Bed Bugs

THE BED BUG

The Bed Bug is from the family Cimicidae and is a Hematophagy insect. Hematophagy is the Greek word for “eat” and “blood”. Long story short, a Bed Bug is a bloodsucker of humans and other warm-blooded living animals like bats, birds, dogs, cats, and so on. To get more specific, most insects will suck your blood with a sucking or piercing mouthpiece. A Bed Bug injects its saliva into your skin; this saliva contains an anticoagulant that causes you to bleed allowing the Bed Bug to freely eat. You will not feel the bite and a Bed Bug can start eating at one day old. The reason you will not feel the bite right away is because Bed Bug saliva contains an antithetic for numbness. The worst part is that a Bed Bug can go for more than a year without food but has a life span of less than one year if well fed. The Bed Bugs will slip into a dormant state without food and this will actually cause them to live longer. Also, most of the feeding happens just an hour or so before dawn but it can happen anytime. The Bed Bug is attracted to your heat and the carbon dioxide that you put off.

The Bed Bug is an oval, flat, small, non-flying insect that can get up to 7 MM long but normally stays at a full length of about 5 MM. The nymphs can range from clear to red and the adults, brown to reddish brown. They are sometimes misidentified as small nymph roaches or ticks. The Bed Bug gets its name from the obvious fact that it is often found in beds. Your mattress has nothing to do with why the Bed Bug is there, but rather the Bed Bug is more concerned about where you are at night. More often than not, you are sleeping in your bed at night and that is when Bed Bugs like to feed. This is the one and only factor of why the bed bug is hanging out in your bed.

THE HISTORY OF THE BED BUG

DDT, arguably, is the greatest pesticide of all time. In past wars, more soldiers were killed by disease spread by mosquitoes than by bullets. DDT was our savior. DDT also saved us from the Bed Bugs. How ironic is it that DDT has been banned because of its high toxicity to humans and wildlife. In the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and most of the 90’s we had forgotten all about Bed Bugs. Due to the ban on strong long lasting pesticides and human travel, mostly to developing countries, Bed Bugs have returned. There return will not be easily stopped as a Bed Bug can lay and average of 4 eggs per day and as much as 500 eggs in a lifetime. The eggs will hatch within 15 days. Fortunately, the eggs are about 1 MM long so we can actually see them under very close inspection.

EFFECTS ON THE BED BUGS VICTIM

As with many insects, if you get bit too often then you can eventually become allergic to the Bed Bug bite. The evidence of the bite depends on your skin type. The bite can leave a mosquito or flea looking welt, or might possibly leave no welt or redness at all. About 50% of people will not show any signs of a bite. To those who do show signs, the bite mark may not be visible for up to 9 days. If the bite mark appears, it often will badly itch. If there are two people in a bed and one is getting bit, this often means there is a Bed Bug infestation. Both people are actually getting bit, one does not show a reaction to the bite and the other person does. When a Bed Bug feeds on a person, there is sometimes a bit of blood left over. As the person rolls over in bed, this leftover blood will cause a small stain on the sheets or pillow. This is called a blood spot. Blood spots can also occur when the victim rolls over on top of the insect, crushing the Bed Bug.

The monetary effects can be another nightmare for the victim. It is recommended that you crank up the hot water heater and get ready to spend a lot of time at the local laundry mat. There is also a never-ending list of products that may need to be purchased. Some products that can help in this battle are bed covers, 20 and 40-gallon Ziploc bags, new mattresses and pillows in severe cases, heavy duty steamers, a heat gun or very hot hair dryer, a steam iron, freezers, and cloth laundry bags. It is very important that you use cloth laundry bags because if you take your cloths to the laundry mat in a trash bag or plastic hamper, when you take your clothes out of the drier they might get re-infested from a live Bed Bug waiting in the trash bag or hamper. If you have cloth bags then you can wash and dry the bags with your cloths and linens. Mattress covers can be very important too. There are mattress covers that work so well that they will prevent a Bed Bug from ever getting to the mattress, but these covers are very expensive. The covers are good in that the mattress can be treated and with this cover, you know you will not have to throw away the mattress due to it being re-infested. However, it is very difficult to insure that all of the Bed Bugs and their eggs were eliminated from the mattress.

HOW DID THE INFESTATION OCCUR?  

Unlike many other insects, cleanliness does not matter. The more knick-knacks and/or clutter you have, the more places they have to hide and the harder they will be to get rid of. But clutter and unsanitary conditions did not bring Bed Bugs into the structure. A Bed Bug most often comes from luggage that carried the Bed Bug from an airplane or hotel. Of course it is possible that they traveled in on a jacket from school or the Bed Bug jumped off a raccoon and onto the back porch swing. If there is a Bed Bug infestation, then where they came from at this point will not be important to the homeowner, but may be very important to the service technician. The source may have a large number of Bed Bugs that need to be eliminated.

WHERE ARE THE SOURCES?

If there was a recent trip then we know to look at the luggage for the source. If it was cold where the trip was taken then it would be a good idea to look at the jackets, suits, hats, and/or scarf’s that were worn on the trip. Was something purchased and brought back? Did this happen after the super bowl and did the household rent a big screen TV? The source can often be a new electronic product that was recently bought or rented. Did the household recently buy a new bed or couch? Many furniture companies will deliver and also pick up your old furniture. The old furniture could be infested and your new furniture was in that same truck. So yes, even brand new furniture could be the source. Remember that there could now be a second source at this time. Was the luggage that carried the Bed Bugs in the trunk of the car? If so, the trunk may need to be treated before it re-infests something else that is put into the trunk and taken back out. Was there recently a wheel chair brought into the home? Bed bugs will be impossible to get rid of if a person takes them with them when they leave the home while the treatment is being done. After the treatment is done then the person brings them back into the house. Wheelchairs, crutches, hats, jackets, purses, prosthetic limbs, boots, car seats, umbrellas, strollers, and any items that are not commonly washed could be a never-ending source.

WHERE ARE THEY HIDING?

This one is easy. Anywhere. Bed Bugs are doing nothing but looking for a blood meal. When in motion, I have heard stories that a Bed Bug will crawl across a ceiling and drop down onto their meal. But of course, given the name, the best place to start is the mattress. Many people believe that if a mattress is infested then the best thing to do is to throw it away. Many Bed Bug customers cannot afford this and this will make the pest control operators job much more difficult. Many insects are monitored (to help find the source) with glue boards. It would not hurt to put glue boards down to try to catch a few Bed Bugs and find the source, but some say that glue boards will not catch them at all. Who knows? It’s worth a shot to try and find the source or to see if the infestation is eliminated.

Start by removing all the sheets from the mattress and looking in all the cracks and crevices of the mattress. Anywhere there is a fold or seam in the material, you must open the seam and inspect. You are looking for Bed Bugs, Eggs, and/or blood spots. Second will be the box spring. It is best at this time to just take the thin material off the bottom of the box spring so that there can be a proper inspections and a proper treatment done. Besides, this material is stapled to the box spring and this gives the Bed Bugs many places to hide. Also inspect the bed frame and foot and headboard. Then move to the nightstands and any dressers and desk. Everything needs to be removed from the dresser drawers and the drawers need to be removed and inspected inside and out. Don’t forget that once the drawers are removed, the dresser itself needs to be inspected and/or treated while the drawers are out. Do not put harsh pesticides in drawers where clothing is going to go later! Also, all furniture needs to be put on its back so the bottom can be inspected. Everything needs to be inspected and/or treated. Don’t forget about pictures on the walls, rugs, corners of the room, chairs, purses, alarm clocks, books, phones, computers, TV’s, blinds and shades, curtains, hollow doors, under the carpet, and any light fixture or ceiling fan, and any light switch and outlet covers. When born, a Bed Bug is very tiny and can get behind an outlet cover and travel to the attic or even another room in the house. This is important to know as if you are treating a hotel or apartment, every room with a conjoining wall will also need to be treated.

HOW TO TREAT

  • WHAT A HOMEOWNER MAY NEED TO DO

Many sources will highly recommend that everything be vacuumed. This literally means that someone needs spend a full day vacuuming the front, back, and sides of every picture, book, CD and DVD case, all furniture and to spend a great deal of time on the carpet, mattress, and box spring. Then make sure the vacuum does not turn into another source. The Vacuum will then need to be treated for Bed Bugs and their eggs. To do this, give the vacuum a thorough cleaning and then treat it with extreme temperatures.

When worried that a Bed Bug might crawl up the legs of a bed or crib, the legs of the bed can be coated with Vaseline or a layer of double-sided tape to stop the Bed Bugs. This will help but don’t forget that the bed bug can still crawl up the wall and fall onto the victim from the ceiling.

If able, run all the bedding along with a wet towel through a drier cycle every night before going to bed. It will help to do this with a waterproof mattress cover to. If a mattress is treated with a pesticide, I always recommend putting a waterproof mattress cover on the bed for 2 reasons. One reason is so you are not in contact with the pesticide. The second reason is so that when a Bed Bug on the mattress is looking for you, it has further to go because it has to maneuver around the bed cover and then back up to you. This will help you to avoid a few bed bugs and also increase the chance that the Bed Bug will cross over a lethal dose of pesticide.

A Steamer is a great tool. When you put a steamer on a pillow and you see steam coming out the other side, you know any Bed Bug that the steam came in contact with will die. It is not a bad idea to spend about 20 minutes every night before bed to steam some carpet, your bed, the night stand, and your pillows and so on. Furthermore, it would also help to use your iron or a heat gun in all these areas too.

  • HEAT

Heat can be considered the best organic weapon we have against Bed Bugs. One reason is that we have so many different sources. A hair drier or heat gun, clothes drier, iron, steamers, portable heaters and even a hot summer day in Phoenix can be a weapon to use against Bed Bugs, although not recommended. If there is any good news about Bed Bugs, it is that they will die at around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. A non-insecticides treatment can be done with only heat to eradicate a Bed Bug infestation. The only problem is that there is no residual. If the heat missed, or did not kill absolutely 100% of the Bed Bugs and their eggs, then a re-infestation will occur. Some Insecticides will provide the all-important residual. Heat however, has recently gained a new weapon. There is now a truck that can pull up to a home and run air ducts through the windows and force the entire home up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Then it will hold the home at this temperature for six hours to insure the heat has penetrated into everything. This kills all the Bed Bugs in just hours and is very effective. The problem is that most people cannot afford the thousands of dollars that this cost. That being said lets go to work with some steamers and heat guns. While there is an infestation, it is not a bad idea to iron your mattress every day and use a heat gun at any opportunity over everything and anything that could be housing a Bed Bug. The Laundry mat is great because you can wash and dry all your cloths at once and the drier will kill the Bed Bugs and their eggs. The problem with doing this at home is that it can be very easy to re-infest a load of laundry once taken out of the drier.

  • COLD

There is some controversy with “cold”. I have learned from many sources that if you put an infested item in the freezer for a couple days that it will kill any Bed Bugs and their eggs. Another reliable source has said that they have seen Bed Bugs survive in 40 below temperatures. I tend to lean towards the thought that a frozen Bed Bug is a dead Bed Bug. That said, heat is the best thing but you can’t heat up everything. For example, an alarm clock or a book cannot go into the drier so we recommend putting items like this in a zip lock bag into the freezer for 4 days. Make sure the freezer is set to its coldest setting and also make sure that any electronic items are completely dry before plugging them in. The freezer is also recommended as organic pest control on dust mites and other small insects that can live in pillows, brushes, shoes, stuffed animals, hats, and anything that cannot be laundered. Be sure anything you put in the freezer is in a zip lock bag or wrapped in a trash bag.

  • INSECTICIDES All below are labeled for Bed Bugs. Read and understand all labels before using. Below the product name is just a few basic guidelines. None of the below are labeled for use on humans or animals.
    • Bedlam
  • Aerosol
  • Labeled for Bedbugs, Lice, Dust Mites, Fleas, and Ticks.
  • OK for spot treating mattress and box springs.
    • EcoEXEMPT IC
  • 1-4oz per gallon
  • Labeled for treatment on a mattress
  • One down fall, label says to wipe away excess to prevent possible staining.
  • Spraying leaves of a plant will not likely kill the plant. This product will kill a plant if over applied. With contact to roots, the plant will likely die.
    • PyGanic Dust
  • For Bed Bugs: 2oz per 50 Sq Ft
  • Label allows treatment of furniture, carpet, box spring, and mattress.
  • This product only has a residual of 7-10 days.
  • Requires hand duster.
    • Cy-Kick CS
  • Use at .05% – .1%
  • Not for use on Mattress, Pillows, Bed Liners, or Clothes.
  • OK for Dressers, Box Springs, Bed Frames, Carpet Edges and more.
  • Not recommended for use as sole protection against Bed Bugs
    • Microcare
  • Aerosol
  • This is an all around, kill all product. I would not use this one product solely for Bed Bugs but it is labeled for use on Mattresses which is rare.
  • Labeled for control of 50 + different insects.
    • Onslaught w/ Synergist Exponent
  • .5oz per gallon (0.025%). Or for heavy infestations use1oz per gallon. (0.050%)
  • Spot treat potential harborage sites.
  • Not labeled for use on mattresses.
  • Labeled for hundreds of other pest.
    • Phantom
  • 3oz per gallon to make 0.50% concentration.
  • Non repellant. This simply means that the pest does not know it is crossing an insecticide that they will die from. So, they do not know to avoid that area. Because of this, if you had to only use one product, this would be it.
  • Spot and Crack and Crevice
  • Requires agitation. (in a pump can or spray bottle, shake often)
    • Phantom Pressurized
  • Aerosol
  • Non Repellant
  • Spray 2 seconds per linear foot, a maximum of 3 seconds per Cubic Foot, and a maximum of 11 seconds per 2 SQ FT
  • Mattress can only be treated in Crack and Crevice. No spot or broad sprays on Mattresses.
    • 565 Plus XLO
  • Aerosol
  • Ok for spot and Crack and Crevice use and use on Mattresses.
    • P.I
  • Aerosol
  • Not allowed for use on Mattresses
  • Crack and Crevice
    • Alpine dust
  • Crack and Crevice
  • Not allowed for use on Mattresses
  • Not recommended as a sole product to eliminate Bed Bugs.
  • Requires hand duster.
    • Transport GHP
  • .3oz Water Soluble Bags for easy mixing. One Bag per gallon to cover 1000 SQ FT, requires agitation.
  • Not for use on mattresses.
  • Mostly Crack and Crevice.
    • Transport Mikron
  • 1.25oz per gallon (0.11%) This will cover 100 SQ FT.
  • Crack and Crevice.
  • Not allowed for use on Mattresses
    • Cynoff Insecticide dust
  • .05 to .07 ounces per SQ Yard.
  • Crack and Crevice use.
  • Not allowed for use on Mattresses
  • Not recommended as a sole product to eliminate Bed Bugs.
  • Requires hand duster.
    • CB-80 Extra
  • Aerosol
  • Ok for use on Mattresses
  • Crack and Crevice, Spot treating, and Base Board treatments allowed.
  • REMOVAL

Clutter is the worst enemy when it comes to getting rid of Bed Bugs. Preparation for a Bed Bug treatment can be lot of work on its own. All clothing and bedding must be washed at the same time that the treatment is being done. If the treatment does not work then the entire process needs to be redone. This is a good time to do some major house cleaning. If there are a lot of belongings and small knick-knacks in the home, it is highly recommended that these things be thoroughly treated and then stored somehow or somewhere so that they cannot be re-infested. Keep these items stored until everyone is confident that the infestation was taken care of. Then, when putting these belongings back in their places, be sure that another very thorough inspection is done to each item to make sure that a re-infestation does not occur. Also, any item that cannot be treated by any method whatsoever must be put in a sealed bag and stored for about 2 years.

  • PREVENT RE-INFESTATIONS

When you go to the laundry mat, keep in mind that a Bed Bug may have jumped off your sheets and cloths and into your vehicle. Try putting all of you clothes into a cloth bag and then into a sealed trash bag. At the laundry mat, throw away the trash bag and bring your clothing back home in the cloth bag that you just washed with your cloths. Also, this is a good time to clean out any purses that might be used. If a Bed Bug gets into a purse and the purse leaves the house while the treatment is being done, obviously the purse will re-infest the house when returned. If no cloth bags, take items to the laundry mat in trash bags and throw them away when you get there. Then bring the items home in new trash bags.

  • PREVENTION

There is nothing that you did to cause a Bed Bug infestation in your home. A Bed Bug more than likely jumped on your bag from an airplane, rental car, taxi, bus, or while in a hotel room. Before going on a trip it is good to treat any luggage inside and out with a residual pesticide. Repellents like Off will also help. Make sure the pesticide label allows for this and be sure to put undergarments in a plastic bag. When staying in a hotel make sure to keep your luggage and anything that would go into your luggage as far away from the bed as possible. Also, keep your luggage closed at all times. This will prevent Bed Bugs from Crawling into your luggage. A very close inspection of the box spring might reveal a Bed Bug infestation in your hotel room. If able, remove the mattress and lift the box spring up on its side. Check the bed frame and the underside of the box spring for any signs of an infestation. These signs might include a Bed Bug cast, (its old exoskeleton) small black specks, (eggs and droppings) and the Bed Bugs themselves. Bed Bugs are attracted to warmth but don’t like to come out in the light. So, when going to dinner, shut the curtains and put your laptop or portable DVD player (or any device that gets warm) onto the bed. First you will pull back the comforter and put a white towel on the bed with the laptop on top of the white towel. When you return from dinner, quickly and closely inspect the towel, sheets, and laptop. Before going to sleep, spray as much OFF as you can stand on the box spring and mattress, on and around where you will be sleeping. Spray yourself if you can. Glue board can also be helpful as they can catch bed bugs but they do not attract them. It would not hurt to put glue boards under and around the bed to see if you catch anything. Smooth bowls can also be placed under the legs of a bed frame, put baby powder in the bowls and the bed bugs will not be able to crawl out. It could be helpful to treat the hotel room and the box spring with pesticide that is labeled for such. When you get home, the approved pesticide can again be used to treat your car where you sat and where your luggage was. Also, all clothing that you are wearing and in your luggage needs to go into the dryer along with a wet towel. The luggage can then again be treated inside and out. Anything that cannot go into the dryer at this point needs to be put in the freezer or needs a very close inspection. All persons returning home must take a warm shower and thoroughly wash hair. Before the shower, if you were unable to put your cloths in the dryer, then put them in a trash bag sealed tight. Do this before sitting or laying anywhere in the home and discard of all empty trash bags outside. Don’t forget, your shoes must also be treated, this can sometimes be done with a hot hair dryer.

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