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DON'T LET THE BED BUGS BITE!

Posted by Freddie on August 13, 2017

DON’T LET THE BED BUGS BITE!

I recently stayed at a hotel out of state for a few nights and had an unfortunately likely encounter. I had to wake up at 3am the night before to arrive on time to the airport, after checking in and boarding I had a 3-hour flight. I landed around 10am then arrived at the hotel an hour later, I was away for work so I had to go directly to a meeting. Usually I will inspect my room first, however my tight schedule did not allow it. I placed all my belongings inside the bathtub and proceeded to my first of several meetings that did not end until 10pm. By the time I got to my room for the night I was so exhausted I failed to inspect my bed, big mistake. I was awakened around 12am by the urge to use the bathroom, upon returning to the bed I saw a bug crawl from my pillow to the seam in the mattress. I immediately ran over and squashed it and found it to be my biggest nightmare, a fully engorged adult female bed bug.

Lately I have noticed a rise in bed bug activity almost to the extent of an epidemic in the U.S. as well as a great increase of bed bugs in Connecticut. Although the exact reason eludes us at the moment I believe we can attribute much of it to a lack of widespread public knowledge and awareness. It is my hope to shed some light on the topic and give some tips for identifying and preventing a bed bug infestation.

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood. Cimex lectularius is the best known as it prefers to feed on human blood. The name comes from their preferred habitat: inside warm houses near or inside beds, couches, mattresses, box springs, headboards, bedding, or other sleep areas. They hide in tight spaces such as under platform frame slats, between boards on a frame, under meshing of box springs and couches along the frame, around screw heads attached to frame, and any other tight areas they can fit in. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but not exclusively.

One common misconception is that only “dirty people” end up with a bed bug infestation. This is far from true. I had a customer with a bed bug infestation whose house was spotless of dirt, dust, grime, and clutter. Bed bugs don’t discriminate, they will BUG anyone they can. Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and blood of the host which they find via carbon dioxide breathed out during sleep. Clutter does however offers more hiding spots, so neatness will help but not stop a bed bug infestation.

Bed Bug Reproduction:

The average female bed bug will lay approx. one to seven eggs a day after a blood meal. With access to regular meals the female will lay anywhere from 200 to 250 eggs during her lifetime. Due to the hazards involved in the mating process, a female bed bug is more likely to travel away from the males and to an area where she can guarantee a meal. While traveling to protect themselves from continued mating a pregnant female can “hitchhike” and start an infestation of more than 5,000 bed bugs within a six-month period. Eggs take approximately six to seventeen days to hatch a nymph which is not able to reproduce until it has fully matured. Depending on the temperature an egg can hatch and become a mature bed bug in as little as three weeks in warmer temperatures. Nymphs begin feeding as soon as they hatch. Bed bugs are survivors, they can go months to a year without a meal.

Bed Bug Health Concerns

Few adverse health effects may result from a bed bug bite such as skin rashes, allergic reactions, and psychological effects. There is no evidence of bed bugs transmitting any pathogens to a human host.

Bed Bugs A Brief History

Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. In the 1940s, they were mostly eradicated with DDT and Malathion. Bed bugs have increased in prevalence since the mid 1990’s, most likely due to pesticide resistance, governmental bans on certain effective yet ecologically damaging pesticides, and an increase in international travel. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) there has been a 70% increase in bed bug reports from 2000 to 2005. A lack of public awareness, has enabled this insect to move very efficiently from one dwelling to another and has helped with their rapid increase throughout the country. Bed bugs are great at hitch hiking they travel from an infested area to a new site via furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing, once introduced into a new environment they can spread from infested locations to un-infested areas quickly. To spread an infestation all someone has to do is to spend a night in a bed bug infested environment and there is a good chance that they will take bed bugs with them to their next destination.

Tips For Prevention
  • Reduce clutter. By doing so you provide fewer areas for bed bugs to hide
  • While out, keep your belongings separate from other people’s belongings
  • At a hotel, prior to bringing in your belongings check the luggage rack, bed, box spring, and bed frame for signs of an infestation
  • After travel, empty your suitcase directly into the wash and dry on high heat for an hour
  • Check and store luggage away from your bed in a basement or garage
  • Check secondhand furniture before you accept them into your home
  • Use a white or light colored non-plastic encasement on your mattress and box spring, this will make it easy to spot any signs of an infestation
  • Vacuum frequently to remove any possible hitchhikers
  • Most important is DO NOT try to deal with an infestation with DIY methods. Get a professional immediately to come inspect, detect, evaluate, and put a plan in place to eliminate the infestation
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CT Pest Control Association American Mosquito Control Association National Pest Management Association American Mosquito Control Association American Mosquito Control Association