing further infestations. Each pest management company should have instructions for residents on how to prepare the unit for a treatment which will include laundering and cleaning.
The PMP will inspect your residence, take apart furniture if necessary and use vacuums, heat and pesticides to treat the infestation.
Call Roughneck Pest Control at (877) 280-6027 today for a free estimate on your pest inspection and control needs.