Bed Bugs Basic Information
See also: How to get rid of bed bugs
Bedbugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, which declined in incidence through the mid 20th century. Recently however, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic resurgence and worldwide there are reports of increasing numbers of infestations. Bed bugs are one of the great travelers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. As such, they have a worldwide distribution.
Some Basic Facts:
- Bed bugs are persistent. Eradicating, exterminating or just killing an entire infestation requires persistence.
- Bed bugs can hide in extremely small cracks and crevices making it difficult to locate breeding sites.
- Bedbugs are rarely seen in daylight. They emerge from their hiding spots at night.
- Bed bugs can live a year or longer without food (blood) and thus stay in their hiding places.
- Bed bugs can travel long distances and survive in suitcases, clothing, vehicles, aircraft, cruise ships and other modes of transportation.
- Bed bug females lay about 300 eggs.
- Bed bugs hatch from eggs in 10 days.
Bed Bug Bites
- Bed bugs feed by piercing skin with an elongated beak.
- Saliva is injected, containing an anesthetic to reduce pain, and an anticoagulant to keep blood flowing.
- The reaction to bed bug bites varies among individuals, from no reaction to sever skin inflammation and irritation
Symptoms of a Bed Bug Infestation
Most bug bug problems are not detected until someone has been bitten. The bite is painless. The salivary fluid injected by bed bugs typically causes the skin to become irritated and inflamed, although individuals can differ in their sensitivity. A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite. This is accompanied by severe itching that lasts for several hours to days.
A bed bug infestation can be recognized by blood stains from crushed bugs or by rusty (sometimes dark) spots of excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls. Fecal spots, eggshells, and shed skins may be found in the vicinity of their hiding places. An offensive, sweet, musty odor from their scent glands may be detected when bed bug infestations are severe.
Bed bugs can live in almost any crevice or protected location. They will usually stay close to their food source (blood) but can rapidly spread through a multiple residence building, hotel or other accommodations. The most common place to find them is the bed. Bed bugs often hide within seams, tufts, and crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard.
Finding Bed Bugs
Some Bed bug symptoms are not obvious to the untrained eye. A thorough inspection requires dismantling the bed and standing the components on edge. Things to look for are the bugs themselves, and the light-brown, molted skins of the nymphs. Dark spots of dried bed bug excrement are often present along mattress seams or wherever the bugs have resided. Oftentimes the gauze fabric underlying the box spring must be removed to gain access for inspection and possible treatment. Successful treatment of mattresses and box springs is difficult, however, and infested components may need to be discarded. Cracks and crevices of bed frames should be examined, especially if the frame is wood. (Bed bugs have an affinity for wood and fabric more so than metal or plastic). Headboards secured to walls should also be removed and inspected. In hotels and motels, the area behind the headboard is often the first place that the bugs become established. Bed bugs also hide among items stored under beds.
Nightstands and dressers should be emptied and examined inside and out, then tipped over to inspect the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners, and recesses.
Upholstered chairs and sofas should be checked, especially seams, tufts, skirts, and crevices beneath cushions. Sofas can be major bed bug hotspots when used for sleeping.
Other common places to find bed bugs include: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting (especially behind beds and furniture); cracks in wood molding; ceiling-wall junctures; behind wall-mounts, picture frames, switch plates and outlets; under loose wallpaper; amongst clothing stored in closets; and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.
The challenge is to find and treat all places where bugs and eggs may be present. Bed bugs tend to congregate in certain areas, but it is common to find an individual or some eggs scattered here and there. Persistence and a bright flashlight are requisites for success. Professional Inspectors sometimes also inject a pyrethrum-based, “flushing agent” into crevices to help reveal where bugs may be hiding. A thorough treatment of a home, hotel, or apartment may take several hours or days.