Bed bugs are parasitic insects that are notorious for keeping people up at night with the itchy bumps their bites leave behind. They are found throughout the United States and can strike at any time of year, though infestations are most common in the fall.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are brown, flat, oval-shaped insects. At about 1/4 inch long, they resemble apple seeds in appearance. They are parasites, feeding on the blood of animals they come into contact with. After a blood meal, they swell in size and turn a reddish color.
Bed bugs are often nicknamed “nature’s hitchhikers”. While they do not have wings and cannot fly, they are great climbers and are adept at getting onto floors, walls, and ceilings, as well as into bedding, clothing, and furniture. They can travel long distances in luggage or clothing if you happen to come into contact with them while traveling. If you’re not careful, your hotel or motel’s bed bug problem could quickly become your problem at home.
Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal and feed on their unaware hosts while they are sleeping. They will hide in the cracks and crevices of your mattress, box spring, or other upholstered furniture emerging at night to eat.
Are bed bugs dangerous?
Bed bugs are not considered dangerous because they do not transmit any diseases to humans. However, that does not stop them from being a massive nuisance to residents of homes they infest.
While some people don’t show any reaction to bed bug bites, others will develop small red bumps or welts across the affected areas of their skin; while they may not directly threaten your physical health the way other pests do, they can create a significant mental strain and stress. Homeowners with a bed bug infestation worry about how to control these unwanted pests, and often experience embarrassment or frustration as a result of their bed bug problem.
Although they do not spread any serious diseases, you should still contact a medical professional if you come into contact with bed bugs to ensure you do not suffer any long-term effects.
Why do I have bed bugs?
While they do not have wings and cannot fly, bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, moving from place to place on the clothing or skin of the people and pets they come into contact with. With mass transit now commonplace, this allows bed bugs to quickly spread from one home to several, or from your hotel or motel room into your bedroom, if you aren’t careful.
Bed bugs commonly make their way into homes inside luggage, bags, furniture, or clothing that has been exposed to an existing infestation. This can also occur while traveling on public transportation such as planes or buses, as well as from one child to another at school from jackets, book bags, or other clothing placed in cubbies or on the ground. However, it should be noted that while bed bugs often carry the stigma of coming from unclean homes or hotel rooms, the truth is that bed bugs can strike at any time, in any place. Apartment complexes, hotels, and even commercial facilities are just as susceptible as residential homes, so prevention is a necessity no matter where you live or how clean you keep your home.
While bed bugs are year-round pests that can strike at any time of year, many homeowners often realize they have bed bugs after vacations or get-togethers. If you’ve had a lot of family and friends visiting for the holidays, it’s quite possible one of them inadvertently brought bed bug hitchhikers with them into your home.
Where are bed bugs typically found?
While they can get into almost any area of the home or business, they are most commonly found in warm places where they can hide such as mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, carpets, clothing, luggage, laundry, bedding, or behind electrical outlets. After making their way into one of these hiding places, bed bugs will quickly scatter into any crevice or location in the home. In homes, they will spread from one room to another; inside buildings or apartment complexes, they often spread to adjacent units throughout the structure.
How do I get rid of bed bugs?
Unfortunately, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to remove. While DIY bed bug treatments are available to the public, these methods are generally ineffective at eliminating the infestation completely. Once threatened, bud bugs can lay dormant without food or water for months at a time only to return later in greater numbers.
For these reasons, it’s always best to prevent a bed bug infestation from happening rather than react to one after it makes itself apparent. If you should have a bed bug problem, your best solution is to contact a professional pest control service for help.
There are several methods a pest control service might use to fight bed bugs; popular treatment methods include heat treatments, cold treatments, traps, or steam. In addition to these direct extermination methods, many pest control providers will also employ bed bug-detecting canine units during treatments. Bed bugs’ flat bodies allow them to slip into out-of-the-way areas and possibly evade detection; dogs can help find any well-hidden bed bugs throughout your home so that the entire problem can be eliminated at once.
How can I prevent a bed bug infestation in the future?
Because they are such a persistent and difficult pest, preventing bed bugs from becoming a problem in the first place is essential if you want to avoid the tremendous nuisance associated with a bed bug infestation. Here are some steps you can take to prevent bed bugs from entering your home or business:
Do not bring used mattresses or bed frames into your home, especially if they have been left outside for any period of time.
Encase mattresses and box springs in mattress-safe covers.
Vacuum often, especially high carpets where bed bugs could easily hide.
Keep clothing off the floor and stored in vacuum-sealed bags if possible.
Wash clothing items often and dry clothing on high heat.
Inspect your children’s clothing items and backpacks for signs of bed bugs when they get home from school.
Install door sweeps on exterior doors, especially if living in a multi-unit apartment complex.
Seal any cracks or crevices around baseboards and light sockets and along walls and floors in order to give bed bugs fewer potential entry points.
Inspect used electronic products like televisions, computers, remotes, and game systems for signs of bed bugs inside before bringing them into your home.
Reduce clutter throughout the home that could create hiding spots for bed bugs.
What are common bed bug warning signs?
You should also familiarize yourself with the common warning signs of a bed bug infestation so that you can detect an infestation and seek professional treatment as early as possible. Common indicators of an infestation include the following signs:
Small dots of blood on your sheets and bedding
Brown droppings on your bedding
Small, red bites on your skin
Live or dead bed bugs
Many professionals also advise using a light-colored protective cover to encase mattresses and box springs, so any bed bugs present will be easier to see.
Can I handle my bed bug problem myself?
Unfortunately, the average home or business owner is simply unequipped to adequately fight a bed bug infestation by themselves. With how easily bed bugs can slip into even the hardest-to-reach hiding places, being able to eradicate every adult bed bug and egg on the property is a monumental task, especially if you don’t have the experience and tools necessary.
Because bed bugs are nocturnal, most people are unlikely to see them with the naked eye, and even then it’s impossible to know every place throughout your home where they could be hiding. If you want to make your bed bug problem a thing of the past and keep it from returning, you must contact a professional.
Why should I choose Pestmaster® Services for help with bed bugs?
The team at Pestmaster® Services has been keeping home and business owners across the country pest-free for over 40 years. In that time, we’ve developed strategies for bed bug control that are effective at completely eliminating bed bug infestations while remaining safe for people and pets.
Pestmaster® Services offers comprehensive bed bug inspections by trained inspectors to identify whether or not you suffer from bed bugs. Following the identification of an active bed bug infestation, we use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to rid your home of these unwanted invaders. We thoroughly inspect every room on the property using effective modern methods to ensure no bed bug goes unnoticed.
Bed bug treatment from Pestmaster® Services includes the following services:
Detection by our certified bed bug dogs (not available at all locations)
Heat and cold treatments
Education regarding bed bugs
Pestmaster® Services provides monthly bed bug inspection services for high-risk accounts like apartment buildings and condominiums that share walls. We set up regular maintenance programs by bed bug inspectors that include thorough inspections, visual verification, and treatment when bed bugs are spotted. If you’re concerned about bed bugs or are worried you might have an infestation, don’t hesitate to give us a call today for more information about our bed bug treatment plans.